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Biden Vows to Withhold Some Bombs If Israel Invades Rafah, Days Into Siege

Biden falsely claimed Israeli forces “haven’t gone in Rafah yet” — despite dozens of Palestinians there already killed.

or the first time in Israel’s genocide that has killed 35,000 Palestinians so far, President Joe Biden has threatened to withhold some military aid from being sent to Israel if Israeli officials undertake a “major” invasion of Rafah — even as Israeli forces have already killed dozens in the city.

In a CNN interview on Wednesday, Biden said that he would suspend the sending of certain 2,000 pound bombs — which the U.S. has been sending to Israel and paused a shipment of last week — to Israel if it invaded Rafah.

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centers,” said Biden, appearing to acknowledge that Israel has been killing civilians en masse with U.S. bombs, which is a war crime.

This marks the only condition that Biden has put on sending weapons to Israel in seven months of genocide, despite the outcry from Americans in his base who have demanded an end to Israel’s relentless civilian assault. Just since October, the U.S. has sent tens of thousands of bombs and weapons to Israel, on top of the tens of billions of dollars the U.S. has sent over the years.

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah — they haven’t gone in Rafah yet — if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities — that deal with that problem,” Biden said, seemingly asserting that the existence of cities in Gaza is a “problem.”

The president’s claim that Israel has not yet invaded Rafah is blatantly untrue and can be easily disproved even with publicly available information, much less with the cache of classified information that Biden has access to.

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If Biden holds true to his promise to withhold weapons, it could prevent a more intense military campaign and encourage some restraint from the IDF, which has so far shown none. But it may be too little, too late for the threat: The bombs that Biden pledged to withhold wouldn’t be used in a ground invasion anyway, since 2,000 pound bombs are dropped via aircraft, and Israeli officials have said that the U.S. has already provided enough weapons to conduct its planned Rafah assault even if the flow of weapons were to stop.

So far in the invasion that Biden claims hasn’t happened yet, Israeli forces have openly taken the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing, which has been the main entry route for humanitarian aid. Beyond the crossing, satellite imagery from recent days has shown that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are on the ground in Gaza, with buildings having been bulldozed and Israeli soldiers having penetrated over a mile into Rafah so far.

The deputy director of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), Scott Andersen, said in an interview with Politico on Tuesday that there are at least two brigades on the ground in Rafah, including one of the brigades that was responsible for the World Central Kitchen aid worker killing last month. Andersen said that Israeli forces had killed at least 24 people in the 24 hours prior to the interview, including seven children.

Other reports similarly call into question what Biden classifies as a “major” assault of Rafah, if he believes it hasn’t started already. Deaths are mounting: The only hospital in Rafah that hasn’t yet been forced to close by Israel’s evacuation order reported on Wednesday that the facility had received 129 injured people and 35 dead bodies in 24 hours, including the corpse of a 4-month-old baby.

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Meanwhile, Israel is continuing to ethnically cleanse and displace Palestinians, with 80,000 people having fled Rafah since Monday, UN aid workers have reported.

Even if Israel continued on its current path in Rafah, without further escalation, the results would be disastrous. Israel is currently blocking all humanitarian aid from entering Gaza, aid groups have said, threatening the shutdown of all hospitals in the region within the next 1 to 2 days. Without fuel, aid groups cannot perform their duties, as food, water and other vital supplies are running extremely low.

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