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'We are determined': Netanyahu issues statement on weapons as Palestinians flee Rafah

President Joe Biden said he wouldn't approve weapons to supply help for an all-out assault on one of the last places for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to escape danger.
Palestinians leave Rafah to try and escape to central Gaza amid Israel's conflict with Hamas.
Posted at 12:24 PM, May 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-05-09 14:24:14-04

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a fiery statement on Thursday appearing to indirectly respond to U.S. President Joe Biden's recent announcement that his administration wouldn't supply the Israeli Defense Forces with offensive weapons for an all-out assault on the city of Rafah — one of the last places Palestinians have fled during the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the border with the Gaza Strip.

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"Today we are much stronger. We are determined and we are united in order to defeat our enemies and those who want to destroy us," Netanyahu said in the statement. "We did not have weapons. There was an arms embargo on Israel, but with great strength of spirit, heroism and unity among us — we were victorious."

"If we need to stand alone, we will stand alone," the prime minister's statement continued. "If necessary, we will fight with our fingernails. But we have much more than fingernails, and with that same strength of spirit, with G-d's help, together we will win."

Rafah is considered by Israeli intelligence to be the last major Hamas stronghold in Gaza, The Associated Press reported.

President Biden said in an interview with CNN this week that while his administration is committed to defending Israel, "we’re not going to supply the weapons and artillery shells used" if the IDF goes into Rafah, though the administration indicated it would supply defensive weapons such as Iron Dome rocket interceptors.

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In April, President Biden told Prime Minister Netanyahu that future U.S. support would hinge on improving protections for civilians and aid workers. The White House said President Biden "made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers."

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said that since the May 6 intensification of Israel's military operation, about 80,000 people have fled Rafah in "yet another forced displacement in the Gaza Strip."