US might fail to stop Israel from attacking Rafah; 'Biden's influence over Netanyahu limited'
Published: May 12, 2024 11:02 PM
Israeli soldiers take part in a drill before entering Gazan city of Rafah near the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel, on May 7, 2024. (Photo by Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua)

Israeli soldiers take part in a drill before entering Gazan city of Rafah near the Kerem Shalom crossing in Israel, on May 7, 2024. (Photo by Gil Cohen Magen/Xinhua)

Although the US is recently increasing criticism over Israel and warns that Washington will stop weapon supply if the Israeli military forces launch full attack against Rafah, Israeli Prime Minister has defied the warning from US President Joe Biden by reaffirming his determination to maintain the war in Gaza.

Chinese analysts said on Sunday that it seems like the US is losing influence over its ally Israel and the Biden administration has lost many chances to stop the bloodshed, and a large number of civilian casualties would be unavoidable if Israel insists on its plan, and the international community would condemn not only Israel but also the US. 

The Biden administration said Friday that Israel's use of US-provided weapons in Gaza likely violated international humanitarian law but that "wartime conditions prevented US officials from determining that for certain in specific airstrikes," the AP reported on Saturday.

The finding of "reasonable" evidence to conclude that the US ally had breached international law protecting civilians in the way it conducted its war against Hamas was the strongest statement that the Biden administration has yet made on the matter. It was released in a summary of a report being delivered to the US Congress on Friday.

But the caveat that the administration wasn't able to link specific US weapons to individual attacks by Israeli forces in Gaza could give the administration leeway in any future decision on whether to restrict provisions of offensive weapons to Israel.

The first-of-its-kind assessment, which was compelled by Biden's fellow Democrats in Congress, comes after seven months of airstrikes, ground fighting and aid restrictions that have claimed the lives of nearly 35,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, the AP reported.

Biden said on Thursday while the US would continue to provide defensive weapons to Israel, including for its Iron Dome air defense system, other shipments would end should a major ground invasion of Rafah begin, CNN reported.

However, Netanyahu said on Thursday in a thinly veiled rebuff to Biden's warning that arms supplies could be withheld over a planned operation in Gaza, Reuters reported on Friday. 

Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Sunday that the most recent situation and remarks made by the leaders of the US and Israel showed that Washington can make very limited impact on the Netanyahu administration.

"Israel has gained enough weapons and ammos since the very beginning of the conflict from not only the US but also other Western countries, so even if the US stop the military supports immediately by now, Israel is still able to continue the war and the killing with the weapons that it has already got," Liu said.  

Since the Palestinian-Israeli conflict began in October 2023, Israel has conducted ground operations across most of Gaza, steadily pushing Palestinians south. The United Nations estimates up to 1.7 million people have been displaced by the conflict. A majority of them are in Rafah, which before the war had a population of around 275,000, the Washington Post reported.

Experts said Netanyahu won't stop at this point because as long as Hamas continues to exist in Rafah, the Israeli military operation will be considered as failure, and the opposition parties within Israel will use this to attack Netanyahu and make him and his followers accountable for the failure and the failed handling since October 7, 2023.

"Compare to this kind of serious consequence, the international pressure about civilian casualties is probably nothing and affordable to the leadership of Israel, so unfortunately, the conflict will continue and the bloodshed will not be stopped immediately. This shows that the US has failed to effectively stop the bloodshed, and its influence over Israel is also shrinking. Washington has lost the best window to stop this mess," said a Beijing-based expert on international relations who asked for anonymity.