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Israel announces additional troop deployment in Rafah amid warning from Biden administration

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May 16, 2024

Israel plans to deploy additional troops to assist with operations against Hamas in Rafah, Israeli Foreign Minister Yoav Gallant announced Thursday.

Gallant said Israeli operations have already successfully destroyed multiple Hamas tunnels in the area. The deployment of troops comes as President Biden has warned that the U.S. will pause military aid if Israel moves forward with a full-scale operation in Gaza.

“This operation will continue as additional forces [arrive]. Several tunnels in the area have been destroyed by our troops and additional tunnels will be destroyed soon. This activity will intensify,” Gallant said. “Hamas is not an organization that can reorganize, it does not have reserve troops, it has no supply stocks and no ability to treat the terrorists that we target. The result is that we are wearing Hamas down.”

Israel began ramping up its attacks in both Rafah and northern Gaza earlier this week. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) troops secured a Hamas training ground in eastern Rafah on Wednesday, recovering troves of equipment and vehicles that Hamas had used to simulate combat with Israeli forces.

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Biden issued the ultimatum regarding Rafah operations last week, but he also approved $18 billion in funding for Israel.

Israel has so far backed off from an all-out assault, resorting to more precise strikes. Still, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed that the IDF will root out Hamas from Rafah.

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Rafah plays host to roughly 1.5 million displaced Palestinians, most of whom fled northern Gaza. Israel, however, says the city is also the final major stronghold for Hamas in the region.

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Biden’s administration offered to share intelligence on Hamas leadership with Israel in exchange for restraint in Rafah earlier this week, according to a Washington Post report.

The intelligence the U.S. offered reportedly would allow Israel to better pinpoint Hamas leaders hidden in tunnels around the city, making it possible for the Israeli military to engage in a more precise campaign that could avoid the devastation seen in other areas of Gaza throughout the conflict.

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