The current position of the Biden administration seems to be: The U.S. fully supports Israel’s mission to defeat Hamas, in theory—as long as the IDF doesn’t attempt to complete its mission in actuality.

It makes sense as long as you don’t think about it.

The point of the Gaza ground offensive is to clear Hamas out of Gaza. There are four Hamas battalions in Rafah, a city in Gaza. So the IDF is going to remedy that. This is neither complicated nor unreasonable.

But Rafah is the site of the only Gaza border crossing into Egypt, and Egypt doesn’t really want the IDF poking around in there. The Biden administration sides with Cairo, saying an operation in Rafah is “not something that we would support.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s response amounts to: I’m sorry you feel that way.

What explains all three positions? This post, by former IDF spokesman and current FDD fellow Jonathan Conricus sums it up pretty well: “As both Egypt and the US are ratcheting up pressure on Israel not to take Rafah, it makes you wonder what embarrassing evidence Israeli combat engineers may find in the tunnels from Egypt to Gaza. Only one way to find out, and my guess is that soon we will.”

In fairness to the Biden administration, there are over a million Gazans in Rafah because of the multiple evacuations elsewhere in the strip. So the U.S. may come around, perhaps grudgingly, to the Rafah operation once proper evacuations of the civilian population have taken place.

And that is precisely what Netanyahu intends, per a statement his office released: “It is impossible to achieve the war goal of eliminating Hamas and leave four Hamas battalions in Rafah. On the other hand, it is clear that a massive operation in Rafah requires the evacuation of the civilian population from the combat zones.”

Jonathan Schanzer explained here in December why Cairo is in no rush to “discover” and demolish Hamas’s tunnels: “Despite some early Sisi regime successes in dismantling those tunnels (including by flooding them), the Gaza-Sinai border has become a major zone for Hamas smuggling activity. Weapons and cash move all too freely beneath what is known as the Philadelphi Corridor along the Gaza-Sinai border. In recent years, these tunnels have also enabled Hamas leaders and fighters to come and go as they please.”

The global complicity in Hamas’s brutal reign is quite a thing to behold. Egypt won’t accept even the temporary residency of Palestinian civilians, but it knows that under its nose Hamas leaders mosey in and out of the Sinai. The Qataris only possess leverage in the hostage talks because they are Hamas’s checking account, funding their wayward buddy’s murder habit. Turkey is, for crying out loud, in NATO. And yet Ankara hosts Hamas offices, aids the group financially, gives it diplomatic backing whenever conflict flares up (always at Hamas’s instigation), and even temporarily hosted one of the key planners of the October 7 rampage, Saleh al-Arouri. (Israel eliminated Arouri in Lebanon right around the new year.)

None of this even gets into the support Hamas gets through the various agencies of the United Nations, or from naïve-seeming Western nations, or even the fundraisers on America’s college campuses.

All of which is to say: On this issue, there isn’t much credibility to go around. Israel deserves full support from a chastened community of nations—especially those that will benefit from a Hamas defeat. That includes Egypt, which will sit on its hands while Israel dismantles terror tunnels underneath Egyptian sands. In fact, defeating Hamas will benefit everyone in the region who is threatened by Iranian expansionism. And this certainly includes the Biden administration. Washington’s sudden obsession with taking “irreversible” steps toward the establishment of a Palestinian state cannot even be contemplated so long as Hamas rules a single square foot of land on which such a state would stand.

All these countries’ opinions on Gaza deserved consideration up until the moment October 7 revealed a dearth of clean hands among them. And if the IDF’s operation in Rafah further embarrasses Hamas’s enablers, so be it.

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