Netanyahu: US response to Hamas would have been ‘at least as strong’ as Israel’s

‘Look, we were attacked in the worst attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust,’ said Netanyahu.

By Vered Weiss, World Israel News

Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu had a 45-minute phone conversation with US President Joe Biden, during which the two discussed the release of hostages and military operations in Rafah.

It is the first contact the heads of state had since Biden’s harsh criticism of Israel’s military actions with his describing the operation in Gaza as “over the top” last week.

Prior to the phone call, when asked about the US President’s comments in an interview with Fox News, Netanyahu said, “I don’t know exactly what he meant by that.”

Netanyahu added, “Look, we were attacked in the worst attack on Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

He continued, “That Oct. 7 massacre was equivalent to 20 9/11s in one day and the equivalent of 50,000 Americans slaughtered, burned, maimed, raped, beheaded, and 10,000 Americans taken hostage, including mothers and children.”

“So, what would America’s response be? I would say it would be at least as strong as Israel’s and many Americans tell me, ‘We would have flattened them. We would have turned them into dust,’ ”Netanyahu said.

Most of the phone conversation focused on fraught negotiations to release the remaining 136 hostages with the deal at an impasse given Hamas’s demand for a permanent ceasefire, a condition Israel refused.

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Biden urged Netanyahu to send a delegation to Cairo for hostage negotiations even if “you don’t see a horizon.”

According to a White House Statement, “The President and the Prime Minister discussed ongoing efforts to secure the release of all remaining hostages held by Hamas.”

“The President emphasized the need to capitalize on progress made in the negotiations to secure the release of all hostages as soon as possible,” the statement continued.

Although the statement also said, “The President reaffirmed the shared goal to see Hamas defeated and to ensure the long-term security of Israel and its people,” the President discouraged a military operation in Rafah without a “credible and executable plan” to ensure the safety of the more than one million Palestinian civilians.

Prime Minister Netanyahu replied that just as it has conducted the preceding phases of the war in keeping with the “highest standards” of international law, “we will know how to do the same in Rafah.”

Netanyahu also stressed that military operations in Rafah are crucial to destroying Hamas’s hold on Gaza and that the IDF would take critical steps to preserve civilian lives.

In addition, Biden insisted that Netanyahu ensure that at least 200 trucks of humanitarian aid reaches Gaza daily.

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Last week, National Security Spokesman John Kirby said the “the United States will not support major Israeli military operations in Rafah.”

In an interview on ABC News on Sunday morning, Netanyahu said, “Those who say that we should not operate there in any way are actually telling us to leave Hamas there and lose the war.”