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Following Biden's arms threat, Netanyahu vows Israel will fight 'with its fingernails'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said Israel will stand alone in its fight against Hamas if it has to after U.S. President Joe Biden said they wouldn't supply Israel with weapons to invade Rafah, a city in southern Gaza. Pool photo by Amir Cohen/UPI
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday said Israel will stand alone in its fight against Hamas if it has to after U.S. President Joe Biden said they wouldn't supply Israel with weapons to invade Rafah, a city in southern Gaza. Pool photo by Amir Cohen/UPI | License Photo

May 10 (UPI) -- Israel will stand alone and fight Hamas "with its fingernails" if it has to, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed in response to the United States threatening to withhold weaponry if his administration follows through with a controversial plan to invade the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

"We are determined and we are united in order to defeat our enemies and those who want to destroy us," Netanyahu said Thursday in a recorded statement. "If we need to stand alone, we will stand alone. I have said that if necessary, we will fight with our fingernails."

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The Israeli leader made the comment ahead of the country's independence day on Tuesday and a day after President Joe Biden said publicly that it would not give it offensive weapons to use in Rafah if it invaded the Palestinian city.

The United States has been fully supportive of Israel and its war, sending it billion of dollars in military assistance, since it began Oct. 7 with Hamas' bloody surprise attack on the Middle Eastern country.

Though as the war in Gaza has dragged on, and as the death toll has ballooned to the tens of thousands, the Biden administration has grown openly frustrated with Israel, repeatedly calling on it to do more to protect Gazans.

Israel has seemingly flouted the criticism from its closest ally, and has for months argued its position on the need to enter Rafah where the remaining Hamas warriors in the enclave are believed to be hiding.

The destruction of Hamas and ensuring the inability of Gaza to be used to attack Israel again are two of several goals Israel seeks to achieve to secure victory in the war.

However, the United States, along with other nations and the United Nations, has now openly voiced opposition to the ground campaign, warning that it could create a humanitarian catastrophe.

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And on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that the Biden administration has held up a shipment of bombs to Israel for re-evaluation over concerns of the looming Rafah campaign.

Later that same day, Biden said publicly for the first time that if the campaign is carried out, the United States would not send it weapons to be used in the invasion.

"I've made it clear to Bibi and the War Cabinet, they're not going to get our support if, in fact, they go into these population centers," Biden said, referring to Netanyahu by his nickname.

"We're not walking away from Israel's security, we're walking away from Israel's ability to wage war in those areas."

Seemingly as proof that Israel does not need the United States' support, Netanyahu referred in his recorded response to the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, when five Arab nations attacked Israel after it declared its independence as a state on May 14 of that year, according to the U.S. Office of the Historian.

He said few had sided with them in the conflict, which they did not have weapons to fight due to an embargo on the state.

"But with great strength of spirit, heroism and unity among us -- we were victorious," he said.

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Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant similarly rebutted Biden's comments in a speech Thursday.

"I turn to Israel's enemies as well as to our best friends and say: the state of Israel cannot be subdued -- not the army, no the defense establishment and not the state of Israel," he said.

"We will stand strong, we will achieve our goals, we will hit Hamas, we will hit Hezbollah and we will achieve security."

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