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Dan Senor: Israel will go in to Rafah whether Biden likes it or not

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade
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March 21, 2024 12:46 pm

Dan Senor: Israel will go in to Rafah whether Biden likes it or not

Brian Kilmeade Show / Brian Kilmeade

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March 21, 2024 12:46 pm

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On the call today, President Biden asked the Prime Minister to send a senior interagency team composed of military, intelligence, and humanitarian officials to Washington in the coming days to hear U.S. concerns about Israel's current Rafah planning and to lay out an alternative approach that would target key Hamas elements in Rafah and secure the Egypt-Gaza border without a major ground invasion. The Prime Minister agreed that he would send a team. And that's where we're at.

The President had not spoken to the Prime Minister since February, and here we are, passed halfway through March. So they spoke. They want to hear the battle plan.

I don't know why they couldn't zoom it, go to the Situation Room and work it out, but they want to see a battle plan that has a corridor for civilians to get out. They don't challenge the numbers put out by the Hamas Communications Division. They just say 70 percent of everybody that died are women and children, and the world goes crazy and thinks that Israel's lost their minds. When I think the facts a little bit differently, Dan Senor knows everything going on here as it relates to Israeli politics and has great context there. Dan Senor joins us now, and he also had a big interview with Ron Dermer. So, Dan, welcome back. Hey, Brad, great to be with you. I literally just landed from Israel this morning.

You're the first conversation I'm actually having, other than checking with my wife. And I interviewed Ron Dermer in the Prime Minister's office last night in Jerusalem, and then flew overnight in our podcast episode of my Call Me Back podcast, just posted early, early this morning, with, you know, as you're referring to, a lot of news coming out of Jerusalem on this coming, what looks like a day or two but looks like definitely a coming military operation in Rafah, regardless of what the Biden administration thinks. So we know this, the Prime Minister addressed the Republicans, I believe it was in the Senate. Yeah, the Senate caucus, yeah. The Senate caucus, and then he offered to do the Democrats, and Chuck Schumer said no. First off, Chuck Schumer's decision to call for elections in Israel.

How did that go over? I can't overstate how badly it landed in Israel, and how badly it landed among the Jewish community in the United States, and among the broader sort of pro-Israel, pro-strong U.S.-Israel relationship advocacy community in the United States. Israel is a thriving democracy. It is not a perfect country.

The United States is not a perfect country. The United States, though, is, like Israel, a thriving democracy. Israelis choose their leaders. U.S. senators from the well of the Senate do not choose Israel's leaders, and this is not a secret. The Prime Minister Netanyahu right now, his polling has gone way down.

2023 was not a good year for him politically, obviously a combination of the Fed over judicial reforms and then October 7th. So he's unpopular. But when you ask Israelis, should politicians from other countries be deciding who runs Israel?

The reaction is hell no. In fact, Prime Minister Netanyahu is now polling better since Schumer's speech, because people just take offense to this idea that the United States would treat Israel, or a U.S. senator would treat Israel like a banana republic. In fact, even some of Netanyahu's fiercest political opponents, like Benny Gantz, who's serving in this emergency wartime cabinet with him, but will compete against him, no doubt, for the next prime minister, as they've competed against each other in the past. They are pretty bitter political rivals. Again, they serve together in this emergency war cabinet, but there's no love lost between them personally. Benny Gantz is one of the first people to come out with a statement saying, we're a democracy. We choose who our leaders are.

Back off. Naftali Bennett, who is Prime Minister Netanyahu's predecessor, also someone with whom Netanyahu has a tense relationship. Omer supported it. Does that surprise you? Omer it is, yeah. But Omer has taken on this. I mean, he's been out of office for a while. He's had a complicated career since he left office. He's been a sort of knee-jerk critic of everything Netanyahu does, like no matter what he does, including how he's been fighting this war, or prosecuting this war.

So I would take Omer with a grain of salt. But if you look at the immediate characters, the ones who could replace Netanyahu, no one thinks Omer is going to replace Netanyahu. Bennett could be back in office.

He's speculated to be wanting to run again. He was Prime Minister in 2022. And like I said, Netanyahu defeated him.

And then he wants to, Naftali Bennett wants to make a comeback. Gantz has been Defense Minister. He was Defense Minister in Naftali Bennett's government. He was Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister in Netanyahu's last government. He's thought to be someone who could replace Netanyahu.

So these are guys who are in the game now. And even they, they're the ones if the government would fall, if the government were to fall, as Chuck Schumer and I think Joe Biden want to happen, they're the ones who would be in the mix to populate a new government. And even they are saying, uh-uh, you can't do this.

It's inappropriate. Stay out of our domestic politics. And I just can't emphasize enough. I mean, what the administration and I guess Schumer too is trying to do to some extent, is they're so frustrated with the reality that Israel intends to finish this war, right? A genocidal attack is waged on Israel on October 7th. And the idea that Israel is going to do everything it can to wipe out that threat. And it's getting pretty close, by the way.

It's almost done. And so the idea that at the 11th hour, when they're heading into the final phase of this war, the U.S. is starting to have reservations and pull back. And Israel is unfolding to those requests that Israel pull back. And so their response is, well, look, we can't do anything about Israeli policy. So we're just going to demonize the elected leader of Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu, and hope that that scores us some points internationally. It scores us some points domestically with their progressive base. That's what their calculation is.

We'll demonize Netanyahu, make this about Netanyahu, not make this about Israeli policy, because the reality is there's not much they could do about Israeli policy. That's the bet they're making. And I think it's going to backfire.

I think it is backfiring. Well, they're going to have to go into Rafah. Have they established a battle plan? They just want to explain it one on one.

Does the U.S. want to talk them out of what they want to do? So when I spoke to to Minister Dermer yesterday, I pressed him on that and he made clear in our podcast conversation. In fact, you gave me the soundbite.

Should I play it? Oh, yeah, go ahead. Yeah. So here it is.

Let's go to the first one. Is there a point at which Israel says we're going into Rafah even though we don't have the U.S.'s support? Sure it can happen because we'll go into Rafah because we have to we have to dismantle Hamas's military capabilities. If you leave four battalions in Rafah, you've lost the war and Israel's not going to lose the war with or without the United States. We're not going to do it.

We have no choice. And I think what people don't understand is that October 7th is an existential moment for Israel. It's the first time in my lifetime we're about the same age where the existential nerve of the Jewish people was touched. We remember this expulsion of the Jews from Spain in the 15th century, but that's 500 years ago. The Holocaust is not 500 years ago.

It's in living memory. You still have survivors of the Holocaust who are walking amongst us. What you saw on October 7th was a genocidal force that wants to wipe out all the Jews.

And it's the first pogrom that we've had since the birth of the state of Israel. So they're going in anyway. Yeah, so that's exactly right. So he made it clear they're going in. Now, with the administration saying, look, I think they've given up on trying to persuade Israel not to go in.

And I just want to for your listeners, Brian, just just to take a step back. There's northern Gaza, which Israel moved through during the first phase of the war. Then there's central Gaza. You hear these terms like Khan Yunis, which is a major population area in the center of the Gaza Strip. And then there's Rafah, which is in the southern Gaza, which borders up against Egypt. The four to five remaining battalions of Hamas. Israel has taken down almost all of the 24 battalions, but there are about four plus battalions still in Rafah. They're among the most dangerous.

They're the largest. They're likely the ones protecting the most senior leadership of Hamas. And so Israel's attitude is, when I say the most dangerous, Israel's attitude is, when I say Israel, I don't mean just Israel's military leaders. I don't just mean Israel's political leaders. I mean the Israeli public, too.

I just spent time there. You talk to Israelis across the political, religious and ideological spectrum. They're all on the same page on this. Israel has to remove Hamas. They have to finish this war.

And you can't do it without going into Rafah. Benny Gantz, who we mentioned earlier, who's in the war cabinet, he said when he was in Washington a couple of weeks ago, the way he explained it to the administration, it's like calling a fire department to come put out a fire, telling them when they put out 80 percent of the fire to go home. Do they have enough armaments to go in by themselves if we decide to cut them off? Yeah, I do think they are dealing with some triage decision-making based on munitions, but I don't think it relates to Gaza.

I think there are some potential triage issues if suddenly multiple fronts open up, but they have the capabilities of what they need for Rafah. The issue with Rafah is there's a humanitarian issue, which is they need to move the population over half of Gaza's population, so call it 1.3, 1.5 million people are populated right now into that southern part of Gaza, and they want to get as many of the civilians out of there. And that is one issue where the administration and Israel are totally aligned. If Israel is going to go in, they've got to get a lot of the civilian population out of there, and they're trying to figure out how to do that so they can prosecute the war against the Hamas military battalions. But the administration, I think, has given up on trying to persuade Israel not to do it. Israel's been adamant that they're going in. You heard Minister Dermer say it there.

So then the question is how they do it. Now, Israel has a plan to do it, but the administration is saying, okay, before you go in, let us present to you some other ideas of how to do it. And that's what this trip is into Washington. Now, some people I spoke to in Israel when I was just there were saying this is a stall tactic. The administration is just trying to stall the operation. Oh, come to Washington.

Come to Washington next week. We'll have meetings. We'll have briefings to kind of just slow things down.

That may be what's going on. But I got to tell you, every meeting I had in Israel, Brian left me with, including the conversation that we have on my podcast, every one of these conversations left me with the impression they're going in. The Israeli society will not tolerate. Well, part of this is Egypt has hemmed their men.

Right. Egypt will not loosen up their border where Turkey did. And when Syria was in the middle of a civil war, they allowed refugees to come in. Egypt wants no part of it. Nobody wants the innocent Palestinians to go into a refugee camp because they've had bad experiences in the past. There's no pressure on Egypt to do anything. Maybe you want to help. Maybe we could.

Yeah, we could push our situation is crazy. If they were serious about about humanitarian assistance and Palestinian civilians, they would figure out a way to open the border to let Palestinians into Egypt, even in some temporary refugee camp area, something. But Egypt wants nothing to do with it. In fact, I have friends in the U.S. government who are working on getting Palestinian Americans out of Gaza after October 7th. So Palestinians who have American passports, I guess, who are in Gaza and the U.S. government was trying to get them out and they wanted to get them out through Egypt. And the restrictions Egypt would put the U.S. government personnel had to be with every one of these Palestinians at all times as they traveled through Egypt. It's like from Egypt's perspective is they don't want a single Palestinian roaming around their country full stop.

So for all their concern about the humanitarian catastrophe of the Palestinians, Egypt could solve this problem overnight. I'm Guy Benson. Join me weekdays at 3 p.m. Eastern as we break down the biggest stories of the day with some of the biggest newsmakers and guests. Listen live on the Fox News app or get the free podcast at

Here's another cut. This is Ron Dermer talking about what he's going to be doing. In a fundamental way, the promise of this country, in my view, is not just the Jews return to their ancestral homeland. It's that we have the ability to defend ourselves. And in a fundamental way, that promise was broken on October 7th. And I think our job is to restore that promise. And that means utterly dismantling the terror organization of Hamas in Gaza.

It's going to happen. And it will happen even if Israel is forced to fight alone, even if the entire world turns on Israel, including the United States, we're going to fight until the battle won. There's only one possible force that could stop Israel. And that's the Israeli people. And go around this country and speak to them and speak to them across the religious, across the ideological, religious, political.

I've never seen anything like it. So they're dedicated. So what do you think the numbers are in terms of deaths and what do you why do you think the world is just taking Hamas's numbers at face value? So the Hamas run Gaza Ministry of Health, which is really a propaganda arm of Hamas, but they're saying that it's over 30,000 in like 31, 32,000 killed. These numbers, Brian, look, let me see. Obviously, there's a lot of there's a lot of like there is a real human catastrophe in Gaza.

So I don't want to I don't want to understate the reality that the reality is this. There was a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel on October 6th. On October 7th, Hamas broke that ceasefire and started a war. They kicked off the war by unleashing a massacre on an unsuspecting population in Israel. So they started a war. Israel, of course, had to respond defensively to this war. In wars, there is violence. In wars, there are civilians who are tragically collateral damage. Crossfire got caught in the crossfire of violence of that war.

These are just normal facts of life. What makes this war exceptional is two things. One, Israel is going to extraordinary lengths, extraordinary lengths, to telegraph to civilian populations where it will be, when it will be, conducting military operations in the hope that the civilians can move out of the way. This is quite unprecedented.

There are military historians like Andrew Roberts or this guy Johnson, this guy John Spencer, who's the head of the urban warfare studies at West Point, who say they've never seen in history a military go to the lengths that Israel is going to alert the civilian population. But what are the numbers? What do you think the numbers are?

So obviously, we don't know. We don't really know because there's two problems with the numbers. One is, the numbers that the Gaza Health Ministry releases doesn't provide composition of civilians to fighters.

So they treat all numbers as though they're all civilians. So they say it's over 30,000. They say 31,000. I think 31,000 plus is the latest number, but they don't specify what the fighters' numbers are.

Ron Dermer is estimating somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000 fighters have been killed. That's the first thing. The second thing is that... Dan, real quick, I'm up against Rick.

Unfortunately, I'm going to have to close it there. Where do we get your podcast? Did you call me back? You can find it on Apple, Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever. Search for call me back or my name, Dan Senor, and you will find the podcast and the new episode.

Dan Senor, fresh off from Israel. Call us right away. Dan, thanks so much. Fantastic. All right. See you, Brad. Take care. Bye.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-21 14:15:22 / 2024-03-21 14:22:27 / 7

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