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Israel defiant after U.S. warns it will halt arms shipments over Rafah

TEL AVIV - Israel is ready to "stand alone" in the fight against its enemies, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement Thursday, after President Biden warned that he would halt the flow of certain weapons if Israeli troops invaded Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

"If we have to stand alone, we will stand alone," Netanyahu said in a recorded video message, without specifically mentioning the United States, Israel's closest ally. Other Israeli officials criticized Biden directly, calling his decision "disappointing and frustrating," and referring to the shift in U.S. policy as an "arms embargo" against Israel, the most serious public rift since the start of the war.

Israel now has "a choice ... to make" on whether it will escalate in Rafah, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Thursday. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) seized control of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt this week - and its leaders have said a full-blown invasion is necessary to eliminate the last Hamas battalions in Gaza.


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