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Ben-Gvir faces calls for removal after posting 'Hamas loves Biden' on X

Far-right Israeli politician was responding to Biden's warning to halt arms shipments over a Rafah invasion
Itamar Ben-Gvir, Israel's national security minister since 2022, is in control of Israel’s police in the occupied West Bank (Abir Sultan/AFP)

Israel's National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Thursday posted "Hamas ♥ Biden" on the social media platform X after the US president warned he would halt arms shipments if Israel carries out a "full-scale" invasion of Rafah.

"Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs and other ways in which they go after population centres," Biden said in an interview with CNN on Wednesday.

Biden's words mark the first time he has explicitly said that the US is considering conditioning arms transfers to Israel.

Around 80,000 people have fled Rafah since Israel launched an intensified military operation in the area on Monday, the UN Palestinian refugee agency (Unrwa) said.

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Ben-Gvir, known for his ultra-right-wing views, has previously advocated for more lenient open-fire regulations for Israeli soldiers, publicly admitted that his right to movement is superior to the freedom of movement for Palestinians, and called for the execution of Palestinian prisoners to ease overcrowding in Israeli jails. 

Following the post, Ben-Gvir faced calls for his dismissal among Israeli politicians, the Times of Israel reported on Thursday.

Shortly after the post, opposition leader Yair Lapid released a statement declaring that "if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not fire Ben Gvir today, he is endangering every soldier in the IDF and every citizen in the State of Israel". 

Lapid's criticism of Ben-Gvir was echoed by Israeli President Isaac Herzog, who called the comment "irresponsible and insulting" and emphasised that the American leader is "a great friend of the State of Israel".

Rafah's population at 'edge of survival' 

Israel's military spokesperson Daniel Hagari on Thursday said the military has the amount of munitions it requires to proceed with its operations in Rafah, as well as operations in other parts of Gaza.

Netanyahu also responded to President Biden on Thursday, saying that his country would continue fighting the war by any means necessary. "As I have already said, if we must, we shall fight with our fingernails," Netanyahu said in a video statement.

Israel has already launched an operation into Rafah, seizing the crossing with Egypt, but the Biden administration says this is not the “full-scale” invasion it is opposed to.

In spite of Biden's warning, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Wednesday said that Israel would do whatever was necessary to achieve its war objectives in Gaza and the north. 

"We will stand strong, we will achieve our goals - we will hit Hamas, we will hit Hezbollah, and we will achieve security", Gallant told Israel's "enemies and friends". 

Earlier today, Gaza's health ministry released a new press release proclaiming that Israel's closing of the Rafah and Keren Shalom crossings constituted "a new genocide", as it prevented travel for wounded and sick people and blocked the entry of "aid, medicine, medical supplies, food, trucks, and the fuel needed to operate hospitals".

It also announced that 60 people had been killed in Israeli attacks on the Palestinian enclave in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 34,904 killed since 7 October when the war broke out.

An Israeli ground incursion into Rafah would expose the more than 600,000 children in Rafah already “highly vulnerable and at the edge of survival" to "catastrophic risks”, the UN’s children agency, Unicef, has warned. 

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