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War on Gaza: Netanyahu denies US convinced Israel not to expand military operations

Israeli premier says his country's actions 'not dictated by external pressures' following Wall Street Journal report
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya military base, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defence, in Tel Aviv on 24 December 2023 (Ohad Zwigenberg/AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed reports that Washington convinced Israel not to expand its military offensive during a weekly cabinet meeting on Sunday.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday that Netanyahu was persuaded by US President Joe Biden not to attack Hezbollah in Lebanon out of concerns it would launch an attack on Israel similar to the 7 October attack launched by Hamas.

However, Netanyahu denied the report on Sunday, saying Israel's actions were "not dictated by external pressures".

"I have seen false publications claiming that the US prevented and is preventing us from operational operations in the region," Netanyahu said. "This is not true. Israel is a sovereign state. Our decisions in the war are based on our operational considerations and I will not elaborate on that."

"The decision on how to use our forces is an independent decision of the IDF [Israeli army] and no one else."

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Israel's military bombardment of the Gaza Strip has killed more than 20,000 Palestinians, the majority of whom are women and children, according to the health ministry.

Despite widespread criticism internationally, Israel and its close ally the United States have been steadfast in their opposition to a ceasefire, claiming it would only benefit Hamas.

The US has instead shown support for "pauses" in fighting to protect civilians and release captives taken by Hamas fighters during their attack on southern Israel.

However, recent votes at the UN have pointed to Washington becoming increasingly isolated in its fervent backing of Israel's war on Gaza

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