US able to threaten to withhold aid because Hamas is significantly depleted – Kirby

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

The White House indicates that it has taken the far-reaching step of threatening to withhold aid from Israel at this stage in the war because it feels that Hamas has been significantly depleted.

“We believe that [Israel has] put an enormous amount of pressure on Hamas and that there are better ways to go after what is left of Hamas in Rafah than a major ground operation,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby says in a briefing with reporters.

“Early on in the conflict, Hamas didn’t feel and hadn’t suffered the kinds of pressure and the kinds of casualties that they have suffered now,” he says.

“[Israel has] eliminated a lot of the leaders through the fighting that they have conducted over the last several months. They have decimated the ranks of many of their units. The picture of Hamas today is not what it was six months ago,” Kirby continues.

The White House spokesperson adds that the decision by US President Joe Biden to issue the threat also had to do with the “preps for a major operation in Rafah and certainly rhetoric around that” coming out of Israel.

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