After U.S. Pressure, IDF Leaves Southern Gaza; Hamas Declares Victory

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced Sunday that it had withdrawn its forces from southern Gaza, following a demand from U.S. President Joe Biden last week for an “immediate ceasefire.” Hamas declared victory on the news.

The decision, coming on the day Israelis marked six months since the October 7 attack, came as a surprise, and as Israeli negotiators flew to Cairo for hostage negotiations. Hamas has demanded a ceasefire before any new deal.

The IDF will leave one brigade in Gaza, whose role will be to allow Israeli troops access to return as necessary. It will also carry out targeted operations, such as the successful raid at Shifa Hospital last month.

The Jerusalem Post reported:

As Breitbart News reported, Biden demanded an “immediate ceasefire” in response to the accidental killing of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers last Tuesday, when an IDF drone team mistook them for Hamas terrorists.

The incident was Hamas’s greatest success in the war: there is evidence that the terrorists deliberately confused the IDF about the vehicles. Hamas uses human shields and civilian casualties as part of its asymmetric war strategy.

Biden’s demand came after the U.S. had already allowed the United Nations Security Council to pass a resolution that separated a ceasefire from a deal to return the remaining 130 or so Israeli hostages, adopting Hamas’s core demand.

The Biden administration had also opposed an Israeli operation in the town of Rafah, near the Egyptian border, which was the last Hamas stronghold, and the key to Israeli victory in the war. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said in February that such an operation would end the war in “weeks,” not “months,” but Biden refused to support Israel, implying that the U.S. would curtail weapons and ammunition supplies if Israel disobeyed.

Biden appeared to be responding to electoral considerations, after Muslim- and Arab-American voters in the key swing state of Michigan threatened not to support him, and young “progressive” voters sided with the Palestinians.

Israel also has other threats to worry about: Iran has been threatening a direct attack for days, having used its Hezbollah proxy in Lebanon to threaten Israel’s northern region. Some IDF troops from Gaza are being moved north.

The prospect of losing U.S. support and ammunition on the eve of a potential war in the north — which would be much more intense than the Gaza conflict — is also a likely motivation for Israel to comply with Biden’s posture.

However, the Israeli public may not accept the government’s decision. Israelis want the Gaza mission completed. Only a successful hostage deal may placate critics, as domestic pressure on the Netanyahu government grows.

There is one additional consideration: the U.S. elections in November. Israel may have decided its best chance to defeat its enemies will come with change in the White House, given Biden’s growing, perhaps permanent hostility.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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