'Chaos & Power Vacuum' in WH is Why Israel Snubs US Advice on Gaza - Sy Hersh
09:40 GMT 14.11.2023 (Updated: 09:53 GMT 14.11.2023)
While offering Israel unwavering support, the Biden administration has blocked calls for a ceasefire in Gaza at the UN. US officials also put on a show of shuttle diplomacy across the Middle East, while talking behind closed doors with Israeli leadership to contain reelection fallout for POTUS, Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service has claimed.
Israel has dismissed any advice from the White House regarding its operation in Gaza because “there is a power vacuum in Washington,” Seymour Hersh has cited sources as saying.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not been listening to the “waffling” of the Biden administration, the US investigative journalist wrote on Substack.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have been intensifying their Gaza operation to eliminate Hamas amid global protests over the spiraling Palestinian civilian death toll. Over 11,000 people, many of them children, have already died in the enclave, according to the Gazan Health Ministry. There have been global marches of protest against what is seen as a disproportionate military response on the part of Israel, with similar demonstrations in the US as well. While the US was quick to announce at the start of Israel’s retaliation for the Hamas October 7 attack that it “had its back,” it launched a feeble attempt at shuttle diplomacy.
US President Joe Biden made two trips to Israel, followed by Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s unsuccessful diplomatic push to the region, and CIA Director Bill Burns’ Middle East foray to allegedly “work on the release of hostages,” Sy Hersh underscored. However, “Netanyahu continues to do as he wishes in Gaza,” the journalist added.
When asked of the impact of those visits by Biden officials, an informed US source told Hersh: “Bibi to those three blind mice: ‘Shaddup already.’”
The US official elaborated:
“There is a power vacuum in Washington. No one is running the show… It’s chaos in the White House. They are saying the same things over and over. They are doing what they think will get the president re-elected. He is a George the Third. It’s scary, and it is disgraceful.”
Earlier on Monday, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) also supported this notion, saying that the United States was calling on Israel to accelerate its operation in the Gaza Strip behind closed doors as it may negatively affect President Joe Biden’s reelection bid in case of prolongation.
It should be added that the Biden administration unilaterally blocked calls by dozens of countries at the UN to institute a ceasefire in Gaza last month. President Biden reiterated only last week that there was “no possibility” for a ceasefire in Gaza, while National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Tel Aviv had agreed to set in place four-hour daily “humanitarian pauses” in Gaza’s northern areas to allow for Palestinians to “get out of harm’s way.”
13 November, 12:36 GMT
Opening for ‘Possible Settlement’ of War
As for the developments in Gaza City, the IDF is “constantly tightening the noose” around Hamas fighters, underscored sources cited by Sy Hersh.
“Contrary to all the worries… on the ground it’s turning out to be a piece of cake,” an official told the journalist, adding that the IDF, “is operating under very highly controlled fire discipline. They are destroying structures that previously were bombed,” and are “cutting off access to the sea and to the north and south” for Hamas fighters in the tunnels underground.
Furthermore, an opening might be emerging for a “possible settlement” of the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, Seymour Hersh underscored. Hamas was described as displaying a “change in tone” by sources, and had begun talking about an exchange of its prisoners in Israel for the hostages it captured in the surprise terrorist attack on October 7.
This was “a sign that the war is moving quickly toward a settlement,” a US official was cited as saying. Talk about trading hostages for prisoners generated hope in the American intelligence community because Hamas, “now facing surrender or death, had a last chance to get any benefits from hostages,” the insider added.
Specifically, the change in tone was linked to the fact that two Hamas leaders, Yahya Sinwar and Mohammed Deif, had reportedly fled Gaza City, as well as increased use of sniper fire near Gaza’s biggest hospital – Al-Shifa – along with five other hospitals. “There was no need to bomb now,” said the insider. Hamas allegedly proposed a 72-hour ceasefire that would allow time to seek out and recover hostages from the October 7 attack, with negotiations about that possibility “ongoing,” according to an insider.
At the same time, ongoing collapse of the Hamas tunnel system as a result of Israeli bombing “left clues suggesting where the Israeli hostages might be kept,” wrote Hersh. Furthermore, insiders claimed that the “Israeli special operations community” was urging considering a raid that could free the hostages without any need to bargain with Hamas.
Earlier, Israeli intelligence suggested that the Hamas hostages may have been transferred from the tunnels to the basement of Al-Shifa, according to the journalist. Now, with the surrounding neighborhood heavily bombed, the hospital might be “the last stand," a quoted source claimed. "They are planning to come in shooting,” said the insider, in reference to the Israeli Air Force's reportedly planned mission to "destroy the hospital and expose the tunnel openings, for the follow-on infantry forces."
As for Benjamin Netanyahu’s post-war planning, he intends to “remake the governing structure in Gaza and the West Bank,” sources informed Hersh. A rebuilt Gaza City would be “secured by Israeli police or military force, with a revitalized Palestinian Authority, under new leadership approved by Israel, in charge of governance in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.”
11 November, 15:01 GMT