Israel Persists in Defending Her People Amidst a Strained Relationship with the U.S.

By Arlene Bridges Samuels

Like a ship gradually coming loose from its moorings, the U.S.-Israel relationship is heading into rough waters. It’s facing enormous controversy between the President of the United States and Israel’s Prime Minister. The waves of conflict are out in the open, with Biden telegraphing unmistakable signals to Israel—first about pulling back from Rafah in southern Gaza, and now about Israelis backing off from defending themselves against Hezbollah in the north.

In May, Biden threatened the Middle East’s only democracy about moving into Rafah, saying he would halt some shipments of American weapons into Israel. Netanyahu responded, “I hope we can see eye to eye with the United States. We’re talking to them, but ultimately we do what we have to do to protect the life of our nation.” Netanyahu has also made it clear that Israel will not leave Gaza “until we return all 120 of our hostages, both the living and dead.”

Amid the contention on the global stage, the U.S., EU, Qatar, and other countries are demanding that Israel secure the safety of Gazan civilians. However, mostly overlooked, Israel has repeatedly set up safe zones up and down Gaza, and successfully moved about 1 million Gazans from Rafah into well-defined safe zone boundaries with tents, food, and water. To infer that Israel is lax in its determination to protect civilians undermines the long-held humanitarian policies of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). In fact, Israel’s own policies of warning Gazans in advance has increased deaths and injuries among Israel’s military. No other country on earth lets its enemies know when they are coming.

Meanwhile, Israel is “doing what it must do to protect the life” of Israel by moving ahead with important inroads to rid Rafah of the Hamas terrorists. This, despite Prime Minister Netanyahu’s observation in a June 23 interview that “there has been a dramatic decline in the supply of munitions from the United States.”

However, the IDF’s biggest shock was yet to come. In Rafah, they discovered some 50 sophisticated tunnels—likely Egyptian engineered—some of which are large enough to drive trucks through from Egypt into Gaza. This means that Egypt, which has had a peace treaty with Israel since 1980, has raked in millions of dollars from large-sized weapons flowing into Gaza.

During the hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Israel’s Deputy Attorney General Gilad Noam attempted to persuade that assembly with those facts. “Nearly 700 tunnel shafts have been identified in Rafah,” he stated. “These tunnels are used by Hamas to supply itself with weapons and ammunition.” Further, he warned, they could “potentially be used to smuggle out of Gaza hostages or Hamas senior operators.” Unfortunately, these unbelievable findings made no difference to the UN court, which ordered Israel not to go into Rafah.

It’s been nothing short of a miracle—the IDF first moving a million Gazans out of harm’s way, then going in with their decision as a sovereign nation, and then making these major discoveries. And the combined pushback that Israel now knows about may be just the tip of the iceberg about which leaders are complicit, in additional disturbing ways.

For an in-depth explanation of Rafah’s importance, the perspective of Brigadier General Amir Avivi is quite revealing. Rafah—the last Hamas stronghold—is located on the Egyptian border. The combined Egypt/Rafah/Hamas role serves as the economic engine for Hamas’s terrorists and weapons shipments. Hamas has four battalions of thousands of hate-motivated men in Rafah. The IDF is also discovering more evidence of the Hamas terror mindset and practices: weapons stored under baby cribs and terrorists operating tunnels under the UNRWA headquarters.

Despite the intensely complex challenges in Rafah, last Sunday IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. General Halevi, in his briefing to the IDF in Rafah reported good news: that “they’re about to finish off Rafah’s brigade of four battalions.” It is one of the biggest, most important achievements in the war against terror that the Philadelphi Corridor is now controlled by IDF Division 162. The corridor runs the full length of the Egypt-Gaza border. Halevi said the hard-fought victory will “prevent Hamas from its smuggling operations.”

Had Prime Minister Netanyahu and his military leaders backed down from entering Rafah, where the IDF destroyed tunnels and took control of the Philadelphi Corridor, Hamas would have continued to transport Iran-financed weapons into Gaza with Egypt as an accomplice. Hamas’s evil intent to murder every Jew has not changed. More weapons mean more attacks and assaults launched against the Jewish nation.

Looking up to the north on Israel’s tense border with Lebanon, Hezbollah is endangering the Christian Lebanese population speaking out against it. In eight months, the terrorist organization has already fired 5,000 projectiles into Israel, killing 25 Israelis (both civilian and soldiers). More than 80,000 Israelis were forced to evacuate from their homes shortly after the Hamas war began. Twenty thousand acres are burned and nearly 1,000 homes and large parts of the towns have been destroyed.

The Hezbollah all-out war is a reality. President Biden has already told Israel not to engage with Hezbollah because it might “risk drawing Iran in.” Truth be told, last fall Biden unfroze Iran’s billions and sent the cash to the Islamic Regime. Add Biden’s unwise effort to resuscitate the ineffectual 2015 Iran deal, and now the Middle East is heading toward a potential World War III footing.     

Biden doubled down through his Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. General Charles Brown commented, “The U.S. will NOT be able to assist Israel in the war against Hezbollah as it assisted it in intercepting the missile and drone attack from Iran in April.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu needs no advice or lessons from President Biden. Again, Netanyahu responded as the strong leader of his endangered, yet eternal nation in a speech to Knesset on Sunday: “At any cost and in any way, we will thwart Iran’s intentions to destroy us.” As he spoke to the leaders and press in the room, he reminded the world that Israel is currently “in an existential war of seven fronts.”

Our CBN Israel team invites you to pray with us amid Israel’s dark days, knowing that God keeps His word in His time. Exodus 23:31 promises, “I will establish your borders from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, and from the desert to the Euphrates River. I will give into your hands the people who live in the land, and you will drive them out before you.”

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for the IDF during their preparations for an expanded defensive war against Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
  • Pray for Israeli families that have lost sons recently fighting for their country.
  • Pray for American Jews who have been attacked by pro-Hamas activists in their synagogues, homes, and streets.
  • Pray for Christians across the globe to express their commitment in words and deed toward Jewish friends near and far.

Arlene Bridges Samuels pioneered Christian outreach for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). After she served nine years on AIPAC’s staff, International Christian Embassy Jerusalem USA engaged her as Outreach Director part-time for their project, American Christian Leaders for Israel. Arlene is an author at The Blogs-Times of Israel and has traveled to Israel since 1990. She co-edited The Auschwitz Album Revisited and is on the board of Violins of Hope South Carolina. By invitation, Arlene attends Israel’s Government Press Office Christian Media Summits. She also hosts her devotionals, The Eclectic Evangelical, on her website at

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