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Private US Firm With Special Forces Veterans To Take Control Of Rafah Border Crossing

Private US Firm With Special Forces Veterans To Take Control Of Rafah Border Crossing

Despite the Biden administration repeatedly warning Israeli leadership in public against a full-scale Rafah invasion, President Biden actually greenlighted the IDF’s takeover of the Rafah border crossing, Axios has revealed. The report comes amid questions over whether Netanyahu has crossed Biden’s “red line” on Rafah.

The report insists that Israel hasn’t crossed that line, so long as the scope of the operation remains limited and does not result in mass civilian displacement and humanitarian catastrophe. Speaking of the Biden-Netanyahu phone call on Monday, a senor Israeli official told Axios, “Biden didn’t pull the hand break on the capture of the Rafah crossing during the call.” So far the IDF has focused on airstrikes and limited ground incursions in the city’s east, after dropping thousands of leaflets telling civilians to exit the area.

However, the US administration has taken the unprecedented step of withholding ammo and bomb shipments to Israel in order to send a ‘message’. 

An Israeli Haaretz report issued Tuesday has further revealed that there was actually some level of cooperation and coordination with Washington on an IDF tank unit’s takeover of Rafah crossing. This was reportedly to ensure no weapons for Hamas can pass into the Strip via the large crossing.

The US, Israel, and Egypt have agreed that a private American security firm will take control of Rafah Crossing and oversee it. As of Wednesday, the IDF has announced it reopened the crossing, and it is retaining full control for now.

“The parties agreed that a private American security company will assume management of the crossing after the IDF concludes its operation. Israel has also pledged not to damage the crossing’s facilities to ensure its continuous operation,” wrote Haaretz. However, “State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Wednesday that he is not aware of Israel agreeing to transfer control of the crossing.”

This is also to exert leverage in negotiations. “Israel believes that Hamas’ loss of control over the Rafah crossing would be a significant setback for the group,” Haaretz noted. “It will not be able to collect taxes imposed on trucks and goods and will no longer be able to bring in weapons and other items banned from entering Gaza.”

Haaretz revealed limited details on the US defense firm in question and has not named it. It employs elite former US military personnel such as ex-special forces operators

As part of Israel’s efforts to win agreement for a Rafah operation, negotiations have been underway with a private company in the U.S. that specializes in assisting armies and governments around the world engaged in military conflicts. The company has operated in several African and Middle Eastern countries, guarding strategic sites like oil fields, airports, army bases and sensitive border crossings. It employs veterans of elite U.S. Army units.

Under the understandings between the three countries, when Israel has completed its limited operation in the border crossing area, the U.S. company will take responsibility for operating the facility. That includes monitoring goods arriving in the Gaza Strip from Egypt and preventing Hamas from re-establishing control of the crossing. According to the agreement, Israel and the U.S. will assist the company as necessary.

It the report is accurate, it would mean American military contractors would be put in harm’s way, and that US elite veterans could eventually enter a firefight with Palestinian militants.

US contractors on the ground would certainly also be seen as a key target for Hamas and other Palestinian militant groups (such as PIJ). Hamas has long warned that any foreign troops or military entity that enters the Gaza Strip will find itself under attack.

But there has yet to be any official government confirmation of the US contractor plan for Rafah crossing from either Washington or Tel Aviv, and time will tell if such a controversial plan comes to fruition. If it happens, this means American military contractors would be active in two major hot conflicts: Ukraine and Gaza (not to mention in eastern Syria and Iraq as well).


Wed, 05/08/2024 – 12:25

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