The walls are closing in on Benjamin Netanyahu as US largely silent after deadly strike on Rafah

27 May 2024, 17:13 | Updated: 27 May 2024, 19:53

There have been many potential turning points in this war, and every time Israel has remained determinedly on the path it's set: to destroy Hamas.

The deadly strike in Rafah on Sunday night feels like another of those moments, and, possibly, could be the point that Benjamin Netanyahu is forced to turn.

The White House is yet to comment fully, but Joe Biden had been openly opposed to a major Israeli offensive inside Rafah - this will surely have confirmed their fears.

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That position is only likely to harden if it's found US-supplied weapons were used.

This strike happened only days after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered a halt to operations in Rafah and less than a week after the International Criminal Court sought warrants for Mr Netanyahu and Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant's arrests.

It's assumed the UN Security Council will sit this week to discuss the ICJ ruling - what the US will choose to do is still unclear.

Israel will hope, and expect, they have their backs as usual, but doing so would undermine international law and risk Mr Biden being called a hypocrite after he so fulsomely supported a similar ruling against Russia in 2022.

European countries have mostly come out very strongly against Israel - President Emmanuel Macron said he was "outraged", the Italian government said the fighting cannot go on, and the European Union is starting to discuss the previously unthinkable: sanctions.

That course, if it's taken, would harm Israel far more than Europe.

Under what is known as the EU-Israel Association Agreement, the two sides trade goods worth €47bn (£39bn) annually.

However, while the EU is Israel's largest trade partner, Israel only represents less than 1% of the EU's total trade.

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Sir Keir Starmer said he would tell Mr Netanyahu to stop fighting, if he was prime minister now. The actual Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is yet to comment.

But there is a sense now that the walls are closing in on Mr Netanyahu and this government, that allies are stepping back from Israel, that international institutions are gathering momentum.

The Israeli prime minister remains defiant, but he is losing friends, and fast.