Saturday, May 25, 2024

Biden pressures Netanyahu on Rafah military operation, urges captive deal in call

US President Joe Biden has pressured the Israeli government against a full invasion of Rafah in the Gaza Strip during a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, the White House announced.

Biden “reiterated his clear position” on Rafah during the call, the White House said, as the Israeli military approaches an invasion of the southern Gaza city. The Biden administration has repeatedly called on the Israeli military against entering the city without a clear plan to avoid mass civilian casualties.

Israel has increased strikes on Rafah in recent days, as Israeli leaders claim invading the city is a military necessity in the campaign to rout Hamas from Gaza. Netanyahu has announced that a date for invading Rafah has been set, though the State Department said earlier this month that plans have not been communicated to U.S. leaders.

Biden also continued discussions of a potential hostage agreement between Israel and Hamas. More than 100 hostages taken during the Oct. 7 attack remain under Hamas’s control, though negotiations toward a second hostage agreement have slowed in recent weeks.

The president also discussed the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the White House added, working with Netanyahu to open additional humanitarian corridors into the territory from Israel. The United Nations and humanitarian organizations in Gaza have warned that the region has fallen into famine, with a severe lack of access to food and medical supplies.

“The President stressed the need for this progress to be sustained and enhanced in full coordination with humanitarian organizations,” the White House said of humanitarian aid expansion.

A U.S.-backed seaport in Gaza is scheduled to begin aid shipments directly into the territory by sea early next month, senior military officials stated last week.

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