Saturday, April 13, 2024

Report: US privately tells Israel it will accept small-scale raid on Rafah

A report from US news site Politico says that senior American officials have told their Israeli counterparts that the administration of President Joe Biden will support hitting “high-value Hamas targets in and underneath Rafah” in the besieged Gaza Strip.

The report cites four unnamed US officials, who told Politico that the US wants Israel to avoid a large-scale invasion of the southern Gaza City, where some 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are sheltered after fleeing Israeli bombardment in other parts of the Strip.

“In private conversations, top administration officials have signaled to Israel that they could support a plan more akin to counterterrorism operations than all-out war, four US officials said”, the report notes.

“That, the administration officials argue, would minimize civilian casualties, decimate Hamas’ ranks and avoid scenes that have led to souring public opinion on Israel’s campaign and Biden’s handling of the war,” it adds.

The US has long announced that it would require a plan to protect civilians in Rafah before it supported Israel’s promised Rafah invasion. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters that the US has yet to see such a plan.

United States President Joe Biden has warned that there are “red lines” Israel should not cross in its war in the Gaza Strip while insisting he would never abandon Washington’s ally.

Israel has waged a retaliatory offensive on Gaza since a cross-border attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, which killed nearly 1,200 people. The offensive has killed around 31,300 Palestinians and injured over 73,000 others amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Palestinian enclave, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of most food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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