HeadlinesInternational Politics

Israel’s Actions in Rafah Not A Full-Scale Invasion, Says US 

The White House spokesman John Kirby has said that the United States does not perceive Israel’s actions in Rafah, southern Gaza, as constituting a full-scale invasion. 

Kirby’s remarks followed reports of Israeli forces penetrating the city center and securing a strategically significant hill overlooking the nearby Egyptian border.

President Joe Biden had previously stated his intention to limit arms supplies to Israel should it infringe upon the “population centers” of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of civilians remain sheltered. 

Kirby, addressing concerns about an Israeli strike that claimed the lives of at least 45 Palestinians, emphasized the need to avoid civilian casualties in the conflict.

The US State Department is closely monitoring the situation, particularly regarding the Israeli military’s conduct and the investigation into the strike. When pressed about potential violations of President Biden’s directives, Kirby emphasised that no policy changes had been made but reiterated the administration’s stance against a major ground operation in Rafah.

Israeli officials maintain that capturing Rafah is essential to achieving victory in their seven-month conflict with Hamas in Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) initiated targeted ground operations against Hamas in Rafah’s eastern areas in early May, gradually advancing into central regions and along the border with Egypt.

President Biden’s warnings to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu underscored the delicate balance between supporting Israel’s security concerns and addressing humanitarian consequences in Gaza. Calls from within the US, including from Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen, advocate for greater pressure on Israel to minimise civilian casualties and respect President Biden’s directives.

Despite international outcry and protests from regional governments, including Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, Israel remains resolute in its military campaign. 

The United Nations reports that around a million people have fled the fighting in Rafah, with hundreds of thousands more potentially still sheltering in the city.

Witnesses describe ongoing bombardments and military operations in Rafah, prompting fears and concerns among the civilian population. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) warns of escalating tensions and the impact on humanitarian operations in the area.

As tensions escalate and the conflict persists, the international community remains vigilant, advocating for a resolution that prioritizes both security and humanitarian concerns in the region.

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