Israel Gaza: US again warns against Rafah offensive


  • By Alex Therrien and John Sudworth, New York
  • bbc news

illustrate, A Palestinian girl was at the scene of an Israeli attack on a house in Rafah this week

U.S. officials have once again expressed concerns to their Israeli counterparts about Israel’s planned military operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

The White House said the Israeli prime minister’s representatives had agreed to “take these concerns into consideration.”

The United States has repeatedly urged Israel not to launch a large-scale offensive against Rafah to avoid causing more civilian casualties in Gaza.

Separately, the United States vetoed a United Nations resolution that would have given the Palestinian state full membership status.

In another development, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant “to discuss regional threats and Iran’s destabilizing actions in the Middle East.”

They also discussed “the importance of increasing and sustaining humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza, including a new route through the Israeli port of Ashdod”.

The Israeli military said it struck dozens of targets in Gaza, a day after Israel launched a massive bombing campaign in the central Gaza Strip and Gaza City in the north.

Qatar, which plays an important mediating role in ceasefire negotiations, said earlier that ceasefire negotiations have reached an impasse.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been vowing to launch an offensive against Rafah – where more than a million Palestinians have taken refuge – as the next step in a military campaign against Hamas.

As Israel’s closest ally, the United States has been urging Israel not to launch a large-scale attack on Rafah but to take more targeted actions.

The Gaza war broke out on October 7 when Hamas-led gunmen launched an unprecedented attack on southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking another 253 people back to Gaza as hostages.

Since then, at least 33,970 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in Gaza in an Israeli military operation to destroy Hamas and free hostages, according to the region’s Hamas health ministry.

The White House briefing on Thursday’s meeting said Rafah and Iran’s unprecedented drone and missile attacks on Israel last week were at the center of discussions.

“Both sides agreed on the common goal of seeing Hamas defeated in Rafah. U.S. participants expressed concerns about various courses of action in Rafah,” the statement read.

They have agreed to follow-up discussions between experts and will meet again soon, the statement said.

Israel had no immediate comment on Thursday’s meeting, which followed similar talks on April 1.

At the time, U.S. officials reportedly told the Israelis that their plans for Rafah were insufficient to evacuate and protect Palestinian civilians who had taken refuge there after being forced to flee their homes.

The United States vetoed a resolution at the Security Council that would have given the State of Palestine full UN membership status.

The Palestinian Authority has had observer status since 2012 but cannot vote in the proceedings.

Twelve member states, including France, Japan and South Korea, voted in favor of the resolution, while the United States was the only member to vote against and the United Kingdom and Switzerland abstained.

This is a unilateral action that the United States has been hoping to avoid as much as possible, and there are reports that there was intense behind-the-scenes lobbying before the vote in the hope of winning the support of some other Security Council members.

Explaining the U.S. veto, US Deputy Ambassador Robert Wood insisted that Washington continued to strongly support a two-state solution but that any changes to the Palestinian state’s status at the United Nations could only occur as part of a negotiated settlement with Israel.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the United Nations, said the Palestinian people have a “natural right” to self-determination.

“The Palestinian people will not disappear,” he added. “We will not disappear. The Palestinian people will not be buried. They are a historical fact. They are a history that no power, no tyranny, can erase.”

Israel’s envoy to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, thanked the United States for “standing up for truth and morality in the face of hypocrisy and politics” and accused other countries that supported the resolution of deciding to “reward Palestinian terror with a Palestinian state.”

Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzia said the United States “showed their true attitude toward the Palestinians.” To Washington, they don’t deserve their own country,” he added. “They are just obstacles to the realization of Israel’s interests.

British envoy Barbara Woodward said: “We believe that recognition of Palestinian statehood should not happen at the beginning of a new process, but it does not have to happen at the end of the process. We have to start by solving the problem.” Gaza is imminent crisis.


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