Washington reaffirms its opposition to an Israeli offensive in Rafah

(Washington) Joe Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday against a ground offensive in Rafah, at a time when Israel is preparing a major offensive in this city in the south of the Gaza Strip.




At the same time, the United States, which is pushing for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, said it was “examining” the response of the Palestinian Islamist movement which claims to have accepted a truce proposal in Gaza , with CIA Director Bill Burns negotiating in person in the region on the matter.

“I can confirm that Hamas has issued a response. We are reviewing this response and discussing it with our partners in the region,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters, declining to qualify it.

The American president “reiterated his clear position” to Benjamin Netanyahu regarding Rafah during a telephone call Monday morning, the White House said.

Both the State Department and the White House have subsequently increased their warnings to Israel, which nonetheless maintained its call on Monday evening for residents of the eastern neighborhoods of Rafah to evacuate the area, as a prelude to a “land operation”.

The Israeli army carried out intense bombings there on Monday evening, reports an AFP correspondent.

Offensive in Rafah

“We have not seen a credible and implementable humanitarian plan,” however, declared the State Department spokesperson.

“We believe that a military operation in Rafah at this very moment would significantly increase the suffering of the Palestinian people (and) lead to an increase in the loss of life among the civilian population,” he added, repeating that the United States United were “against”.

PHOTO RAMADAN ABED, REUTERS

Palestinians flee the town of Rafah on May 6

Mr. Biden previously told the Israeli prime minister in April that an invasion of Rafah would be a “mistake,” and Washington has made clear that it does not support an offensive without a credible plan to protect civilians sheltering there .

Rafah, on the southern edge of the Gaza Strip, has been transformed into a gigantic refugee camp housing, according to the UN, 1.2 million Palestinians, or half of the territory’s population, most of them displaced people.

Despite international condemnations, the Israeli Prime Minister promised to launch this offensive, which he believes is essential to destroy the last battalions of the Islamist movement in the Palestinian territory.

During the telephone call, Mr. Netanyahu also “agreed to ensure that the Kerem Shalom crossing point is open to humanitarian aid for those who need it,” said the White House. .

Israel closed this key crossing point on the border with Gaza after rocket attacks on Sunday by Hamas.

Visit of the Jordanian king

The telephone interview took place shortly before the American president received King Abdullah II of Jordan, a key ally, at the White House on Monday.

The private meeting took place behind closed doors.

Jordan maintains diplomatic relations with Israel and has a large Palestinian population.

The head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken recently visited the kingdom, at the time when a first Jordanian humanitarian aid convoy left for the Gaza Strip, via the Kerem Shalom crossing which had just been opened by Israel.

The question of the reaction of the United States, the main arms supplier to Israel, remains unanswered if Mr. Netanyahu continues this offensive in Rafah.

The American president warned that he would, if necessary, be required to “modify” his policy towards Israel, but without specifying how.

He issued this warning after the Israeli strike on 1er April, having targeted a convoy of the American NGO World Central Kitchen in Gaza, killing seven humanitarian workers.

Joe Biden, in the midst of his campaign for his re-election to the White House, is criticized for his unconditional support for Israel.

Nearly 90 U.S. Democratic lawmakers urged him to consider cutting off arms sales to Israel if the Israeli government does not change the way it conducts the war against Hamas.


reference: www.lapresse.ca

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