Israeli officials agree to consider US concerns about Rafah offensive

Smoke rises following an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 27, 2024. REUTERS/Ahmed… Purchase Licensing Rights
Published April 2, 2024

WASHINGTON, April 1 (Reuters) – Israeli officials agreed on Monday to take U.S. concerns about a planned offensive in Rafah into account, said a joint statement issued after a virtual meeting with U.S. officials on alternative ways to root out Hamas militants in southern Gaza.

The 2-1/2 hour meeting led by top U.S. and Israeli officials concluded with a plan for follow-up talks in person as early as next week, the statement said.

There was no immediate sign that the U.S. and Israeli negotiators reached any agreement on the path forward in Rafah.

President Joe Biden has urged Israel not to conduct a large-scale offensive in Rafah to avoid more Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza, where Palestinian health authorities say more than 32,000 people have been killed in Israel’s assault.

U.S. officials, concerned about a deepening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, have urged Israel to take a more targeted approach to attacking Hamas militants without launching a major ground offensive.



RELATED: US has not yet seen operational plans from Israel on Rafah strategy

Palestinians check the rubble of buildings that were destroyed following overnight Israeli bombardment in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on March 27, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
Published April 1, 2024

Washington CNN  —  The Biden administration has yet to see operational plans from the Israeli government detailing what a major military operation into Rafah would look like, including how Israel would try to protect the more than one million civilians in the Gazan city, a US official told CNN on the heels of a virtual meeting between senior American and Israeli officials Monday.

Senior US officials have been steadfast in their public warnings in recent weeks that Israel must not expand its military operations into southern Gaza without an executable plan to move out of harms’ way the many civilians who are currently sheltering in Rafah.

The fact that the US has yet to be presented with a detailed blueprint on how Israel would do precisely that makes clear that if Israeli forces were to move forward with a ground incursion into Rafah at this time, Israel would be crossing the so-called “red line” that President Joe Biden has recently warned about.



RELATED: US approves bombs, jets for Israel amid threat of offensive in Gaza’s Rafah

White House authorises transfer of $2.5bn of warplanes and weapons to Israel, The Washington Post reports.

People recover a child’s body from a destroyed building following Israeli air strikes in Rafah, Gaza, on March 29, 2024 [Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images]
Published March 30, 2024

The United States has greenlighted the transfer of billions of dollars worth of bombs and fighter jets to Israel, The Washington Post reported, even as it publicly expresses concerns about the long-threatened Israeli invasion of Gaza’s Rafah and the rising civilian casualties in the enclave.

The new arms package includes more than 1,800 MK84 2,000-pound bombs and 500 MK82 500-pound bombs, according to Pentagon and Department of State officials, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

The 2,000-pound bombs, which can inflict damage to people up to 1,000 feet (300 metres) away, have been “linked to previous mass-casualty events throughout Israel’s military campaign in Gaza”, the report said. The US gives $3.8bn in annual military assistance to its longtime ally.

Reporting from Washington, DC, Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett said the transfer “amounts to about $2.5bn”, adding that “this is taking place despite a growing rift between both the Israeli and US governments”.

The US continues to provide weapons packages to Israel while pushing for an end to hostilities in the five-month war and on Monday did not veto a United Nations Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and the release of captives.




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