NewsUS warns Israel: Rafah offensive risks humanitarian crisis and security

US warns Israel: Rafah offensive risks humanitarian crisis and security

The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced an invasion of Rafah.
The Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, announced an invasion of Rafah.
Images source: © Getty Images | NurPhoto

8:03 PM EDT, April 9, 2024

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday evening that the Israeli Defense Forces plan to conduct an offensive in Rafah, with the date already determined. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller conveyed the USA's firm opposition to this operation.

"We have made clear to Israel that we think a full-scale military invasion of Rafah would have an enormously harmful effect on those civilians and that it would ultimately hurt Israel's security," said Miller.

Earlier, right-wing Israeli ministers warned that Netanyahu's tenure as Prime Minister would be at risk if he concluded the war without launching an attack on Rafah. Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir stated that the government would collapse if an offensive did not target Hamas's final stronghold in Rafah, at the southern tip of the Gaza Strip, as reported by "Haaretz" and "Jerusalem Post."
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Smotrich criticized the war cabinet for making decisions under international pressure, which he believed slowed the momentum of the war and threatened Israel's security.

Risk of Humanitarian Disaster

The USA has discouraged Israel for months from proceeding with a ground offensive in Rafah, suggesting instead a more limited military approach.

In March, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin warned Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant about undertaking such an operation, echoing concerns earlier voiced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Presidential Advisor Jake Sullivan.

Austin stressed that ensuring the safety of approximately 1.5 million civilians in Rafah, a primary refuge for the Gaza Strip's population before the war, remains a paramount concern for the USA.

The planned operation poses a risk of a humanitarian disaster, given that the city has become a haven for about a million Palestinians displaced from other areas of the Gaza Strip. Moreover, the region relies heavily on humanitarian aid, which predominately enters through the border crossing with Egypt.
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