Still No ‘Operational Plans’ for Israel’s Invasion of Rafah – Report

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Roughly 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah, many of whom were displaced from other areas destroyed by Israel in its ongoing military assault on the besieged enclave.

A US official has reportedly said the Biden administration has yet to see operational plans from Israel detailing what a military operation into Rafah would look like, including how Israel would safeguard the more than one million displaced Palestinians seeking refuge in the southern Gaza town.

According to a CNN report, the news follows a virtual meeting held between senior American and Israeli officials on Monday, including US national security adviser Jake Sullivan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and other officials representing the White House, State Department and Department of Defense.

The Israeli delegation included national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and minister of strategic affairs Ron Dermer, said the report.

In recent weeks, senior US officials have “been steadfast in their public warnings” that Israel must not invade Rafah, the report stated, “without an executable plan to move out of harm’s way the many civilians who are currently sheltering in Rafah.”

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“US officials presented to their Israeli counterparts alternatives to a major ground operation into southern Gaza during Monday’s meeting,” the report said.

A US official told CNN, after the meeting of more than two-and-a-half hours, that the US administration had “no expectation” there would be a breakthrough.

However, US officials “pressed their Israeli counterparts to pursue a ‘better alternative’ to a major ground invasion into Rafah,” the report said.

The meeting was seen as “only the latest in a series of discussions that will continue in the coming weeks about a possible Israeli incursion” into Rafah, the report said.

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A joint statement described the meeting as “constructive”, said CNN.

While the meeting was ongoing, the report said White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters, “If they’re going to move forward with a military operation, we have to have this conversation. We have to understand how they’re going to move forward.”

‘Sovereign Country’

John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesperson said at a press briefing on March 22 “We’re not going to lay out terms. It’s a sovereign country. And they have their own military, and they have their own operations to conduct. They have to make those decisions.”

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains determined to press ahead with a Rafah invasion despite international condemnation including from the United Nations, the European Union as well as the International Criminal Court.

He reportedly told a group of US Congress members last week that he “had no choice” but to invade Rafah, adding that the country’s “very existence is on the line.”

Roughly 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah, many of whom were displaced from other areas destroyed by Israel in its ongoing military assault on the besieged enclave.

The secretary general of Doctors Without Borders (MSF), Christopher Lockyear, warned last month that “Clearly any ground invasion into Rafah would be an absolute catastrophe, it doesn’t bear thinking about, it would be disaster upon disaster.”

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Rising Death Toll

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 32,975 Palestinians have been killed, and 75,577 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in the enclave.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

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The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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