Gaza’s Rafah Operation Would Be ‘Mistake’: US Prez Biden Expresses ‘Deep’ Concern To Netanyahu

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Monday stated that US President Joe Biden spoke to Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu over the phone and expressed his deep concern about the prospect of Israel conducting a major military operation in Rafah along the lines of Gaza City and Khan Younis. The White House further stated that although Hamas should not be allowed a safe haven anywhere but a ground operation there would be a mistake, leading to more innocent civilian deaths that would worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis. 

Sullivan stated during a press conference that Netanyahu agreed to send an inter-agency team of Israeli officials to Washington to discuss an alternative approach to target key Hamas elements in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and securing the Egypt-Gaza border without a major ground invasion, news agency PTI reported.

This came in after Biden asked Netanyahu to send a senior inter-agency team comprising intelligence, military, and humanitarian officials to Washington to hear the US’s concerns about Israel’s plan for Rafah.

Biden spoke to Netanyahu for the first time in a month and discussed Rafah at length. He explained the reason behind his concern regarding the prospect of Israel conducting major military operations in Rafah, similar to those conducted in Khan Younis and Gaza City.

During the call, Biden also stated that the US wishes to lay out an alternative approach that would only target key Hamas elements in Rafah, securing the Egypt-Gaza border without a major ground invasion.

“More than a million people have taken refuge in Rafah. They went from Gaza City to Khan Younis and then to Rafah. They have nowhere else to go. Gaza’s other major cities have largely been destroyed,” PTI quoted Sullivan saying.

“And Israel has not presented the US or the world with a plan on how or where it would safely move those civilians, let alone feed and house them and ensure access to basic things like sanitation,” he added.

Sullivan further stated that Rafah is the primary entry point for providing humanitarian assistance to Gaza from Egypt and a military operation would shut it down as it is on the border with Egypt.

The US National Security Advisor also stated that Egypt has expressed serious concern about a major military operation there, raising several questions pertaining to its future relationship with Israel, PTI reported. Sullivan further stated that although Hamas should not be allowed a safe haven anywhere but a ground operation there would be a mistake, leading to more innocent civilian deaths that would worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis. 

“Now, the President has rejected, and did again today, the strawman that raising questions about Rafah is the same as raising questions about defeating Hamas. That’s just nonsense. Our position is that Hamas should not be allowed a haven in Rafah or anywhere else.

But a major ground operation there would be a mistake. It would lead to more innocent civilian deaths, worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis, deepen the anarchy in Gaza, and further isolate Israel internationally,” PTI quoted Sullivan saying.

He also added that the outcomes Israel wants to achieve in Rafah can be achieved by other means.