Biden warns Israel against military operation in Gaza border town

U.S. President Joe Biden has warned Israel not to conduct a military operation in the Gaza border town of Rafah without a plan to protect civilians.


Biden urges Israel to protect civilians in possible Gaza operation

U.S. President Joe Biden has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that any military operation in the Gaza border town of Rafah must have a credible plan to protect civilians. This statement represents the strongest language yet from Biden on the potential operation. Last week, Biden described Israel's military response in Gaza as 'over the top' and is now calling for urgent steps to strengthen humanitarian aid.

The conversation between Biden and Netanyahu lasted 45 minutes, with the discussion focusing on the potential for a cease-fire agreement. A senior U.S. administration official stated that a framework for a deal is now in place, which could include the release of hostages held by Hamas in exchange for a halt to the fighting. Although there are still some gaps to be addressed, military pressure on Hamas in recent weeks has brought them closer to accepting a deal.

Threats and warnings from Egypt and other countries

Two Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat have revealed that Egypt threatened to suspend its peace treaty with Israel if troops were sent into Rafah. Egypt is concerned that the fighting in Rafah could push Palestinians into the Sinai Peninsula and result in the closure of Gaza's main aid supply route. Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and other countries have also warned of severe repercussions if Israel proceeds with a ground invasion in Rafah.

There are significant concerns about the potential humanitarian catastrophe this offensive could create. Rafah is already severely overcrowded, with over half of Gaza's population having fled there to escape fighting in other areas. Aid groups have warned that an offensive in Rafah would worsen the already dire humanitarian situation and cut off a crucial avenue for delivering food and medical supplies.

Escalating tensions and mounting casualties

The threat of a ground operation in Rafah has led to escalating tensions between Israel and Egypt, both of which are close allies of the United States. Aid groups are particularly concerned that the offensive will worsen the catastrophic humanitarian situation in Gaza. Around 80% of Gaza's residents have already fled their homes, and a quarter of the population is facing starvation, according to the UN. The death toll in Gaza has reached 28,176 since the start of the war, with the majority of those killed being women and children.

It's worth noting that Hamas has demanded the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and an end to Israel's offensive before releasing any more hostages. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has rejected these demands and stated that Israel will fight until 'total victory' and the return of all hostages.