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White House Says Israel Still Has Provided No Plan to Protect Rafah Civilians

White House Says Israel Still Has Provided No Plan to Protect Rafah Civilians


President Biden’s nationwide safety adviser stated on Monday that whereas the United States was dedicated to Israel’s protection, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s authorities had nonetheless failed to offer the White House with a plan for transferring practically one million Gazans safely out of Rafah earlier than any invasion of town.

In a prolonged presentation to reporters, the adviser, Jake Sullivan, additionally stated Israel had but to “join their army operations” to a political plan for the longer term governance of the Palestinian territory.

Mr. Sullivan, who has been on the heart of the administration’s response to the Oct. 7 terrorist assault on Israel and its aftermath, described intimately the administration’s aims in intervening to attain a cease-fire and a return of hostages, together with Americans, nonetheless within the arms of Hamas. But beneath repeated expressions of help for Israel, he made clear Mr. Biden’s frustration in dealings with Mr. Netanyahu, after a sequence of heated conversations between the 2 males.

Mr. Sullivan insisted that the one weapons Mr. Biden was withholding from the Israelis had been 2,000-pound bombs, for worry that the U.S. munitions, which might stage complete metropolis blocks, can be employed by Israel in its effort to rout Hamas leaders from their tunnel community, deep underneath town.

The United States, he famous, was nonetheless sending defensive weapons, and a spread of offensive arms that didn’t run the danger of main civilian casualties.

“We nonetheless imagine it could be a mistake to launch a serious army operation into the center of Rafah that will put big numbers of civilians in danger and not using a clear strategic achieve,” Mr. Sullivan stated. “The president was clear that he wouldn’t provide sure offensive weapons for such an operation, had been it to happen.”

But he insisted it “has not but occurred,” regardless of heightened bombing across the metropolis, and stated the United States was “nonetheless working with Israel on a greater manner to make sure the defeat of Hamas in all places in Gaza, together with in Rafah.”

Nonetheless, House Republicans are planning to push by means of a invoice that will rebuke Mr. Biden for pausing the shipments of the two,000 pound bombs. It can be a symbolic transfer — there isn’t a manner the invoice would cross the Democratic-controlled Senate — however seemed to be a part of an effort to show the arms holdup into an election-year difficulty; many Democrats had been urging Mr. Biden to droop or restrict arms gross sales to Israel.

The vote is designed to separate Democrats on a difficulty that has been cleaving the party and function one other manner for Republicans to current themselves because the true pals of Israel.

Representative Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas and chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, known as Mr. Biden’s arms holdup a “disastrous coverage choice” that was additionally “intentionally hidden from Congress and the American folks.”

As just lately as eight days in the past, the State Department was nonetheless arguing that the weapons holdup was a technical matter. But after phrase leaked out, Mr. Biden himself acknowledged, in an interview on CNN, that he had made the choice.

When Mr. Sullivan stated the United States was nonetheless working with Israel on a solution to take care of terrorists in Rafah, he seemed to be referring to a sequence of tense interactions with the Israelis about options to a full-scale invasion. Those largely heart on focused counterterrorism operations, just like how Israel handled looking down the perpetrators of the Munich Olympics terror assault in 1972.

Mr. Sullivan refused to debate current studies saying United States intelligence officers suspected that Yahya Sinwar, Hamas’s most senior official in Gaza, was not in Rafah. But he acknowledged that if Mr. Sinwar had moved his base of operations elsewhere, the assault on the southern metropolis made even much less sense.

He was most blistering about Israel’s incapacity, seven months after the preliminary terrorist assault, to develop a plan for a way Gaza can be administered after the conflict was over, or how you can hyperlink their army assaults on Gaza to political aims.

“We’re speaking to Israel about how you can join their army operations to a transparent strategic finish sport, a couple of holistic, built-in technique to make sure the lasting defeat of Hamas and a greater different future for Gaza and for the Palestinian folks,” he stated.

The failure of Israel’s present strategy, he stated, was made evident by the truth that areas within the North that had been beforehand bombed have seen a return of Hamas, which dominated over Gaza, if usually corruptly, for a few years. He steered the administration feared the identical would occur in Rafah and elsewhere until the army motion was linked to a reputable plan for Palestinian governance.

Annie Karni contributed reporting.

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