Israel informed the US about a plan to evacuate civilians before a possible operation in Rafah

Israel informed the US about a plan to evacuate civilians before a possible operation in Rafah
Israel informed the US about a plan to evacuate civilians before a possible operation in Rafah

Benjamin Netanyahu POLITICS Europe Press/Contact/Prime Minister’s Spokesperso

Israel informed the president’s government this week Joe Biden over a plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians ahead of a possible operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah aimed at rooting out Hamas militants, according to US officials familiar with the talks.

The officials, who were not authorized to comment publicly and requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive exchange, said: The plan detailed by the Israelis did not change Washington’s view that moving forward with an operation in Rafah represents a risk to the Palestinian civilian population.

The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to carry out a military operation in Rafah despite Biden’s warnings and other Western officials that doing so will lead to more civilian deaths and worsen an already dire humanitarian crisis.

The Biden administration has signaled there could be consequences for Israel if it goes ahead with the operation without a credible plan to safeguard civilians.

“Without such a plan, we cannot support a major military operation in Rafah because the damage it will cause is beyond acceptable.”said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday night at the Sedona Forum, an event in Arizona hosted by the McCain Institute.

About 1.5 million Palestinians have taken refuge in the southern Gaza city as the territory has been devastated by the war that began on October 7 after Hamas militants attacked Israel, killing about 1,200 people. and taking around 250 hostages.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken (left) meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, May 1, 2024. (Haim Zach/GPO)

The United Nations humanitarian aid agency stressed Friday that hundreds of thousands of people will be “at imminent risk of death” if Israel goes ahead with the attack on Rafah. The border town is a critical entry point for humanitarian aid and is overcrowded with displaced Palestinians, many of them in densely packed tent camps.

The officials added that the evacuation plan reported by the Israelis was not finalized and both sides agreed to continue discussing the matter.

The press secretary of the White House, Karine Jean-Pierre, told reporters on Friday that the Israelis have not revealed to Washington any “comprehensive” plan for a possible operation in Rafah. However, the operation has been discussed during recent calls between Biden and Netanyahu, as well as during recent virtual conversations with senior Israeli and American national security officials.

“We want to make sure that those conversations continue because it is important to protect those Palestinian lives, those innocent lives,” Jean-Pierre said.

The revelation of Israel’s continued pressure to carry out an operation in Rafah came as CIA Director William Burns arrived Friday in Egypt, where negotiators are trying to seal a ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas.

Hamas is considering the latest ceasefire and hostage release proposal put forward by American, Egyptian and Qatari mediators, who seek to prevent the operation in Rafah.

They have publicly pressured Hamas to accept the terms of the deal that will lead to a prolonged ceasefire and an exchange of Israeli hostages taken captive on October 7 and Palestinian inmates in Israeli prisons.

Hamas has said it will send a delegation to Cairo in the coming days to further discuss the offer, although it has not specified when.

(With information from AP)

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