US officials express concerns over possible Israeli incursion in Rafah

US officials express concerns over possible Israeli incursion in Rafah

Shafaq News / Two senior officials in the Biden administration said that the Biden administration believes Israel has amassed enough forces on the outskirts of Rafah in Gaza to move forward with a broad incursion in the coming days, but senior officials are currently unsure whether Israel has made a final decision to carry out such a move in a direct challenge to Biden.

According to an official, "Israel has not yet come close to making adequate preparations, including building infrastructure related to providing food, sanitation, and shelter before the possible evacuation of more than a million residents of Gaza currently residing in Rafah."

If Israel conducts a major ground assault in Rafah, it will violate months of warnings from the United States against waging a large-scale strike on the densely populated city.

Last Monday, President Biden issued his most direct warning yet, telling CNN that "the United States would withhold some additional weapons shipments to Israel if it took such a step."

On Monday, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters at the White House, "The president has made it clear that if such an operation occurs, he will not provide specific offensive weapons."

On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphasized the importance of dismantling Hamas and neutralizing its military capabilities before discussing a cease-fire amid continued fighting.

Netanyahu affirmed a commitment to achieving a decisive victory, stating, "We will utilize all means at our disposal to secure the return of the kidnapped individuals," and stressed the importance of "neutralizing Hamas before discussing post-war scenarios."

In turn, Israeli Security Minister Yoav Gallant stated, "This conflict will persist until the captives are returned, and Hamas's military infrastructure is dismantled."

Amid ongoing clashes, Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas's military wing, reported intense confrontations with Israeli forces in various areas, including the eastern part of Jabalia camp in northern Gaza and George Street in the eastern part of Rafah city.

They also claimed to have targeted an Israeli military vehicle in Rafah.

Meanwhile, Israel sent troops and tanks back into Jabalia, in the north of the Strip, preparing for a new ground assault following a night of intense raids in the area, which resulted in killing about 20 and wounding dozens.

At the same time, the Israeli assault continues in Rafah, where more than 300,000 Palestinians have fled.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Gallant stated that the conflict in Gaza will persist until Israel retrieves the captives, dismantles Hamas' governance, and neutralizes its military capabilities.

Speaking at a ceremony on Mount Herzl, he added that the war would shape the lives of Israelis "for decades to come."

Since October 7, at least 35,000 people have been killed and 79,000 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

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