U.S. reiterates Warning Against Rafah Offensive in Israel-Gaza

US officials have once more expressed their concerns to Israeli counterparts regarding Israel’s proposed military operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

The White House acknowledged that representatives of Israel’s prime minister had agreed “to consider these concerns”.

The US has consistently advised Israel against initiating a large-scale operation in Rafah in order to minimise civilian casualties in Gaza.

In a separate development, the US has exercised its veto power to reject a UN resolution that aimed to confer full member status to a State of Palestine.

US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin recently had a conversation with Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant to address concerns about regional threats and Iran’s actions in the Middle East.

They also talked about the significance of maintaining and enhancing the delivery of humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza, including through the recently established route from Ashdod Port in Israel.

The Israeli military has conducted a series of strikes on multiple targets in Gaza, following extensive bombing in the central part of the strip and Gaza City in the north.

Qatar, known for its significant role in mediating truce talks, recently announced that ceasefire negotiations have come to a halt.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated his intention to launch an offensive in Rafah, where a large number of Palestinians have sought refuge. This offensive is seen as the next phase in the ongoing military operations against Hamas.

The US, Israel’s closest ally, has been urging Israel to adopt a more focused strategy in Rafah rather than pursuing a large-scale offensive.

A conflict in Gaza began when armed militants, led by Hamas, launched a major attack on southern Israel on 7 October. The attack resulted in the loss of approximately 1,200 lives, predominantly civilians, and the capture of 253 individuals who were taken to Gaza as hostages.

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Over 33,970 lives have been lost in Gaza, with a significant number being women and children. These tragic casualties occurred during a military campaign aimed at dismantling Hamas and securing the release of hostages.

The White House released a statement summarising the discussions held on Thursday, which highlighted the importance of addressing the situation in Rafah. Additionally, the statement mentioned the recent drone and missile strike on Israel by Iran, emphasising its significance.

“Both parties reached a mutual understanding to work towards the goal of ensuring Hamas’s defeat in Rafah.” The statement mentioned that US participants had expressed concerns about different courses of action in Rafah.

They stated that they had agreed to schedule further discussions among experts and would reconvene in the near future.

As per a report from Axios, US officials have strongly refuted claims that the Biden administration authorised an operation in Rafah as a condition for Israel to retaliate against Iran following the recent attack on its territory.

Israel has yet to provide a comment regarding the meeting that took place on Thursday, which comes after previous discussions held on 1 April.

According to reports, US officials expressed concerns to the Israelis about the adequacy of their plans for evacuating and protecting Palestinian civilians in Rafah who had been displaced from their homes.

The US vetoed the resolution to grant full UN member status to a State of Palestine at a meeting of the Security Council.

The Palestinian Authority has been granted observer status since 2012, however, they are unable to participate in voting during proceedings.

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Twelve members supported the resolution, including France, Japan, and South Korea. However, the US was the only member to vote against it, with two abstentions from the UK and Switzerland.

The US had been determined to avoid taking unilateral action, and there were reports of intense behind-the-scenes lobbying in an effort to gain support from other Security Council members.

Clarifying his country’s veto, the US deputy ambassador, Robert Wood, emphasised that Washington remains firmly committed to a two-state solution. However, he stressed that any alteration in the status of a State of Palestine at the UN should only occur through a mutually agreed settlement with Israel.

The Palestinian envoy to the UN, Riyad Mansour, emphasised the inherent right of his people to self-determination.

“The people of Palestine will endure,” he emphasised. “We will continue to be present.” The people of Palestine will not be forgotten. They have a long-standing presence in history. They represent a significant part of our past that cannot be erased, regardless of the immense power or tyranny that may try to do so.

Israel’s envoy to the UN, Gilad Erdan, expressed gratitude to the US for their support in upholding truth and morality amidst a backdrop of hypocrisy and politics. Erdan also criticised other nations for choosing to reward Palestinian terror with the creation of a Palestinian state.

Russia’s envoy, Vassily Nebenzya, criticised the US for their stance on the Palestinians, stating that they have revealed their true attitude. According to him, they do not deserve to have their own state,” he added. “They are merely a hindrance to the fulfilment of Israel’s objectives.”

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According to Barbara Woodward, the UK’s envoy, the recognition of Palestinian statehood should not be the initial step in a new process. However, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the final step either. We need to address the urgent situation in Gaza as a priority.

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