Joe Biden yesterday called on Israel to “not proceed” with military action in southern Gaza without planning the evacuation of Palestinian civilians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces growing international warnings over his army’s planned offensive in Rafah amid his war with Hamas.
According to the White House, Biden told Netanyahu last night that the Israel Defense Forces “should not proceed without a credible and executable plan to ensure safety and support for the more than one million people sheltering there.”
But Netanyahu has dismissed concerns about civilian casualties in Rafah, declaring: “Victory is within reach.”
He insisted there would be no turning back despite the outcry over the huge death toll and the loss of two more hostages.
Joe Biden yesterday called on Israel to ‘not proceed’ with military action in southern Gaza without planning the evacuation of Palestinian civilians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces growing international warnings about his army’s planned offensive in Rafah amid his war with Hamas.
Netanyahu also admitted there were “disagreements” with Biden, but defended the US president, whose memory has been called into question, saying he had found him “clear and focused”.
Rafah, on Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, is the last remaining Hamas stronghold after four months of fighting since the Oct. 7 massacre in Israel, in which 1,200 people were killed and at least 250 kidnapped.
But international unrest has been growing over the well-being of civilians in the region, which provides shelter to around 1.5 million Palestinians who have been displaced by the conflict.
In addition to the risk posed by military confrontation, there are desperate shortages of food and medical care for non-combatants.
British Foreign Secretary Lord Cameron revealed his concern over the next phase of Israel’s military operation in is taking refuge in the area.
“The priority must be an immediate pause in the fighting to bring in aid and remove the hostages, and then move towards a sustainable and permanent ceasefire.”
Cabinet Secretary Michael Gove echoed the Foreign Secretary’s warning on the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg’s Sunday programme, saying that while it was “absolutely right to address the terrorist threat”, the Palestinian people “need and deserves” help and support.
Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy tweeted on Friday that an Israeli offensive on Rafah would be “catastrophic”.
The latest figures from the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry have put the total Palestinian death toll at more than 28,000.
At least 44 people, including more than a dozen children, were reported killed by Israeli airstrikes in Rafah on Saturday.
Palestinians inspect damaged apartment buildings after Israeli strikes in Rafah, Gaza, on February 11.
At least 44 people, including more than a dozen children, were killed in Israeli airstrikes in Rafah on Saturday.
The latest figures from the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza put the total Palestinian death toll at more than 28,000.
Hamas’s armed wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, said the same day that two Israeli hostages had been killed and eight others seriously wounded by airstrikes in the past 96 hours.
Netanyahu insisted yesterday that efforts had been made to minimize civilian casualties in Gaza, including dropping leaflets and calling Palestinian citizens to evacuate combat zones, since the Israel Defense Forces launched its retaliatory raid.
But he repeated that this was being hampered by the use of civilians as human shields.
Speaking on ABC News’ This Week With George Stephanopoulos, the Israeli leader, who has been rejecting Hamas’ latest ceasefire proposals, said: “I think we are doing the right thing.” And let me tell you something else: we are going to win this. Victory is within our reach.’
Asked about requests from the hostages’ families for negotiations to be transferred to a party “committed to saving their lives,” he added that 110 were freed “because we applied military pressure, not because we stopped applying it.”
He also endorsed President Biden, whom a special prosecutor last week described as an “old man with a bad memory” who couldn’t remember when his son died.
Netanyahu said that during a dozen long phone conversations and President Biden’s recent wartime visit to Israel, he had “found him very clear and very focused.”
The Israeli leader added: “Sometimes we had disagreements, but they were not due to a lack of understanding on their part.”
Hamas freed more than 100 Israeli and foreign hostages in exchange for Israel releasing about 240 Palestinian prisoners during a week-long truce in November.
Israel’s top military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said last week that 31 of the remaining hostages were dead. Some 136 remain detained in Gaza.