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Biden Warns Netanyahu Against Launching Rafah Operation Without Credible Plan

President Joe Biden is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport

Mary ManleyRafah, a city located in the southern Gaza Strip, is considered to be one of the last safe zones for Palestinians fleeing the war with well over half of Gaza’s population now living there in refuge. On Sunday, US President Joe Biden cautioned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against a military operation in the southern city of Rafah if that operation did not include the evacuation of Palestinian civilians in the area.“A military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering there,” the president reportedly told Netanyahu.A US official said that the majority of the 45-minute call between the two leaders was spent discussing a potential hostage deal between Hamas and Israel that would include a ceasefire. Previously, Netanyahu has shown little interest in a cease-fire in exchange for Israeli hostages.Sunday’s warning from Biden signals a growing impatience the White House feels towards the Israeli leader, as it is the first time that Biden has publicly cautioned Netanyahu. And earlier this week, the US president reportedly said the Israeli military operation in Gaza was “over the top” which has been the harshest form of criticism Biden has used since the conflict first began on October 7.According to Israel, Rafah is the last remaining Hamas stronghold in Gaza, and they have to infiltrate this city in order to achieve their goal.“It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war of eliminating Hamas by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah,” Netanyahu’s office said. “On the contrary, it is clear that intense activity in Rafah requires that civilians evacuate the areas of combat.”The prime minister has claimed that he would provide a “safe passage” for civilians who wish to evacuate Rafah. However, he has not said where those civilians would flee to.Hamas has warned Israel that an invasion of Rafah would “torpedo” hostage exchange negotiations. Israel says there are about 132 hostages who are still being held by Hamas, including 29 who are thought to be dead. On Sunday, Hamas said that two hostages were killed and eight others were seriously injured following Israeli bombardment.Egypt has also threatened to suspend its peace treaty with Israel if Israeli troops are sent into Rafah. The country is afraid that Palestinians may be pushed into the Sinai Peninsula which would then force Gaza’s main aid supply route to close. They also fear an influx of refugees who will not be allowed to return to Gaza.About 1.4 million Palestinians are now crowding the city in an attempt to escape the conflict’s hostilities. Many are living in tents and are struggling to find food, water, and medicine. Aid groups have stressed that an operation in Rafah will worsen the humanitarian breach there.Josep Borrell, the European Union foreign policy chief said that an offensive in Rafah would lead to “an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe and grave tensions with Egypt”.Israel first declared war on October 7 after several thousand Hamas militants killed 1,200 Israelis and took 250 others hostage. Thus far 28,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, a majority of whom have been women and children, as stated by Gaza Health Ministry. And on Saturday, Israel ‘s bombings in Rafah resulted in the deaths of at least 44 Palestinians. In this video grab, residential buildings destroyed by a rocket attack from Israel, as the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas continues, in Gaza, Palestine - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.02.2024WorldIsrael Strikes Rafah Killing Dozens After Netanyahu Hints of Ground OffensiveYesterday, 13:37 GMT

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