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Biden admin gives Israel outline for ‘acceptable’ Rafah operation, opposes large-scale campaign

US estimates that Israeli Rafah offensive not imminent

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with United States President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023 (Photo: Miriam Alster/Flash90).

Washington gave Israel outlines on the kind of Rafah operation it would find acceptable, as the U.S. Biden administration continues to oppose a large-scale ground operation by the IDF, Politico reported on Wednesday.

U.S. officials told their Israeli counterparts that the Biden administration would support counterterrorism-style raids in and underneath the city the IDF calls "the last major stronghold" of Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Localized raids to go after high-value Hamas targets would minimize civilian casualties, U.S. officials told Politico, which has been its main goal in the past months.

The reports of rising civilian casualty count in Gaza have hampered Biden’s re-election efforts, allegedly costing him support among the Democrat party’s progressive wing.

After first publicly supporting Israel in its war against the Hamas terror organization in Gaza, tensions between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have been rising, culminating in public exchanges of blows between the two top leaders this week.

Biden repeatedly conditioned U.S. support for a Rafah operation on Israel presenting “credible” plans to prevent civilian harm, which, as two Israeli officials told Politico, are still being developed.

Rafah is the last major town in the enclave that hasn’t been conquered by the IDF and is home to four intact battalions of Hamas forces. In addition, it houses an estimated 1 million civilians, many of them refugees who fled the fighting to the southern town.

“To win this war, we must destroy the remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah,” Netanyahu reiterated on Tuesday.

“If not, Hamas will regroup, rearm, and reconquer Gaza and then we're back to square one. And that's an intolerable threat that we cannot accept.”

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant hinted on Wednesday that Israel Defense Forces may soon begin the long-awaited ground offensive into Rafah.

Despite this, a Defense Department official told Politico that the U.S. doesn’t believe the IDF would start its offensive into Rafah soon.

“They’d have to do some repositioning of forces, and that has not happened,” the official said. “It’s not imminent.”

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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