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US reportedly satisfied with IDF's Rafah plans following Sullivan trip to Israel, evacuation of civilians

'We don't greenlight IDF operations' official says

The Israeli army drops leaflets from military aircraft on the east of the city of Rafah and orders them to evacuate, May 6, 2024. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

U.S. President Joe Biden and his administration are reportedly satisfied with changes Israel has made to its operational strategy in Rafah, according to statements by a senior American official. 

“It’s fair to say, I think the Israelis have updated their plans. They’ve incorporated many of the concerns that we have expressed,” the official told a group of reporters on condition of anonymity.

“This is an ongoing discussion, ongoing conversation. It’s been constructive,” the official added, noting talks between U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Israeli officials earlier this week.

During those meetings, the White House said that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and IDF Chief Herzi Halevi had briefed Sullivan on “new alternative approaches to defeating Hamas in Rafah to address the concerns that have been expressed by the U.S. side.” 

While Biden has repeatedly expressed his concerns about an Israeli operation in Rafah, going as far as threatening to withhold weapons, Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Gallant, have insisted that an IDF operation in Rafah is necessary to achieve Israel's war objectives. 

“What matters is what actually happens,” the official said. “We don’t greenlight Israeli operations. It’s not our role.”

Washington has cited the large civilian refugee population in Rafah as a reason to discourage Israel from a Rafah incursion, however, with most civilians having evacuated to the expanded humanitarian zone in al-Mawasi and other parts of the southern Gaza Strip, those concerns do not appear to be as pressing. 

Earlier this month, following the collapse of the hostage negotiations because of alleged duplicitous behavior by Egypt, and rocket attacks on Israel's Kerem Shalom border crossing, Israel sent in military troops to secure the border crossing between Gaza and Egypt. 

Since then, the IDF has conducted relatively small-scale, precise operations targeting Hamas infrastructure and degrading the terror group’s ability to fight back. 

Israel has continued to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, while also improving the situation in humanitarian zones, including building additional field hospitals and purchasing large multi-person tents for use by evacuees. 

Despite the IDF's change in strategy, Israeli military analysts suggested on Tuesday that the Israeli military is close to gaining control of Rafah

In an interview with Israel's Radio 103FM, military analyst Avi Ashkenazi said, “Actually, quietly, under the radar of the world, the IDF is advancing at a fairly rapid pace to take over Rafah.”

“The IDF controls over 60% of the Philadelphi Route,” he added, referring to the road running along the Egyptian border on the Gaza side.

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

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