The U.S. disapproves of an Israeli ground incursion into Rafah unless Israel ensures the well-being of over a million individuals currently squeezed into the city, as stated by a spokesperson of the State Department on Monday, further reinforcing the Biden administration’s rejections of the anticipated military move.
Meanwhile, officials of the UN and the International Criminal Court have taken a firmer stance against the anticipated Israeli intervention in Rafah, a city in the southern Gaza Strip, cautioning about disastrous outcomes.
However, the mounting international pressure on Israel to constrain its military operation seems to have had minimal impact so far; the Israeli government has repeatedly stated its intention to deploy ground forces into Rafah to overcome Hamas. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for the military to develop a plan to evacuate civilians from the congested city in order to minimize casualties, although international aid organizations have described the evacuation of such a large number of people as impractical.
“We do not endorse any military undertaking in Rafah until they can adequately address the 1.1 million people, according to some estimates, present in Rafah today, some of whom have already been displaced, some of whom multiple times,” Matthew Miller, spokesperson for the State Department, conveyed to reporters on Monday. “We believe there should be a credible plan that they can actually put into action before embarking on any military operation in Rafah.”
The White House has communicated a similar message multiple times in recent days. On Sunday, President Biden reaffirmed this stance to Mr. Netanyahu during a telephone conversation.
Stéphane Dujarric, the spokesperson for the Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres, stated on Monday that any foray into Rafah would imperil the distribution of vital aid to a territory where food, water, medicine, and shelter are critically scarce and where most people have fled their homes. Rafah is home to the sole border crossing between Gaza and Egypt, which serves as the primary entry point for aid.
The United Nations, as he indicated, would not play a role in Israel’s evacuation plans.