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Israel’s Operation in Rafah Doesn’t Cross US Red Lines – White House  

The US does not believe Israel has initiated a full-scale invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza, White House spokesman John Kirby stated. This comes after Israeli forces reached the city center and reportedly captured a strategically significant hill near the Egypt border.

Earlier this month, US President Joe Biden warned that he would restrict weapon supplies to Israel if it entered Rafah’s “population centers,” where hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to be sheltering. Despite the recent military actions, Kirby confirmed that Israel has not crossed these red lines set by Biden.

In response to a deadly Israeli strike that killed at least 45 Palestinians, including many women, children, and elderly, at a displacement camp on Sunday, Kirby described the images as “heartbreaking” and “horrific.” He emphasized that no innocent lives should be lost in the conflict and mentioned that the US State Department is closely monitoring the situation and expects a thorough investigation from the Israeli military.

Kirby reiterated that the US does not support a major ground operation in Rafah, aligning with Biden’s stance. He clarified that Israel’s current actions do not constitute a large-scale invasion, as no large units or coordinated maneuvers have been observed in the area.

Israeli forces began targeted ground operations in Rafah on May 6, gradually advancing into eastern and central areas while moving north along the border with Egypt. Biden previously stated he would suspend weapon supplies if Israel invaded Rafah’s population centers, a measure he has not yet implemented as Israel’s actions remain within the agreed boundaries.

The escalating civilian death toll and worsening humanitarian conditions in Rafah have prompted growing calls within the US for increased pressure on the Israeli government to minimize the conflict’s humanitarian impact. Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen has urged the Biden administration to pause offensive military assistance to Israel until compliance with humanitarian requests is ensured.

Despite these concerns, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue operations in Rafah, describing the recent strike as a “tragic mishap.” This strike has drawn condemnation from regional governments, including Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, who have accused Israel of war crimes and violations of international law.

The UN reports that around a million people have fled Rafah, with hundreds of thousands still believed to be sheltering there. Witnesses described heavy bombardments and Israeli tanks positioned at key locations within the city. The Israeli military denied hitting another tent camp in al-Mawasi, despite local officials reporting fatalities.

Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, initiated in response to Hamas’s cross-border attack on October 7, has resulted in significant casualties. The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza reports over 36,000 deaths since the conflict began.

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