02 Apr 2024, 09:35

Israel to take US concerns over Rafah offensive into account: W.House

WASHINGTON, April 2, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Israel will take "into account" US
concerns over its planned offensive in the crowded city of Rafah, where more
than a million civilians are sheltering from fighting in Gaza, the White
House said Monday.

Tensions have risen between Israel and its chief backer the United States
over the heavy civilian death toll in Gaza, and especially over Israeli plans
to send ground forces into the southern city.

But the two sides had a "constructive engagement on Rafah" during two hours
of videoconference talks, attended by Secretary of State Antony Blinken and
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, the White House said in a statement.

"The US side expressed its concerns with various courses of action in Rafah.
The Israeli side agreed to take these concerns into account and to have
follow up discussions," the statement added.

The Israeli side was chaired by National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi and
Minster for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer, according to the White House.

Follow-up discussions will include in-person meetings as early as next week,
the statement added.

The bloodiest ever Gaza war erupted with Hamas's unprecedented October 7
attack, which resulted in about 1,160 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians,
according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory campaign, aimed at destroying Hamas, has killed at least
32,845 people, mostly women and children, according to the Gaza health

Many civilians have fled to Rafah to escape the fighting.

Israel had agreed to send a delegation to Washington for discussions on its
Rafah plans, but canceled the trip after the United States last week declined
to veto a UN Security Council ceasefire call, abstaining instead, which
allowed it to pass.

Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh told journalists that the goal
of Monday's meeting had been the same as that of the canceled delegation

The aim had been to "understand what their plans are for any type of
operation within Rafah, to understand how they're going to move or conduct
operations with a very concentrated population that's there, over a million
people," Singh told journalists.


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