U.S. Secretary of State: No Support for Israeli Military Action in Rafah Without Civilians’ Protection Plan

Jimmy Williams

The U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, made it clear on Sunday that the U.S. won’t back Israel’s military action in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, unless there’s a solid plan to protect civilians.

In an interview on “Face the Nation,” Blinken stated, “From day one, President Biden has been determined to support Israel in defending itself and trying to make sure that Oct. 7 never happens again.” He emphasized the need for Israel to safeguard civilians and ensure humanitarian aid reaches those in need.

Blinken’s remarks come as Israel gears up for an expanded military operation in Rafah, despite facing criticism from the international community. President Biden recently disclosed that the U.S. had halted a bomb shipment to Israel, citing concerns about civilian casualties. Blinken clarified that only high-payload bombs were withheld due to their potential impact on densely populated areas.

While Biden’s decision drew criticism from some quarters, Blinken defended the president, asserting, “No president has done more to defend Israel when it really mattered than Joe Biden.” However, he also stressed the administration’s longstanding concerns about a major military offensive in Rafah.

“We’ve been clear about is that if Israel launches this major military operation into Rafah, then there are certain systems that we’re not going to be supporting and supplying for that operation,” Blinken reiterated.

Blinken also highlighted the importance of planning for post-conflict scenarios in Gaza, expressing concerns about Hamas regaining control in areas cleared by Israel. He cautioned that initial successes in Rafah may not be sustainable.

Regarding a report delivered to Congress on Israeli military operations in Gaza, Blinken noted that while there are allegations of violations of international humanitarian law, definitive conclusions are yet to be drawn due to incomplete information about the use of U.S. weapons.

“We think it’s reasonable to assess based on what’s happened that there have been acts that have been inconsistent with Israel’s obligations under international law, but we haven’t drawn definitive conclusions,” Blinken explained.

The report has sparked criticism from both Republicans and Democrats. Senator Tom Cotton criticized it as “mealy-mouthed politics,” while Senator Chris Van Hollen acknowledged the assessment but criticized it for avoiding challenging questions.

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