The U.S. on Monday said Israeli airstrikes in Rafah are not the launch of a full-scale offensive, and it would not support a military operation in the area where some 1.5 million Palestinians are packed against the Egyptian border with nowhere to flee.
"It is not our assessment that this airstrike is the launch of a full-scale offensive happening in Rafah," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.
"Without such a plan that is credible, and that they can execute, we do not support a full-scale military operation," Miller stressed, apparently referring to Sunday's phone call in which President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu he should not launch a military operation in Rafah without a "credible" plan to protect civilians, according to the White House.
Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah as Israel has pounded the rest of the enclave since Oct. 7. The ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed more than 28,000 people, mostly women and children, and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities.
The Israeli war on Gaza forced the internal displacement of 85% of the territory's population amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.
In an interim ruling in January, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel's government to desist from genocidal acts and to take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.