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Israel has not presented plan to protect civilians in case of Rafah operation: White House

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published February 28,2024

The US has not been presented with any Israeli plan to secure the safety of civilians in Gaza in case of a military operation in Rafah, the White House said Tuesday.

"We've not been presented one. I can't speak for the Israelis and to what degree their planning has progressed and what that looks like," said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby at a press briefing.

Israel is planning to expand its ground operation to Rafah, Gaza's southernmost city along the border with Egypt and home to 1.4 million Palestinians, amid international warnings about the consequences of such a move.

Kirby noted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he tasked his generals with coming up with a plan.

In a phone call with Netanyahu on Feb. 16, President Joe Biden said the Rafah operation should not proceed without a plan for the over 1 million Palestinian civilians seeking refuge there.

During their call, Biden "reiterated his view that a military operation should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the civilians in Rafah," said the White House in a statement.

Israel launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip following an Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas, killing nearly 30,000 people and causing mass destruction and shortages of necessities, while nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed.

The Israeli war has pushed 85% of Gaza's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Hostilities have continued unabated, however, and aid deliveries remain woefully insufficient to address the humanitarian catastrophe.