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Top US Diplomat Warns Israel Of Global Isolation If It Proceeds With Rafah Assault




U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a stern warning to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday, cautioning that Israel risked further global isolation if it proceeded with plans for a ground assault on the Palestinian city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip.


Blinken, who met one-on-one with Netanyahu during a peace mission to the Middle East, expressed concern over the strain in relations due to Israel’s assault in Hamas-ruled Gaza. “We share Israel’s goal of defending against Hamas…though, a major military ground operation in Rafah is not the way to do it,” Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv.


He further warned that such an operation risked killing more civilians, wreaking greater havoc with the provision of humanitarian assistance, and further isolating Israel on the global stage, thereby jeopardizing its long-term security and standing.


In response, Netanyahu stated that Israel would proceed alone if Washington remained opposed to its plans to push into Rafah against the territory’s southern border fence, where over a million Gazans have sought refuge in makeshift shelters.


The Israeli leader acknowledged U.S. support in its fight against Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, and recognized the need to protect civilians. However, he asserted that defeating Hamas without entering Rafah and eliminating the remaining battalions was impossible. He expressed hope for U.S. support but affirmed Israel’s readiness to proceed alone if necessary.


Israel maintains that Rafah is the last stronghold for Hamas militants and has plans to evacuate civilians before any attack. However, Washington contends that a ground assault would be a mistake and cause excessive harm to those displaced there.


Senior Israeli and U.S. officials are scheduled to meet in Washington next week to discuss alternative strategies for combating Hamas without resorting to a full-on assault in Rafah.

In the latest diplomatic duel at the U.N. Security Council, Russia and China vetoed a U.S.–proposed resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an Israel-Hamas hostage deal. The text reflected a toughening of Washington’s stance toward Israel, but Moscow and Beijing argued it would still not do enough to restrain Israel.


In Gaza, Israel claimed to have killed or captured hundreds of Hamas fighters in a five-day operation at the Al Shifa hospital complex, one of the few medical facilities still partially functioning in the north. Hamas and medical staff deny fighters were present there.

The strain in ties between the United States and Israel has become increasingly public, with U.S. President Joe Biden criticizing Israel’s campaign in Gaza as “over the top” and lamenting its heavy toll on civilian lives.


The war was triggered by a raid into southern Israel by Hamas fighters who, according to Israeli tallies, killed 1,200 people and took 253 hostages. Gaza health authorities report that more than 32,000 Palestinians have been killed in the subsequent Israeli assault, with many more feared dead under the rubble.


U.S. officials have called for a rapid increase in aid deliveries via land and sustained aid over a long period. Israel, which inspects all shipments to Gaza and has sealed off the fence on the north of the enclave, denies restricting food and other essential supplies.

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