Safety plans for civilians in Israel’s planned Rafah op. not shared with the US, Blinken claims

President Biden has been clear he cannot support a major military operation in Rafah, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday morning, a day after US and Israeli officials met again to discuss Israel’s battle plans for the southern Gazan city. 

It’s imperative that people are able to get out of the way of any conflict and be supported with humanitarian assistance, Blinken said, and doing that in Rafah is a monumental task for which the US has yet to see a plan. 

“Even if people are largely out of harm’s way, inevitably there’s going to remain a pretty significant civilian population in Rafah,” Blinken said. “And we believe that a major military operation with a large presence in the civilian population would have terrible consequences for that population.”

Ensuring Hamas has no future in the Gaza Strip

Blinken reiterated the US is as committed as Israel is to ensuring that Gaza cannot be controlled by Hamas due to the devastation and destruction caused by the organization and its leadership well before October 7. 

Security personnel guard trucks carrying aid as they arrive in Rafah, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in the southern Gaza Strip January 17, 2024. (credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM/FILE PHOTO)

Blinked added Hamas made clear its concern had nothing to do with the Palestinian people and everything to do with its objectives to destroy Israel. 

“Making sure that Hamas cannot repeat the events of October 7, that’s something that we are united,” Blinken said. “But in terms of major military operations in Rafah, it’s something that we don’t support and we believe that the objective can be achieved by other means.”

Blinken said he urges the rapid implementation of Israel’s humanitarian assistance commitments, more aid crossings and better deconfliction and better distribution of the assistance to all who need it. 

“We’ve seen important steps over the last couple of weeks with more crossings opening, more aid getting in and more aid getting around,” Blinken said. “But we need to see sustained results.”

The world needs to understand the only thing standing between the Gazan people and a ceasefire is Hamas, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Friday morning from the G7 summit in Capri, Italy. 

Hamas continues to move goal post for ceasefire deal, Blinken says

Hamas rejected generous proposals from Israel and seems more interested in a regional conflict than a ceasefire that would immediately improve the lives of the Palestinian people, Blinken said. 

Hamas continues to “move the goal post,” Blinken added. 

Blinken said the US is in constant engagement with Israel, allies and partners throughout the region and world, calling it a collective effort to bring the conflict in Gaza to a close and to achieve a ceasefire in the release of hostages. 

“A number of other countries around the table today also have hostages in Gaza held by Hamas and other groups,” Blinken said. “And it’s also important to remember, because I sometimes think that people have forgotten this, we have American hostages who’ve been held in the most deplorable conditions all of this time.”