Biden Set to Push Israel for Alternatives to Rafah Operation

Credits: USA Today

According to a report from Axios on Tuesday, the White House is preparing alternative proposals to dissuade Israel from launching a full-scale military operation in Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza, during an upcoming visit by an Israeli delegation to Washington early next week.

Sources from both the U.S. and Israel revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was surprised by President Joe Biden’s suggestion for the visit.

There were concerns that if negotiations over a hostage deal failed, Israel might proceed with an invasion of Rafah, potentially straining the U.S.-Israeli relationship.

Rafah Operation (Credits: JNS)

During a recent phone call, Biden informed Netanyahu that he could not endorse a major military offensive in Rafah. Instead, the U.S. administration prefers a limited operation targeting high-value Hamas assets and securing the Gaza-Egypt border.

Netanyahu emphasized at a meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee that Israel is committed to eliminating Hamas battalions in Rafah, which are believed to contain around 3,000 gunmen.

He reiterated the necessity of defeating all Hamas battalions to prevent the organization from regrouping and posing a threat to Israel in the future.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have already formulated operational plans for Rafah, with preparations underway for the evacuation of civilians from the area.

In response to Biden’s proposal, Netanyahu agreed to send a delegation to Washington to hear the administration’s ideas, particularly regarding the humanitarian aspects of the situation.

Joe Biden (Credits: India TV News)

Among the suggestions being discussed by the Biden administration are initiatives to address the humanitarian crisis in north Gaza, including the construction of shelters for evacuated civilians to minimize casualties during a military operation.

There is talk of joint efforts with Israel and Egypt to fortify the Egyptian side of the Gaza border, aiming to dismantle tunnels and prevent arms smuggling.

The Israeli delegation traveling to Washington will include Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi, and an IDF official responsible for humanitarian efforts in Gaza.

IDF officials planning the Rafah military operation will not be part of the delegation, as requested by the Biden administration.