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Biden urges Israeli team meeting to prevent full assault on Rafah

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US President Joe Biden revealed on Monday that he had urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to dispatch a delegation to Washington for discussions aimed at averting a large-scale attack in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. This move signifies a significant effort by Biden to restrain the actions of the US ally, with concerns over the escalating death toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza if a full-scale assault on Rafah were to occur.

During their first conversation in over a month, Biden emphasized the importance of targeting Hamas without launching a major ground operation in Rafah. He also stressed the immediate need for a ceasefire to facilitate the release of hostages and enhance aid delivery to civilians in Gaza. Approximately 1.5 million individuals are seeking refuge in Rafah, many of whom have been displaced due to Israel’s sustained attacks on other parts of Gaza following Hamas’s actions on October 7.

The White House disclosed that Biden cautioned Netanyahu against a potential offensive in Rafah, citing the risks of increased civilian casualties, exacerbation of the humanitarian crisis, deepening chaos in Gaza, and heightened international isolation for Israel. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan highlighted the potential negative consequences of a major ground operation in Rafah during a briefing with reporters.

In response to Biden’s concerns, Netanyahu agreed to send a delegation of senior Israeli officials to Washington to explore alternative strategies for targeting key Hamas elements. Additionally, Sullivan confirmed that Israel had conducted an operation resulting in the death of Hamas’s third-in-command, Marwan Issa, in the previous week. This development underscores the delicate diplomatic efforts underway to prevent further escalation and mitigate the humanitarian impact in the region.

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