update deskIsrael at War

US says it made its view on Rafah op clear to Israel

"We continue to believe that a hostage deal is in the best interest of the Israeli and the Palestinian people," said a State Department spokesperson.

IDF troops at a staging area near the Israel-Gaza border, April 30, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.
IDF troops at a staging area near the Israel-Gaza border, April 30, 2024. Photo by Chaim Goldberg/Flash90.

The United States has made its views on a major ground invasion of Rafah clear to Israel, a State Department spokesperson told Reuters on Tuesday.

It was the first response from the Biden administration since Israel began a targeted operation on Monday night in the eastern part of the last Hamas bastion in southernmost Gaza, which included taking control of the border crossing with Egypt and capturing the Salah a-Din road.

“We continue to believe that a hostage deal is in the best interest of the Israeli and the Palestinian people; it would bring an immediate ceasefire and allow increased humanitarian assistance into Gaza,” the spokesperson said in an e-mail.

A source familiar with the Israeli plans told CNN that the operation in Rafah would be “very limited” in scope, and is intended to pressure Hamas to agree to a hostage-release deal. The source said that the operation is not the full-scale ground offensive that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared will take place and that U.S. President Joe Biden opposes.

An Israeli government spokesperson told Reuters on Tuesday that the objective remains to destroy Hamas, saying that the terrorist group can end the conflict by laying down its arms and returning all of the hostages. The Israeli government spokesperson also confirmed that a team would be departing for Cairo shortly.

According to a report earlier in the day from Reuters, citing a senior Israeli official, Jerusalem was only sending a team of mid-ranking officials to Egypt to attempt to see if Hamas can be persuaded to change its position on the latest offer, which Jerusalem cannot accept.

“This delegation is made up of mid-level envoys. Were there a credible deal in the offing, the principals would be heading the delegation,” the official told Reuters.

The Israeli government spokesperson also said that humanitarian-aid deliveries into Gaza were continuing.

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