USA Urges Israel to Avoid Ground Offensive in Rafah Amid Rising Tensions

Amid escalating conflict in Gaza, the United States is ramping up efforts to dissuade Israel from launching a ground offensive in the densely populated city of Rafah.

USA warns Israel against Rafah offensive

The United States is increasing pressure on Israel to refrain from a ground offensive in Rafah. They believe there is a better strategy. The United States confirmed that the number three leader of the Hamas terrorist organization in Israel has been killed.

The US is working to dissuade Israel from launching a planned ground offensive on the overcrowded city of Rafah in the Gaza conflict. President Joe Biden urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to send a team of military, intelligence, and humanitarian aid specialists to Washington in the coming days during a phone call, as stated by Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. There are alternative ways to combat the Islamist Hamas without an invasion of Rafah.

Netanyahu agreed to send the delegation during a phone call with Biden on Monday, according to Sullivan – their first conversation in over four weeks.

At the same time, Sullivan acknowledged Israel’s successes. He stated that the Israeli army has killed the number three leader of Hamas in Gaza, Marwan Issa, following days of speculation. Israel had previously claimed to have located Issa, but initially did not confirm his death.

New negotiations for ceasefire and hostages

Meanwhile, new negotiations have commenced in Qatar for a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict and the release of additional hostages. The Israeli media reported that the head of the Israeli foreign intelligence agency Mossad, David Barnea, met with mediators in the Emirate. These talks are expected to last at least two weeks.

The Hamas recently presented a new proposal to the mediators from Qatar, Egypt, and the US. In this proposal, Hamas no longer insists on Israel ending the war before the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

According to the proposal, the militant Islamist organization would only consider a pause in Israeli hostilities as a condition for a second phase of hostage releases. However, Israel remains pessimistic, labeling the Hamas demands as unrealistic.

US: Ground offensive in Rafah by Israel would be a mistake

The US government has long criticized Israeli plans for a ground offensive in Rafah. National Security Adviser Sullivan stated, “We believe that Hamas should not have a safe haven in Rafah or anywhere else, but a major ground operation there would be a mistake.” A meeting with the Israeli delegation in Washington is targeted for the end of this week or early next week.

Over a million people have sought refuge in Rafah, and Israel has not presented a plan to the US or the world on how to ensure the safety and supplies for these refugees. Sullivan stated that Israel is not expected to proceed with a large military operation in Rafah until discussions have taken place. Biden urged Netanyahu to refrain from the operation in Rafah during their phone call. US officials will present an alternative approach where key Hamas elements in Rafah will be targeted and the border between Egypt and Gaza secured without a large-scale ground invasion.

EU to impose sanctions on Israeli settlers in the West Bank for the first time

Meanwhile, the EU is planning to impose sanctions on radical Israeli settlers in the West Bank for the first time. Foreign Ministers of the member states agreed on these plans during a meeting in Brussels, as announced by EU Foreign Affairs Chief Josep Borrell. The sanctions are in response to violent actions by extremist settlers against Palestinians, particularly following the Hamas massacre in Israel on October 7. These attacks, along with settlement construction, are viewed as obstacles to long-term peace efforts in the Middle East conflict.