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US worries grow over Netanyahu's expected Rafah invasion

The White House is continuing to sound the alarm bells over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to invade the Gaza city of Rafah — where more than 1 million civilians are estimated to be seeking refuge at Israel’s direction.

The expected Israeli invasion into Rafah has been anticipated for weeks after Netanyahu ordered evacuations out of the southern city earlier this month. Netanyahu’s plan appears to be at odds with the Biden administration, which has repeatedly urged Israel to not move forward with the operation in Gaza.

Netanyahu said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he will review the plans for the military’s expected invasion later Sunday, adding that going into Rafah “has to be done.” He said once Israel begins the operation in Rafah, “total victory” against the militant group Hamas will be “weeks away.”

Netanyahu also claimed that Israel is in agreement with the United States on its operation into Gaza despite mounting concerns from the White House.

“We’re on the same page with the U.S. on this, because that’s how we do it. The reason you have that population in Rafah is because we actually cleared them away from the other places, the zones, combat zones that we had, that’s why they’re there. So now there’s room for them to go north of Rafah, to the places that we’ve already finished fighting in,” Netanyahu said.

But the U.S. sounded a different tune Sunday when it revealed a lack of information sharing from its top ally in the Middle East. National security adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the president hasn’t seen any plans for a military operation in Rafah or any plan to evacuate Palestinians who have been pushed into the area.

“He has not,” he told anchor Kristen Welker when asked if President Biden has seen Israel’s plans for Rafah. “And beyond that, Kristen, we have been very clear about our view here. We’re talking about more than a million people who have been pushed into this small space in Gaza because of military operations elsewhere.”

“It’s also the area where all of the humanitarian assistance comes into Gaza to serve all of Gaza. And so we’ve been clear that we do not believe that an operation — a major military operation — should proceed in Rafah, unless there is a clear and executable plan to protect those civilians, to get them to safety and to feed, clothe and house them,” he continued.

“And we have not seen a plan like that,” he added.

Rafah is home to the largest refugee camp for Palestinians fleeing the war. It is estimated that more than 1.4 million people are staying in Rafah amid the ongoing conflict.

Sullivan also said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” that he has not seen Netanyahu’s plans for a postwar Gaza, but conceded he may have some concerns about the future of Gaza. Netanyahu unveiled the plans last week, which outlined a scenario in which Israel will retain indefinite security control across a demilitarized Gaza, The Associated Press reported.

“I haven’t had any Israeli officials send that plan to me so I’m not going to speak to that plan. Our position is very clear about what we expect with respect to the future of Gaza and our overall vision for the future of the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians,” Sullivan said on CNN.

“We have laid out in detail both publicly and privately where we are in that, and I look forward to hearing more directly from the Israeli government what their intentions are. And from what I’ve seen in the reporting, I have some concerns,” he added.

Source: The Hill

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