Blinken reiterates US opposition to Rafah invasion in call with Israeli defense chief

14 May 2024 03:33am
Palestinian people evacuated from Rafah set up a tent at a beach in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, on May 10, 2024. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)
Palestinian people evacuated from Rafah set up a tent at a beach in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, on May 10, 2024. (Photo by Rizek Abdeljawad/Xinhua)
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WASHINGTON - US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant over the weekend, in which the secretary reiterated Washington's opposition to a major ground operation in Rafah.

According to State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller, Blinken "reaffirmed the US opposition to a major military ground operation in Rafah, where over one million people have taken shelter" during the Saturday call with Gallant.

"The Secretary underscored the urgent need to protect civilians and aid workers in Gaza and urged the Minister to ensure assistance can move into Gaza and help address distribution challenges inside of Gaza as Israel pursues Hamas targets," Miller said of the call in a statement.

Citing the Israeli Defense Ministry, CNN reported Monday that Gallant discussed with Blinken "developments in Gaza, including (Israel Defense Forces) operations across the Strip in the face of terror hotspots."

Gallant also spoke about what the ministry called "the precise operation in the Rafah area against remaining Hamas battalions, while securing the crossing," the report said.

The call came as US President Joe Biden's administration began to limit the flow of US weaponry to Israel in anticipation of a large-scale ground operation by Israeli forces in Rafah.

Earlier this month, Biden signed off on a pause of 3,500 bombs intended for Israel in the near term, for fear that they will be dropped in Rafah. Biden said should Israel go into Rafah and conduct operation targeting the population centers, his administration will not supply weapons for that cause.

In a high stakes State Department report that was published behind schedule on Friday, the Biden administration said that it is "reasonable to assess" that US weapons supplied to Israel may have been used in violation of international law. The report added a caveat that information that Washington possessed was incomplete, not enough for reaching a definitive conclusion. - XINHUA