Israel’s plan for Rafah evacuations isn’t viable, US officials said to warn in ‘harsh’ video call

File: From left to right: Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Council chairman Tzachi Hanegbi at the State Department in Washington on March 7, 2023. (Antony Blinken/Twitter)
File: From left to right: Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Council chairman Tzachi Hanegbi at the State Department in Washington on March 7, 2023. (Antony Blinken/Twitter)

Channel 12 reports what it says are quotes from yesterday’s video call between US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and Israel’s National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

It says the US representatives showed deep concern about the threat of famine in Gaza, and were highly critical of the IDF’s plans for Rafah, saying its evacuation proposal for the million-plus noncombatants in the city is not impressive and not implementable.

The TV report says the call was extremely “harsh” in that the US and Israel are on “completely different pages” when it comes to Israel’s planned operation in Rafah, where four Hamas battalions are deployed.

The call lasted two hours, and was also attended by Israel’s Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog, Pentagon representatives and unnamed others.

In Hebrew translations of what was originally said in English, Channel 12 reports the following remarks:

Sullivan: “You’re going to be responsible for the third famine crisis of the 21st century. That is not something we can accept as partners. The [Rafah] evacuation plan you’ve presented thus far is not impressive and is not implementable.”

Blinken: “According to the pace of your operations, it will take you four months to evacuate Rafah.”

Dermer and Hanegbi were characterized as retorting that Hamas cannot be dismantled without going into Rafah, calling it an essential condition for achieving the war’s aims.

Sullivan: “If you don’t have a proper plan for the day after, nothing will help you to advance the dismantling of Hamas. Not [operating in] Rafah, and not anything else.”

Essentially, Channel 12 sums up, the US representatives on the call made clear that if Israel wants any kind of American green light for an operation in Rafah, it needs to provide a viable “day after” plan for Gaza and a credible evacuation plan for Rafah.

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