Kirby: US won’t provide certain weapons for major Rafah offensive; ‘smashing into’ city won’t defeat Hamas

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

White House national security communications adviser John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Thursday, April 4, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
White House national security communications adviser John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House, Thursday, April 4, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

If Israel launches a major ground offensive in Rafah, the US “will not provide certain categories of weapons to support such an operation,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby says, honing in on the threat made by US President Joe Biden yesterday.

“He does not want certain categories of American weapons used in a particular type of operation in a particular place,” Kirby says.

The White House spokesperson says “smashing into Rafah” — as it fears Israel wants to do — “will not advance the objective” of “a sustainable, enduring defeat of Hamas,” which both Israel and the US share.

Accordingly, the US will continue working with Israel to develop alternative approaches to a major military offensive in Rafah, Kirby says.

These alternatives include bolstering the border between Egypt and Gaza so that it cannot be used for smuggling weapons to Hamas, he continues.

The operation that Israel launched earlier this week to take over the Palestinian side of the Rafah Crossing is the type of alternative that US officials have been proposing to their Israeli counterparts in recent months, Kirby says, while clarifying that Washington is still monitoring the operation to ensure that it remains limited to the crossing.

Another alternative to a major Rafah offensive would be more targeted operations against Hamas’s leadership, which the White House spokesperson claims that the US has been helping Israel conduct to date.

The US is also encouraging Israel to advance an “alternative governance structure to Hamas” so that the terror group does not remain in control of Gaza after the war, Kirby says.

Finally, the US is working with Israel to create “safe spaces with shelter, sanitation, food, water, medical facilities, medical supplies and medical personnel [where] the people who are currently in Rafah can go,” Kirby says.

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