US State Department: ‘We don’t want to see Palestinians evacuated from Rafah unless they’re going home’

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

A makeshift tent camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 4, 2024. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
A makeshift tent camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 4, 2024. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller says, “We don’t want to see Palestinians evacuated from Rafah unless it is to return to their homes.”

The Biden administration has repeatedly expressed its opposition to a mass IDF invasion of Rafah, though this language from the State Department appears new.

“We don’t think there’s any effective way to evacuate 1.4 million Palestinians. There’s no way to conduct an operation in Rafah that would not lead to inordinate civilian harm and severely hamper the delivery of humanitarian assistance,” Miller says.

At other times, US officials have indicated that they’d be prepared to accept an IDF offensive in Rafah if Israel did manage to safely evacuate the civilians there and care for their humanitarian needs. In his latest comments, Miller rejects the notion of any possibility that the US could support a major Rafah invasion.

“We do want to see people able to leave Rafah to return to their homes — if they exist — and to their neighborhoods and to begin rebuilding their homes. We want to see the Palestinian people in Gaza start to restart their lives and rebuild their lives and ultimately bring this conflict to a close,” he says.

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