White House says Israel will listen to US questions over potential Rafah incursion

A house targeted in an Israeli airstrike in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, April 17, 2024. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
A house targeted in an Israeli airstrike in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, April 17, 2024. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Israel has agreed to listen to US concerns and thoughts before it launches an invasion of the border city of Rafah in Gaza, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby says.

Israel’s military is poised to evacuate Palestinian civilians from Rafah and assault Hamas hold-outs there, a senior Israeli defense official said on Wednesday, despite international warnings of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Washington has said it could not support a Rafah operation without an appropriate and credible humanitarian plan.

“They’ve assured us that they won’t go into Rafah until we’ve had a chance to really share our perspectives and our concerns with them,” Kirby tells ABC.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is due to visit the region next week and Kirby said he would continue pressing for a temporary ceasefire that Washington wants to last for at least six weeks.

A Hamas delegation will visit Cairo on Monday for talks aimed at securing a ceasefire, a Hamas official told Reuters.

“What we’re hoping is that after six weeks of a temporary ceasefire, we can maybe get something more enduring in place,” Kirby says, who also noted that the number of aid trucks going into the north of Gaza was starting to increase.

“The Israelis have started to meet the commitments that {US} President [Joe] Biden asked them to meet,” he says.

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