The White House National Security Spokesperson, John Kirby, has recently made a public statement in which he made it clear that the United States government does not support the proposed expansion of the Israeli Army’s military operations into the town of Rafah, located in the southern part of the Gaza Strip. Mr. Kirby underscored the potentially devastating impact such an expansion could have on the Palestinian population living in this area, which is characterized by significant displacement due to continuous bombing and forced evacuations.
During a press conference, Mr. Kirby highlighted the scale of the situation, stating, “Over one million Palestinians have sought refuge in and around the town of Rafah. They have been directed to this location and, as a result, the number of displaced individuals is significant. The Israeli Army, as it carries out its operations, bears a unique responsibility to ensure that the safety and wellbeing of innocent civilians are prioritized, especially those who have been forced to move south due to military operations further north.”
Mr. Kirby reiterated the potential catastrophe that could ensue if the protection of civilians in Gaza was not adequately considered. He stated, “If the Israeli Army does not fully consider the protection of civilians in Gaza, any continuation of military operations at this time could result in a disaster for those people.” He concluded his statement by emphasizing, “This is not something we support.”
The Israeli government has announced its intention to expand its fight against Hamas into the Rafah area. This area, situated in the southern part of the country, has a high population density. The Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, indicated last week (and reaffirmed earlier this week) that the Israeli military would extend its operations into areas where they have not yet engaged in combat, specifically in the center and the south of the enclave. He singled out Rafah, stating it was the “last remaining Hamas stronghold”.
Up to this point, the ongoing conflict has resulted in more than 27,800 deaths and 67,317 injuries in the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, 383 Palestinians have lost their lives in operations conducted by the Israeli security forces, as well as in attacks carried out by settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This follows Hamas attacks which resulted in 1,200 deaths and 240 abductions on Israeli territory.