Blinken Urges Netanyahu Against Ground Assault On Rafah

Blinken Urges Netanyahu Against Ground Assault On Rafah

March 23, 2024, 7:36 a.m.

Blinken says Rafah offensive risks ‘further isolating Israel, jeopardizing its security’. However, Israeli PM says he told US envoy that IDF will go into southern Gaza city with or without US support

Officials in Washington have felt a growing frustration with Israel's conduct in Gaza. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli leaders that America does not support a ground offensive on the city of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians are sheltering. He flatly said it would be a "mistake".

Blinken met for talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Friday. He urged an "immediate" and "sustained" ceasefire. However, Netanyahu disagreed with Blinken's idea that an invasion of Rafah is "unnecessary."

After the meeting, Netanyahu released a video statement. He said, "We have no way to defeat Hamas without entering Rafah and eliminating the rest of the battalions there. And I told him that, I hope we will do it with the support of the United States, but if we have to, we will do it alone."

Rafah is packed with displaced civilians -- nearly 1.5 million. Blinken said an offensive would put many of them in danger. He added, "It risks wreaking greater havoc with the provision of humanitarian assistance. It risks further isolating Israel around the world and jeopardizing its long-term security and standing."

US diplomats at the United Nations are echoing those concerns. They sponsored a resolution on Friday with their strongest language yet, calling a ceasefire "imperative."

However, delegates from Russia and China vetoed the measure. Russian ambassador Vassily Nebenzia described it as a "hypocritical spectacle." And Chinese envoy Zhang Jun said the wording is "ambiguous" and fails to call for an "unconditional ceasefire."

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