Israel Ignores US Objections, Carries Out Assault On Rafah

US President Joe Biden has thrown down the gauntlet, warning Israel that any large-scale military operation in Gaza’s crowded Rafah city will result in a halt to American weapons supplies. The warning comes as the city reels from recent strikes, which sent smoke rising into the air.

In a striking escalation of American concerns, the United States has issued a clear and uncompromising warning to Israel, its main military supporter, over the dire civilian consequences of its war with Hamas, marking a new level of urgency in US calls for restraint.

Rafah, a city bursting with 1.4 million displaced people, came under fire on Thursday, with eyewitnesses and an AFP correspondent reporting strikes in various areas, underscoring the devastating impact of the conflict.

“The tanks and jets are striking,” Tarek Bahlul said on a deserted Rafah street. “Every minute you hear a rocket and you don’t know where it will land.”

Israel has already defied international objections by sending in tanks and conducting what it called “targeted raids” in eastern Rafah, the city it says is home to Hamas’s last remaining battalions.

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Biden warned he would stop some US weapons supplies to Israel if it carried out its long-threatened major Rafah ground offensive.

Israel on Thursday called Biden’s comments “very disappointing”.

Biden told CNN: “If they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used… to deal with the cities.”

Read also: Hamas Accepts Gaza Truce Proposal, Israel Still Undecided

“We’re not gonna supply the weapons and the artillery shells that have been used.”

Asked about Israel’s action already in Rafah, Biden said “they haven’t gone in the population centres”.

After suspending the delivery of 3,500 bombs, including 1,800 2,000-pound and 1,700 500-pound munitions, to Israel last week, the US administration issued a forceful warning, as Israel prepared to launch an offensive in Rafah, a city bracing for impact.

“Civilians have been killed in Gaza as a consequence of those bombs,” Biden said. “It’s just wrong.”

The once-unshakeable bond between Israel and the US has begun to fray, as President Biden and top Washington officials publicly rebuke Israel’s handling of the war, marking a significant shift in the allies’ relationship.

A powerful wave of pro-Palestinian protests has swept across universities globally, with students and faculty members rallying in solidarity and demanding an end to Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, marking a level of intensity not seen in decades.

The October 7 attack by Hamas on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of over 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials, marked the beginning of the Gaza war, a conflict that has brought immense human suffering and destruction.

Africa Today News, New York 

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