Latest News 30-05-2024 10:03 10 Views

Rafah offensive by Israel didn’t cross Biden’s ‘red line,’ White House says

White House officials told reporters that Israel’s airstrike on Rafah on Sunday that killed two senior Hamas terrorist leaders and dozens of civilians does not violate President Biden’s 'red line,' mainly because the strike did not represent a major ground operation.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby addressed reporters during a White House press briefing on Tuesday afternoon, during which time he was asked a barrage of questions about the attack on the southern Gazan city of Rafah, and when the U.S. will change its stance on Israel’s attacks.

Israel conducted an airstrike on a Hamas compound in Rafah on Sunday, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) confirmed.

One reporter asked Kirby about the attack, which struck an encampment in a densely populated area.

Kirby told the reporter the whole area of Rafah is densely populated and that a million people had evacuated the area.

The reporter asked how the strike did not violate a 'red line' laid out by the president.

'We don’t want to see a major ground operation,' Kirby said. 'We haven’t seen that at this point.'

Kirby continued to say the White House does not want to see a single innocent life taken.

Reporters continued to press Kirby on the matter, asking if Biden had a personal limit that needed to be reached before stepping in or changing his stance.

'The president has been very clear and very direct about what our expectations are for Israeli operations in Rafah specifically, but in Gaza…we don’t support, we won’t support a major ground operation in Rafah,' Kirby said. 'And, we’ve been very consistent on that, and the president said that should that occur, then it might make him have to make different decisions in terms of support. We haven’t seen that happen at this point.'

Kirby explained that a major ground operation involved tens of thousands of troops or thousands of troops moving in a coordinated set of maneuvers against a wide variety of targets on the ground, 'in a massive way.'

U.S. officials have not seen Israeli troops move in that way, according to Kirby.

He called the events on Sunday a 'very tragic' airstrike, and it was not the first in recent days or weeks.

'Nobody was asking me about red lines a week or so ago when there were other airstrikes in Rafah that didn’t cause civilian casualties,' Kirby said. 'This is an airstrike. It’s not a major ground operation. It’s different. Now, again, we’re not taking anything at face value, either. We’re not on the ground.'

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., was asked on MSNBC’s 'Morning Joe' on Wednesday whether Israel had crossed the U.S. 'red line' for future weapons support following the strike in Rafah.

Fetterman, who has irked the left with his staunch support of Israel, said the images from the region were 'heartbreaking,' but they represent a hard truth about the conflict.

Fetterman called Israel a key ally and said he would absolutely trust and work with someone like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Hamas leaders and other key players in the region.

'It's a very difficult situation in Gaza. But I do believe that Hamas [cannot] be allowed to operate if there's going to be any enduring peace in this situation,' Fetterman said.

Fox News’ Nikolas Lanum, Bradford Betz and Trey Yingst contributed to this report.


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