outside the White House during the National March on Washington for Palestine

Biden urged Israel’s Netanyahu to protect civilians in Rafah

In recent discussions between US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, concerns arose regarding Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip, particularly in Rafah. President Biden expressed apprehensions about the safety of nearly 1 million people seeking refuge in Rafah and emphasized the need for a comprehensive plan to ensure their protection.

These concerns come on the heels of President Biden’s earlier comments to reporters, where he described Israel’s military response in Gaza as “over the top.” This remark reflects growing worries and frustrations over the increasing civilian casualties in the Palestinian enclave.

While both leaders share the goal of defeating Hamas and ensuring Israel’s long-term security, President Biden stressed the importance of ensuring that humanitarian aid reaches the Palestinians trapped in Gaza. However, the potential assault on Rafah presents significant risks. In previous military operations, Israeli authorities advised civilians to evacuate before the attacks. But this time, finding a safe haven proves challenging, raising fears of catastrophic consequences.

President Biden reiterated his stance that any military operation in Rafah should only proceed if there is a credible and executable plan to guarantee the safety and support of the over one million people seeking shelter in the region.

The discussions between President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu also included efforts to secure the release of remaining hostages held by Hamas since their attack on Israel in October. President Biden emphasized the need to capitalize on the progress made in negotiations to secure the release of all hostages as soon as possible.

However, a senior Hamas leader warned that any Israeli ground offensive in Rafah could jeopardize the ongoing hostage-exchange negotiations. In response, Netanyahu’s office directed the military to develop a plan to evacuate Rafah and neutralize alleged Hamas battalions deployed in the area.

The recent conversation between President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu marked their first discussion since President Biden’s critical remarks about Israel’s military response to Hamas. President Biden, currently spending the weekend in Wilmington, Delaware, engaged with Netanyahu, emphasizing the importance of open communication between the two leaders.

Netanyahu, however, expressed uncertainty about the meaning behind President Biden’s “over the top” comment in an interview with “Fox News Sunday.” Meanwhile, questions remain unanswered regarding the number of Israeli hostages still alive in Gaza, with Netanyahu indicating ongoing efforts to secure their release.

Health authorities in Gaza, under Hamas control, estimate that more than 28,000 Palestinians, primarily civilians, have lost their lives since the conflict began in October. Alarming statistics reveal that around 70 percent of the casualties are women or children under 18. The World Health Organization has commended the Palestinian Health Ministry’s reporting system for casualties, highlighting its accuracy.

The conflict escalated when Hamas militants attacked Israel in October, resulting in casualties and the capture of hostages. This event continues to shape the ongoing conflict dynamics between Israel and Hamas.

In conclusion, the situation in Gaza remains precarious, with concerns over civilian safety and ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages. President Biden’s call for a comprehensive plan and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s commitment to ongoing negotiations underscore the importance of finding a balanced resolution to prevent further escalation and protect the lives of those caught in the conflict’s crossfire. As global leaders closely monitor developments, hopes remain for a peaceful resolution to the longstanding conflict in the region.

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