Israel advances deeper on Rafah; US says there’s no plan to protect civilians


May 13, 2024


Israel advances deeper on Rafah; US says there’s no plan to protect civilians

Men ride in the back of a truck loaded with furniture and other items as they flee bound for Khan Yunis, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip/Photo: AFP

TEL AVIV: Israeli forces advanced deeper on Gaza’s southern city of Rafah on Sunday even as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israel has not given the United States a credible plan to protect the more than one million Palestinian civilians sheltering there or a plan for what happens when the seven-month war eventually ends.

About 300,000 of the 1.3 million Palestinians who fled to southern Gaza months ago on orders from the Israeli military to escape the attacks on Hamas militants in northern Gaza have now been ordered to move again, this time to the northwest of Rafah, to a territory along Gaza’s Mediterranean Sea coastline.

But Blinken told NBC’s “Meet the Press” show on Sunday there is no specific Israeli plan to protect the Palestinians or provide sufficient humanitarian aid for them.

“There’s something else that’s important,” Blinken said. “We also haven’t seen a plan for what happens the day after this war in Gaza ends. Because right now, the trajectory that Israel is on is even if it goes in and takes heavy action in Rafah, there will still be thousands of armed Hamas left.”

The top U.S. diplomat said, “We’ve seen in areas that Israel has cleared in the north, even in Khan Younis, Hamas coming back.”

“So, the trajectory right now is that [Israel] going into Rafah, even to deal with these remaining [four] battalions, especially in the absence of a plan for civilians, risks doing terrible harm to civilians and not solving the problem, a problem that both of us want to solve, which is making sure Hamas cannot again, govern Gaza,” Blinken said.