White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Thursday that an Israeli attack on Hamas in Rafah, the last city in Gaza before the Egyptian border, would be a “disaster” under current conditions, and that “we would not support it.”
Rafah is the final stronghold of the Hamas terrorist organization, and is key to its control of the Gaza Strip because it allows Hamas to smuggle weapons underneath the border. It could also allow Hamas leaders to escape to Iran or elsewhere, with the hostages.
Israeli leaders have been saying for days that they are preparing to do so.
On Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said — in both in Hebrew and English: “Our soldiers are now in Khan Yunis, Hamas’s main stronghold. They’ll soon go into Rafah, Hamas’s last bastion. They will do so, as they have done up to now, by providing the civilian population safe passage to safe zones, and they’ll do so in spite of Hamas’ evil attempts to stop the civilians from leaving at gunpoint.”
Nonetheless, Kirby told reporters at a White House briefing that the U.S. had no indication that Israel was preparing such an operation.
He said that an Israeli attack in Rafah would jeopardize the roughly one million Palestinian civilians who have fled the northern and central parts of the Gaza Strip. (Egypt does not let them leave, nor will any other Arab country offer them temporary refuge. The U.S. has not used its financial and military leverage with Egypt to convince the Egyptian government to change its mind.)
Kirby would not rule out a possible attack that did not jeopardize civilians, but reiterated that there seemed to be none in sight.
Israel considers removing Hamas from Rafah to be one of the most important steps toward winning, and ending, the war. White House opposition to an offensive in Rafah would therefore seem to indicate a preference that Israel lose and Hamas survive.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent book, “The Zionist Conspiracy (and how to join it),” now available on Audible. He is also the author of the e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.