Written by 13:41 World

U.S. Officials Say Deadly Rafah Airstrike Did Not Cross Biden’s Red Line

U.S. officials said on Tuesday that the Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in southern Gaza was a tragedy but that it did not violate President Biden’s red line for withholding weapons shipments to Israel.

The bloodshed came after Mr. Biden warned earlier this month that the United States would block certain arms transfers if Israel targeted heavily populated areas in Rafah — a warning that has been tested regularly as the war has ground on.

John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said the deaths were “devastating” but that the scale of the attack was not enough to change U.S. policy. “We don’t want to see a major ground operation,” Mr. Kirby told reporters. “We haven’t seen that.”

Israeli tanks were on the outskirts of the city “to try to put pressure on Hamas,” Mr. Kirby said. He also offered a measure of specificity about Mr. Biden’s warning to Israel, which critics have said was too vague.

“We have not seen them go in with large units and large numbers of troops in columns and formations in some sort of coordinated maneuver against multiple targets on the ground,” Mr. Kirby said. “Everything that we can see tells us that they are not moving in in a major ground operation in population centers in the city of Rafah.”

Mr. Biden has faced pressure from advocates and members of his own party to use his power to curtail arms to Israel as a way to influence its conduct in the war. The United States is by far the biggest supplier of weapons to Israel, which raises questions about American responsibility as the death toll mounts.

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Last modified: 29 May 2024
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