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US softens stance on Rafah op after Jerusalem addresses concerns

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(JNS) The United States has softened its stance on a broader Israeli military operation in Rafah after Jerusalem addressed its humanitarian concerns, a senior Biden administration official said on Tuesday.

Nearly a million noncombatants have been evacuated from the last Hamas bastion in southernmost Gaza, where four of the remaining terror battalions are entrenched. They have been directed to an expanded humanitarian zone in Al-Mawasi.

Israel began a limited operation in the eastern part of Rafah on May 6, taking operational control of the border crossing with Egypt as well as the section of the Salah al-Din Road in the city. Israeli forces have yet to engage in a major offensive in the center of the city, but have killed terrorists, seized weapons and unearthed hundreds of tunnels, including 50 smuggling tunnels crossing into Egypt so far during the Rafah operation.

“It’s fair to say that the Israelis have updated their plans. They’ve incorporated many of the concerns that we have expressed,” the Times of Israel quoted the official as saying.

According to Bloomberg, the U.S. official said National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was reassured during his visit to Israel earlier this week, finding that Jerusalem was incorporating many of the Biden administration’s concerns into the military’s operational plans for Rafah.

U.S. President Joe Biden has for months expressed opposition to a full-scale invasion of Rafah, which Jerusalem says is essential to defeating Hamas. Biden even threatened to withhold a shipment of offensive weapons should the IDF enter Rafah.

“I have to say after coming out of Israel these past couple of days…it is pretty clear that the Israelis are taking those concerns seriously,” the senior U.S. official said, noting the successful mass evacuations of civilians.

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