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

U.S. Officials Say Deadly Rafah Airstrike Did Not Cross Biden’s Red Line
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The deaths were “devastating,” a White House spokesman said, but the scale of the attack was not enough to change U.S. policy.

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U.S. Will Not Withdraw Military Aid After Rafah Strike, Kirby Says

John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, condemned the deadly Israeli airstrike in Rafah, but said that the attack was not enough to change U.S. policy.

So I just want to just right off the top, talk about these devastating images and reports coming out of Rafah over the weekend following an I.D.F. strike that killed dozens of innocent Palestinians, including children. We still don’t believe that a major ground operation in Rafah is warranted. We still don’t want to see the Israelis, as we say, smash into Rafah with large units over large pieces of territory. And we still believe that. And we haven’t seen that at this point. But we’re going to be watching this, of course, very, very closely. Maybe some people have forgotten what happened on the 7th of October, but we haven’t: 1,200 Israelis, innocent Israelis, slaughtered, mutilated, raped, tortured. And they’re living right next to that kind of threat — still a viable threat in Rafah, by the way. If you think Hamas is just gone, they’re not gone from Rafah or from Gaza. And if you think they’ve abandoned their genocidal intent towards the nation of Israel, think again. They haven’t. So Israel has every right to not want to live next to that kind of threat. And yes, we’re going to continue to provide them the capabilities to go after it.

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John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, condemned the deadly Israeli airstrike in Rafah, but said that the attack was not enough to change U.S. policy.CreditCredit…Haiyun Jiang for The New York Times

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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