US expresses doubt over Israel’s Rafah assault

  • US says it won’t support Israeli assault on Rafah without civilian protection plan while at least 14 have been killed there today in air strikes.
  • UNRWA chief says 300,000 at risk of famine in north Gaza as Israel has blocked “half” of aid missions there since beginning of year.

    Kirby says US actions ‘speak louder than words’

    Responding to a question from Al Jazeera’s Alan Fisher, Kirby defended the US position on the war on Gaza, although the “actions” he referenced were sanctions imposed on a handful of Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.

    Kirby did say that “too many have been killed” in Gaza, and added that the US had been working hard to get an extended humanitarian pause agreed upon, “so that the level of violence can come down”.

    US: We would not support Israeli military operation in Rafah

    White House spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that Secretary of State Antony Blinken made US concerns about the planned operation clear to Israeli officials he met with yesterday.

    “Any major military operation in Rafah at this time, under these circumstances, with more than a million – probably more like a million and a half – Palestinians who are seeking refuge and have been seeking refuge in Rafah without due consideration for their safety would be a disaster, and we would not support it,” Kirby said.

    His comments echoed those of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres earlier today. Speaking about the impending Rafah operation, Guterres said “Half of Gaza’s population is now crammed into Rafah. They have nowhere to go.”

    The Israeli army continued to bomb Rafah today, while residents told Al Jazeera that they are hopeful talks between Israel and Hamas over a possible truce deal will bear fruit, and that they are extremely fearful of the coming Israeli attack.

    WHO says al-Shifa Hospital has reverted to ‘minimal functionality’ after nearby fighting

    The World Health Organization has said that intense fighting in the area around al-Shifa Hospital has forced the facility to revert to “minimal functionality” after initially restoring some services.

    “Al-Shifa Hospital has reverted to minimal functionality after beginning to resume some services with the support of WHO and health partners. The past few days of intense hostilities in its vicinity have undone progress,” the WHO said in a statement.

    “We cannot let the cornerstone of Gaza’s health system collapse again. Health care must be actively protected. Hospitals must be urgently resupplied.”

    The largest hospital in Gaza came under consistent assault by Israeli forces earlier in the war, with Israeli soldiers carrying out raids inside the facility, leading to the deaths of many people trapped inside, including babies.

    Yemen’s Houthis say they will continue Red Sea attacks

    Yemen’s Houthi rebel group has said that the group will continue to carry out attacks in the Red Sea in support of Gaza.

    “Food, medicine and humanitarian air should reach all different parts of Gaza. If not, we will carry on our operations,” Houthi leader Abdel Malek al-Houthi said in televised remarks today.

    Al-Houthi added that continued US and British attacks against the group would not do “the US, Britain or Israel any good”.

    Earlier on Thursday, a Houthi spokesperson had said that US/UK air attacks had hit the port of Salif, in western Yemen.

    US: No evidence of serious planning for Israeli assault on Rafah

    The US State Department also warned that any Israeli military attack on Rafah with little or no planning would be a “disaster”.

    “We would not support the undertaking of something like this without serious and credible planning as it relates to the more than a million people who are sheltering there, as well as without considering the impacts on humanitarian assistance and the safe departure of foreign nationals,” said the State Department’s deputy spokesperson, Vedant Patel.

    Netanyahu has said that Israel now plans to attack Rafah, after devastating areas such as Khan Younis and Gaza City.

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