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Israel-Hamas War: U.S. Ramps Up Pressure on Israel to Avoid Rafah Ground Offensive

Israel-Hamas War Update

Israel continues to bomb Gaza, US steps up pressure

The Israeli army has intensified its military operations in the northern Gaza Strip, with tanks advancing into Jabaliya after a night of heavy bombardment. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized Israel’s tactics, expressing concerns about civilian casualties and the failure to completely neutralize Hamas. Blinken urged against a major ground operation in Rafah, warning of a potential prolonged insurgency.

He called for Israel to withdraw from Gaza after the war and proposed collaboration with Arab and other countries on security, governance, and reconstruction plans. The international community has cautioned Israel against ground attacks in Rafah without ensuring civilian safety as more families flee the area. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue fighting until victory against Hamas as the death toll rises and efforts to secure captives continue on both sides.

Key Concepts

  • Israeli army escalates military operations in northern Gaza Strip
  • U.S. Secretary of State criticizes Israel’s tactics in Gaza war
  • Concerns over humanitarian crisis in Gaza
  • International community warns against ground attacks on Rafah
  • Israel vows to continue fighting until victory against Hamas
  • Efforts ongoing to secure release of captives
  • More families leaving Rafah as Israeli military pressure increases
  • Israel taking U.S. concerns into account
  • Proposal for security, governance, and reconstruction plans for Gaza post-war
  • Death toll in Gaza exceeds 35,000

The Israeli army returned to the northern Gaza Strip, sending tanks deep east of Jabaliya on Sunday (May 12) after a night of intensive air and ground bombardment. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued the Biden administration’s strongest public criticism of Israel’s war in Gaza to date and reiterated U.S. opposition to a major ground military operation in Rafah.

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Blinken said Israel’s tactics cost the lives of innocent civilians but failed to completely neutralize Hamas leaders and militants, which could leave Israel facing a protracted insurgency.

“When it comes to the use of weapons, given the overall harm caused to children, women, and men, it can be reasonably assessed that in some cases Israel’s actions are inconsistent with international humanitarian law,” Blinken said.

Blinken said in a weekend television interview that the military operation might have some initial success as Israel advances in Rafah, but that it would cause “terrible harm to the population” if it did not address “the problems we all want to address.”

In addition, the United States advocates that Israeli troops should “withdraw from Gaza” after the war. The United States will cooperate with Arab countries and other countries to develop “reliable security, governance, and reconstruction plans” for Gaza and is also waiting for Israel to propose such plans.

The State Department said Blinken reiterated the U.S. position in a phone call with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday. The United States has been opposed to the escalation of Israel’s offensive in Rafah due to concerns about the safety of civilians.

Blinken also urged Galante to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. One Gaza crossing was closed due to the Israeli offensive and another was suspended after a Hamas rocket attack.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan also had a phone call with Israeli National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi on the same day. Sullivan expressed concern about military ground operations in Rafah and discussed “alternative courses of action” to ensure the defeat of Hamas.

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A White House summary of the conversation showed Hanebi confirming that “Israel is taking into account U.S. concerns.”

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, the death toll from Israeli military operations in Gaza has now exceeded 35,000. The coastal enclave is in ruins, and the war has triggered a severe humanitarian crisis with an almost complete disruption to the delivery of food, medicine, and fuel.

Rafah is the last city in Gaza that has not been completely devastated by the war and is a refuge for more than one million civilians. But for Israel, Rafah is the last bastion of Hamas that must be eliminated. Israel says there are also four battalions of Hamas militants based in the city.

The international community has repeatedly warned Israel not to conduct ground attacks on Rafah before ensuring the safety and evacuation of civilians. As Israeli military pressure intensified, more families left Rafah.

Israel began marking its first Memorial Day since the war on Sunday evening.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a memorial speech that, in order to commemorate those who died in the war, the Israeli army will continue to fight until it achieves a final victory.

Regarding the war against Hamas, Netanyahu said, “We have gained 50% of the victory, but we are committed to completing this sacred task.” “We fight together. This is to defeat Hamas, which wants to destroy us. The devil’s only way.”

According to Israeli statistics, a raid by Hamas militants on October 7 last year killed about 1,200 people and took 250 people captive in Gaza. Israel estimates that 128 people remain in custody, 36 of whom are said to be dead.

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