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Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

US State Department Spox Discusses Rafah Developments

Thu 09 May 2024 | 09:10 PM
Rana Atef

US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller had a press briefing on Wednesday where he adressed the latest developments in Gaza's Rafah. 

He said: "On our behalf, we continue to have concerns about a potential Rafah operation, and we have made that quite clear. We’ve made it clear with the Israeli Government privately, and of course everyone from the President on down has made that clear publicly."

Miller adde: "We have concerns about what that would mean for the civilian population there – when you look at the fact that there are so many people crowded into such a small area, when you look at the way Israel has conducted its operations in the past and what the impact on the civilian population has been. And we also have concerns about the impact of any potential operation on the delivery of humanitarian assistance."

He asserted: "We have been pretty clear about what we want to see when it comes to an operation in Rafah, and that’s that we don’t want to see one go forward. We do not believe Israel has presented a credible humanitarian plan that would account for both the potential harm to civilian life of an operation in such a crowded area or for properly evacuating and caring for the over a million people who are there. We just don’t believe it’s possible to move those people to other places inside Gaza, and we have not seen a plan to take care of them if they were moved to other places. And so that’s what we have made clear, is that we don’t support such an operation."

"And so when you take those results that we have seen over the course of the campaign and then you transpose them over a landscape in Rafah when you – where you have more than 1 million people in such a tight area – people who have moved from Gaza City, who have moved from Khan Younis, who have moved from other parts of Gaza, and all crowded into Rafah – all of those – all of those concerns that we had previously are magnified when you think about how they would operate in such a dense area."

"There is also an additional concern that we’ve made clear, which is that the Rafah area is the center for the distribution of humanitarian assistance – most of the distribution of humanitarian assistance in Gaza – both because that’s where the civilian population is, because that’s where they’ve moved, and also because that’s where the two principal crossings that have been open for months now also exist. And so there is no way to replace the delivery of humanitarian assistance through Rafah and Kerem Shalom and then the network that has been set up inside Gaza, headquartered in Rafah, that would be severely disrupted, severely jeopardized by kinetic action."

"The thing that heightens the concern in Rafah is you have so many more people in such a dense area, and so all of the concerns that we had previously are magnified when you look at the impact of all the people that have moved into such a dense area as well as the humanitarian assistance concerns that I’ve been detailing."

About the activity of the border corssing, he said: "Israel has seized that crossing and Israel is in control of it now, so it is – the responsibility to open that crossing and make sure that it is running effectively right now is a responsibility of the Government of Israel, which is why we have made clear to them that they need to open the crossing as soon as possible to make sure that aid deliveries can come in, make sure that humanitarian aid workers can come in and come out, and make sure that the delivery of humanitarian assistance isn’t further impeded."

Miller concluded: "There has been intense ongoing diplomatic efforts to this end with partners in the region about how we can present a plan for a pathway to an independent Palestinian state. As part of that, it would include reunited West Bank and Gaza under Palestinian Authority control, under a reformed Palestinian Authority, I should add. And the Secretary was just engaged in those conversations last week when he was in the region, and we continue to make good progress on it."