US: No support for Israel's operation in Rafah without civilian protection

The United States says it would not support Israel's plan to expand operations in the Gaza Strip's southernmost city of Rafah, if protection of civilian life is not factored in.

Israeli forces are poised to conduct major ground operations in Rafah, where they say the last remaining Hamas stronghold is located. More than one million Gaza residents are taking refuge there.

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby spoke on the issue at a news conference on Thursday.

He said the US has not seen any convincing plans indicating that Israeli forces are imminently going to conduct any kind of major operations in Rafah.

Kirby said, "The Israeli military has a special obligation as they conduct operations there or anywhere else to make sure that they are factoring in protection for innocent civilian life."

He added that given that more than a million Palestinians are seeking refuge in Rafah, any operation right now would be a disaster for them.

He said that the US would not support any operation that would not take their safety and protection into account.