US raises concerns about Rafah offensive in online meeting with Israelis

The United States has reiterated its concerns over a planned ground offensive by Israeli forces into Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. The message was conveyed in an online meeting between US and Israeli officials.

Israel is set to go ahead with a massive ground offensive into Rafah, where nearly 1.5 million people are taking shelter. The US is concerned about the possibility of mass civilian casualties.

The White House released a joint statement from the two-hour video conference on Monday.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan represented the United States. Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi spoke for Israel.
Experts and other senior officials also took part.

The statement says the two sides "agreed that they share the objective to see Hamas defeated in Rafah."

But it adds that the US has concerns about the offensive. Israel agreed to take such concerns into account, and to have follow-up discussions.

At a news conference on Monday, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that if Israel is "going to move forward with a military operation, we have to have this conversation. We have to understand how they are going to move forward."