The war between Israel and Hamas: A UN court order to halt the attack on Gaza further isolates the American position

Washington (AFP) – Order of the United Nations court Israel’s cessation of its attack on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip has deepened the disconnect with the United States over the military operation that faces increasing international condemnation, but American officials describe it, at least so far, as limited and targeted.

The decision taken by the International Court of Justice in The Hague on Friday increases the pressure facing an increasingly isolated Israel, and comes just days after the announcement by Norway, Ireland and Spain. They will recognize the Palestinian stateAnd the Prosecutor of a separate international tribunal Request for arrest warrants To Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Hamas leaders.

The Biden administration stands aloof from the international community – although it opposes a major attack in Rafah, the administration also insists that the steps taken by its close ally Israel so far have not crossed red lines.

Administration officials so far appear intent on moving forward with military and political support for Israel next The deadly attack on Hamas last OctoberWhile it is also pressuring its ally to avoid carrying out a large-scale military operation in the densely populated Rafah.

“What we have seen so far in terms of Israeli military operations in that area have been more targeted and limited, and have not included major military operations in the heart of dense urban areas,” National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters at a White House briefing. this week.

But he added: “We now have to see what happens from here.”

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A State Department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the administration’s internal assessment of the situation, said the operation in Gaza “has not yet moved to the heart of Rafah, which takes us to the most densely populated areas.”

Earlier this month, the White House announced this Stopping a shipment of approximately 3,500 bombs, including massive 2,000-pound explosives that the Biden administration said killed civilians. President Joe Biden he warned during an interview with CNN And that “if they enter Rafah, I will not provide them with the weapons that were historically used to deal with Rafah.”

US officials, while pressuring Israel, have suggested that a major operation is a red line that would undermine stalled negotiations on an agreement to return Israeli hostages held by Hamas, and would prompt Biden to back away from the weapons he would send to Israel.

But the tone in the White House appeared to have undergone a marked shift in the following week Sullivan returned from a visit to IsraelHe said he was briefed on “improvements” in the Israeli plan to eliminate Hamas in Rafah, as well as to Saudi Arabia.

During Sullivan’s talks with Netanyahu and other officials during the trip, the Israeli side addressed many of Biden’s concerns about his plans for Rafah, according to a senior administration official who requested anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.

The administration has stopped short of giving the green light to the Israeli plan, but the shifting planning of Israeli officials indicates they are taking Biden’s concerns seriously, the official said.

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This assessment may not be of much consolation to Palestinians who remain trapped in Rafah – the southern part of the Gaza Strip on the border with Egypt, and the location of a vital aid crossing. More than a million people have taken refuge there in recent months after fleeing fighting elsewhere, but about 900,000 have fled the city since then.

Israel has brought in hundreds of trucks through the other main border crossing, Kerem Shalom, but the United Nations and aid organizations say Israeli military operations make it dangerous for them to transport food, water and other supplies to starving Palestinians.

USAID says Gaza needs a steady flow of 600 trucks a day of food and other aid to stop what the heads of USAID and USAID have started. The United Nations World Food Program calls for famine in the north and prevent it from spreading south.

Even with the start of the American dock Bringing a small amount of aid by seaGaza has received only a small portion of the necessary supplies since the start of the Israeli attack.

Leading international humanitarian groups welcomed the ICJ ruling because of the pressure they hoped it would bring. Doctors Without Borders said that this is confirmation of how “catastrophic” the situation is for Palestinian civilians in Gaza and “the urgent need to increase humanitarian aid immediately.”

There is no practical mechanism to force Israel to comply with the court order, which, in addition to ordering a halt to the offensive, also provides for increased humanitarian aid to the region and access to Gaza for war crimes investigators.

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Israel has shown no signs that it intends to change course after Friday’s ruling. The war in Gaza followed an October 7 attack on Israel that killed about 1,200 people, about a quarter of them soldiers, and captured 250 others. At least 35,000 Palestinians were killed in Gaza According to the Ministry of HealthWhich does not differentiate between combatants and civilians.

The court’s demands go beyond what the United States has asked of Israel at the moment, although Washington has nonetheless indicated that it remains opposed to a more intrusive operation in Gaza.

The Foreign Minister said: “When it comes to Rafah, we have long expressed our concerns about an all-out military attack on Rafah and the damage this could inflict on the civilian population in the absence of a clear and credible plan to protect it.” Antony Blinken told the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday.

Blinken also stressed that the administration does not believe that launching a major attack will achieve the results that Israel seeks to achieve, “which is to deal effectively and permanently with Hamas.”

He said: “Our concerns about a comprehensive military attack in Rafah still exist.” We have other ways to deal with the challenge posed by Hamas and we believe they can be more effective and more durable.”

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Associated Press writers Ellen Knickmeyer and Matthew Lee contributed to this report.

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