Major Rafah operation will not defeat Hamas, White House says


US President Joe Biden believes that a major Rafah operation by Israel will not advance the country's objective of defeating Hamas in Gaza, the White House said on Thursday.

"Smashing into Rafah, in his view, will not advance that objective," spokesman John Kirby said in a briefing with reporters.

Kirby said Hamas had been pressured significantly by Israel and that there were better ways now to go after what remains of the group's leadership than an operation with significant risk to civilians.

"The argument that somehow we're walking away from Israel, or we're not willing to help them defeat Hamas just doesn't comport with the facts."

The current round of negotiations in Cairo over a possible hostage-release deal have ended without apparent resolution of differences, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday. Israel will proceed with its operation in Rafah as planned, the official added.

"We still believe that there's a path forward, but it's gonna take some leadership on both sides," said Kirby. "And it's going to take a little bit of moral courage on both sides to finally be able to come across that table and ink this deal."

Kirby said US-Israel consultations were ongoing about alternatives to a major ground operation in Rafah.

"That's a choice that Israel will have to make," he said of the offensive in densely packed Rafah. "And it's one we hope they don't."

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