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13 May, 2024 15:16

Israeli offensive unlikely to eliminate Hamas – Blinken

An all-out attack on the city of Rafah in Gaza would only provoke “anarchy,” the US secretary of state has insisted
Israeli offensive unlikely to eliminate Hamas – Blinken

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has criticized Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza, claiming that an all-out offensive on Rafah in the south of the Palestinian enclave would only provoke “anarchy,” rather than eliminating Hamas.

In a pair of TV interviews on Sunday, Blinken underscored that Washington believes Israeli forces should “get out of Gaza” as their tactics have failed to neutralize Hamas and could drive a lasting insurgency.

The top US diplomat told CBS that a full-scale invasion of Rafah could come “potentially at an incredibly high cost” for civilians, and that even a massive assault on the southern Gazan city was unlikely to end the threat from Hamas.

“Israel is on the trajectory, potentially, to inherit an insurgency with many armed Hamas left, or if it leaves [Gaza] a vacuum filled by chaos, filled by anarchy and probably refilled by Hamas,” Blinken stated.

He pointed out that the militant group had already returned to certain areas of northern Gaza that Israel had “liberated.” 

Washington is waiting to see credible plans from West Jerusalem for Gaza once the war is finally over, Blinken said in another interview with NBC, adding “we’ve been talking to them [Israeli authorities] about a much better way of getting an enduring result.” 

Blinken’s comments come as Israeli forces have been pushing deeper into the densely populated Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have crowded in hopes of refuge.

The bombardment in the eastern parts of Rafah has already sent 300,000 Gazans fleeing, according to local authorities. Israel has claimed that the city hosts four battalions of Hamas fighters.

On Friday, Blinken delivered a report to Congress on the Israeli military’s operations in Gaza that said it is “reasonable to assess” that the Jewish state has violated international humanitarian law. The report, however, stopped short of formally finding that the Israeli military had already done so. It also claimed there is no “complete information” about whether US weapons were used in those actions.

US President Joe Biden admitted last week that at least some Palestinian civilians in Gaza were killed by American-made bombs, and vowed to halt the supply of any weapons that Israel could use in a major military operation in Rafah.

The White House recently suspended the supply of some larger-payload bombs that Israel could use in its new offensive, outraging staunch supporters of the Jewish state.

Israel declared war on Hamas in Gaza following the militant group’s deadly October 7 incursion, which claimed over 1,200 lives and saw hundreds of Israelis taken hostage.

Over 35,000 Palestinians have been killed and 78,755 wounded as a result of the Israeli retaliatory offensive in Gaza, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory.