WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden will speak to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Monday after Israel’s military called for Palestinians to evacuate eastern Rafah ahead of an offensive in the southern Gaza city, the White House said.

Israel’s announcement comes despite Washington repeatedly saying it does not support an invasion of Rafah without a full plan to aid civilians sheltering there, and in spite of ongoing talks with Hamas for a ceasefire.

“We can’t speak for IDF operations. We have made our views clear on a major ground invasion of Rafah to the Israeli government, and the president will speak with the prime minister today,” a spokesman for the National Security Council told AFP.

“We continue to believe that a hostage deal is the best way to preserve the lives of the hostages, and avoid an invasion of Rafah, where more than a million people are sheltering.

Hamas, Israel entrench positions at Gaza truce talks

“Those talks are ongoing now.”

Israel’s military on Monday called for the evacuation of Palestinians from eastern Rafah following a rocket strike by Hamas on a border area between Gaza and Israel that killed four Israeli soldiers.

The evacuation call followed intensified disagreement between Israel and Hamas over the group’s demands to end the seven-month war, during weekend talks in Cairo.

Consultations between the United States and Qatar, which like Egypt are mediating the talks, were expected on Monday in Doha, but state-linked media in Egypt said negotiations had stalled after the rocket strike.


200 characters