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Netanyahu calls for plan to remove civilians from Rafah, launch ‘massive’ military operation

Smoke rises after Israeli bombardment in Rafah on Feb. 9. [Said Khatib | AFP | Getty Images]

The Israeli military is drawing up plans for both the evacuation of civilians from Rafah and a “massive” military operation in the border town at the request of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister’s office announced Friday. More than a million displaced people are crowded into Rafah. The United States “would not support” a major Israeli military operation in Rafah under current conditions, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Thursday. In response to Netanyahu’s call for an evacuation, the Secretary General of Amnesty International warned that “Palestinians in Gaza are at grave risk of genocide.”

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President Biden called Israel’s military conduct in the Gaza Strip “over the top” Thursday, his sharpest rebuke yet and the latest critical comment from a U.S. official in recent days. “A lot of innocent people are in trouble, and they’re dying, and it’s got to stop,” said Biden, who has generally avoided criticizing the U.S. ally.


A medical official at a Rafah hospital said Friday that it received five people killed and 13 wounded after an Israeli strike. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment about airstrikes in Rafah.


Biden also issued a memorandum that lays out standards for countries that receive U.S. weapons and, for the first time, requires the administration to submit an annual report to Congress about whether they are meeting the requirements. The memorandum was issued after Democratic lawmakers raised concerns about the extent of Israel’s campaign in Gaza.



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