Latest News 25-03-2024 12:06 8 Views

Harris suggests ‘consequences’ are on the table for Israel if Netanyahu invades Rafah

Vice President Kamala Harris declined to rule out 'consequences' for Israel if it moves forward with an invasion of Rafah in Gaza on Sunday.

Harris made the statement in an interview with ABC News, saying such a move by Netanyahu's government would be a 'huge mistake.' Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said an invasion is imminent, arguing it is necessary to fully root out Hamas.

'Netanyahu appears to be just flat out ignoring President Biden's warning about an offensive in Rafah. Is that a red line for your administration?' ABC's Rachel Scott asked.

'We have been clear in multiple conversations and in every way that any major military operation in Rafah would be a huge mistake,' Harris told the outlet when asked about potential consequences. 'Let me tell you something: I have studied the maps. There's nowhere for those folks to go.'

'A mistake, but would there be consequences if [Netanyahu] does move forward?' Scott pressed.

'We're going to take it one step at a time, but we've been very clear in terms of our perspective on whether or not [an invasion] should happen,' Harris responded.

'Are you ruling out that there would be consequences from the United States?' Scott pressed again.

'I am ruling out nothing,' Harris said.

The exchange comes days after Netanyahu vowed Israel would move forward with an invasion with or without U.S. support on Friday.

Netanyahu nevertheless agreed to send a high-level delegation to meet with White House officials this week to determine whether a compromise can be made.

Israel says Rafah is the last remaining stronghold of Hamas and the terrorist group’s forces there must be defeated for Israel to meet its war objectives. Israel vowed to destroy Hamas following the group’s Oct. 7 attack, which killed some 1,200 people, took 250 others hostage and triggered the fierce Israeli air and ground offensive in Gaza.

Rafah now serves as shelter to roughly 1 million Palestinians displaced by the Gaza war, however. The Biden administration has insisted that any plan for an invasion must include clear and robust protections for civilians, and they have yet to be satisfied with Israel's precautions.

Netanyahu said he told Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel is working on ways to evacuate civilians from combat zones and to address the humanitarian needs of Gaza. Nevertheless, he said an invasion of Rafah is imminent.

'I also said that we have no way to defeat Hamas without entering Rafah,' Netanyahu said. 'I told him that I hoped we would do this with U.S. support, but, if necessary, we will do it alone.'

The Associated Press contributed to this report


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