US VP Harris warns Israel of ‘consequences’ of Rafah assault

The US vice president said that it would be a ‘huge mistake’ to move into Rafah with any type of major military operation.

Israel could face “consequences” if it launches a ground assault on the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, the US vice president has warned.

Vice President Kamala Harris said in an interview that aired on Sunday that it would be a “huge mistake” for the Israeli military to move on the city. The comments appear to underscore the continued strain in relations between Washington and Tel Aviv as the latter’s war in Gaza continues.

The United States and other Israeli allies continue to warn against an assault on Rafah, where over 1 million Palestinian civilians are sheltering.

“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 ABC’s This Week.

“I have studied the maps – there’s nowhere for those folks to go. And we’re looking at about a million and a half people in Rafah who are there because they were told to go there,” Harris added.

“I am ruling out nothing,” Harris said when she was asked whether there would be consequences from the US if the Israeli operation in the overcrowded city goes ahead.

She did not give details of what such consequences might entail. “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 that should happen,” she said.


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday that a major ground assault on the town of Rafah would be “a mistake” and “unnecessary”.

Israel has waged a deadly military offensive on the Palestinian territory since Hamas attacked it on October 7, killing about 1,200 and taking over 200 people captive.

The Israeli military has also imposed a crippling blockade that has left much of the population on the verge of starvation.

More than 32,200 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli offensive and over 74,500 injured. Approximately 1.5 million Palestinians have now been pushed into Rafah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to Blinken’s comments by insisting that Israel is working on ways to evacuate civilians from combat zones and to address the humanitarian needs of Gaza.

“I also said that we have no way to defeat Hamas without entering Rafah,” Netanyahu added. “I told him that I hope we would do this with US support but if necessary we will do it alone.”

Resistance to US support for Israel’s military operations in Gaza continues to grow. On Friday, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called on the US to suspend weapons transfers to Israel.

The US is Israel’s top weapons supplier. Washington provides at least $3.8bn in aid to Israel annually, and Biden is working with Congress to secure another $14bn.

Public opinion polls, however, show that the Biden administration’s steadfast support for Israel may cost the president votes as the election season gets under way, and Biden and key Democrats have in recent weeks been more forceful in their criticism of the Israeli government siege of Gaza.

However, White House officials insist that Washington will not halt its weapon transfers to Israel, and insist that they share Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas in Gaza.

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