White House Sees More 'Targeted' Rafah Action but Renews Warning

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 13, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. (AFP)
Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 13, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. (AFP)
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White House Sees More 'Targeted' Rafah Action but Renews Warning

Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 13, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. (AFP)
Smoke billows during Israeli bombardment over Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 13, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. (AFP)

The White House said Wednesday that Israel has so far been taking more "targeted" action in Rafah but renewed its warning to avoid "a lot of death and destruction" in the southern Gaza city.

President Joe Biden earlier this month warned Israel he would stop supplying some arms -- and his administration halted one shipment including massive bombs -- after he voiced opposition to a major assault on Rafah, where more than one million displaced Palestinians had found shelter.

Jake Sullivan, Biden's national security advisor, said he was told during a visit this week to Israel of "refinements" in its plans for Rafah that would allow it "to achieve its military objectives while taking account of civilian harm."

"What we have seen so far in terms of Israel's military operations in that area has been more targeted and limited, has not involved major military operations into the heart of dense urban areas," Sullivan told reporters, Reuters reported.

But he stopped short of saying that Israel had addressed US concerns, adding that Washington was closely watching ongoing Israeli actions.

"There's no mathematical formula. What we're going to be looking at is whether there is a lot of death and destruction from this operation, or if it is more precise and proportional," he said.

"We will see what will unfold."

During a congressional hearing featuring testimony from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Representative Sara Jacobs praised fellow Democrat Biden for his "red line" on Rafah but said the public might not understand where the line was.



Hezbollah Fires New Barrage at Israel, Which Vows to Hit Back

Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
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Hezbollah Fires New Barrage at Israel, Which Vows to Hit Back

Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)
Hezbollah members take part in a military exercise during a media tour organized for the occasion of Resistance and Liberation Day, in Aaramta, Lebanon, May 21, 2023. (Reuters)

Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group said it fired a new wave of rockets and drones at the Israeli army on Thursday, after an Israeli strike killed one of its senior commanders, AFP reported.
It was Hezbollah’s largest simultaneous attack in near-daily cross-border fire between it and the Israeli army since its ally Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel triggered the Gaza war.
Hezbollah fighters launched “an attack with rockets and drones, targeting six barracks and military sites” while simultaneously flying “squadrons of explosive-laden drones” at three other Israeli bases, the group said in a statement.
One of the targets included an Israeli base that Hezbollah said housed an intelligence headquarters “responsible for the assassinations.”
Hezbollah said the attacks were “part of the response to the assassination” of Hezbollah commander Taleb Abdallah on Tuesday.
The Israeli army said about “40 projectiles were launched toward the Galilee and Golan Heights area,” adding most were intercepted while others ignited fires.
The Israeli government vowed to respond strongly to all Hezbollah attacks.
“Israel will respond with force to all aggressions by Hezbollah,” government spokesman David Mencer said during a press briefing.
“Whether through diplomatic efforts or otherwise, Israel will restore security on our northern border,” he added.
In recent weeks, cross-border exchanges have escalated, with Hezbollah stepping up its use of drones to attack Israeli military positions and Israel hitting back with targeted strikes against the militants.
On Wednesday, top Hezbollah official Hashem Safieddine vowed the group would “increase the intensity, strength, quantity and quality of our attacks,” while speaking at Abdallah’s funeral.
The Israeli army confirmed it carried out the strike that “eliminated” Abdallah on Tuesday, describing him as “one of Hezbollah’s most senior commanders in southern Lebanon.”
A Lebanese military source said he was the “most important” Hezbollah commander to have been killed since the start of the war.
The cross-border violence has killed at least 468 people in Lebanon, most of them fighters but also including 89 civilians, according to an AFP tally.
Israeli authorities say at least 15 Israeli soldiers and 11 civilians have been killed.