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US President Joe Biden interacts with PM Netanyahu, voices 'deep concern' over Israel's possible Rafah operation

Just Earth News | @justearthnews | 19 Mar 2024, 03:57 am Print

US President Joe Biden interacts with PM Netanyahu, voices 'deep concern' over Israel's possible Rafah operation Israel-Gaza

PM Netanyahu over Israel-Gaza conflict. Photo Courtesy: Joe Biden X page

US President Joe Biden had a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, when he expressed 'deep concern' over Israel's possible ground operation in Rafah.

Rafah, a Palestinian city in the southern Gaza Strip, is currently home to more than one million displaced civilians who are seeking shelter after fleeing fighting and chaos in the north.

"The President affirmed the need to defeat Hamas in Gaza while also protecting the civilian population and facilitating the safe and unhindered delivery of assistance throughout Gaza," the White House said in a statement, giving details about the conversation between Biden and Netanyahu.

During the conversation, the President and Prime Minster agreed to have their teams meet soon in Washington to exchange views and discuss alternative approaches that would target key elements of Hamas and secure the Egypt-Gaza border without a major ground operation in Rafah.

Following his conversation with Netanyahu, Biden posted on X: "Today, I spoke again with Prime Minister Netanyahu regarding the latest developments in Israel and Gaza.I continued to affirm that Israel has a right to go after Hamas, a group of terrorists responsible for the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust."

Biden said there is an urgent need for an immediate ceasefire to ensure the release of hostages.

"And I reiterated the need for an immediate ceasefire as part of a deal to free hostages, lasting several weeks, so we can get hostages home and surge aid to civilians in Gaza," he said.

This is the first interaction between the two leaders since February 15.

According to reports, they had 20 telephone conversations since the outbreak of the war following the Hamas attack on October 7, 2023.

Shifa Hospital raided

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Forces on Monday (March 18, 2024) launched a raid on Shifa Hospital in Gaza.

The raid was conducted amid intelligence inputs that senior Hamas officials were in the area and using the hospital to plan and carry out terror activity, The Times of Israel reported quoting Israeli military.

Israel Defence Forces said a key Hamas leader was eliminated during the raid.

"Eliminated: Faiq Mabhouh, head of the Operations Directorate of Hamas' Internal Security. Mabhouh was hiding in a compound at the Shifa hospital, from which he operated and advanced terrorist activity," IDF posted on X.

By Monday evening, some 20 Hamas gunmen were killed inside the hospital premises and another 20 were killed in the surrounding area, the IDF said as quoted by The Times of Israel.

One Israeli soldier was also killed amid a gun battle with terror operatives in the area of the hospital before dawn, the news portal reported.

This is the second time the Israeli army raided the medical complex since the beginning of the conflict on Oct. 7 last year.

The first raid occurred on Nov. 16 and lasted approximately 8 days, resulting in the destruction of parts of its buildings and courtyards, reported Xinhua