Israel agrees to listen to US concerns ahead of Rafah invasion

Israel has agreed to listen to US concerns before it launches an invasion of Rafah, where more than 1.5 million people are sheltering, the White House has said.

“They [the Israelis] have assured us that they won’t go into Rafah until we’ve had a chance to really share our perspectives and our concerns with them, so we’ll see where that goes,” said John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson in an interview with ABC.

It comes after the Palestinian president urged Joe Biden to intervene, saying that he expects Israel to attack the southern city in the coming days.

Israel has long threatened to attack the city – the only part of Gaza where it has not sent troops – drawing intense opposition from Israel’s allies who say it would cause thousands of civilian casualties. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said four brigades of Hamas fighters are hiding there and must be tackled.

Earlier on Sunday, the IDF chief of staff and chief of the Southern Command approved battle plans for the “continuation of war”, signalling that it plans to push ahead with its Rafah ground operation.

Mr Abbas has warned an attack on the city would be: “The biggest catastrophe in the Palestinian people’s history.”

Mr Biden has previously warned that Israel should not go into Rafah without credible plans to protect civilians.

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