A Palestinian woman mourns her child, Mahmoud Essa 12, who was killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, early Sunday, May 12, 2024.
A Palestinian woman mourns her child, Mahmoud Essa 12, who was killed in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, early Sunday, May 12, 2024.(Photo | AP)

Israel lacks 'credible plan' to safeguard Rafah civilians: Blinken

Rafah is sheltering an estimated 1.4 million Palestinians, most of them displaced from elsewhere by Israeli bombardments, amid dire shortages of food and water.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has defended a decision to pause a delivery to Israel of 3,500 bombs over concerns they could be used in Rafah, saying Israel lacked a “credible plan” to protect the civilians sheltering there, The Guardian reports.

Speaking to ABC News’ This Week, Blinken said that the US president, Joe Biden, remains determined to help Israel defend itself and that the shipment of 3,500 2,000-pound and 500-pound bombs was the only US weapons package being withheld, The Guardian said.

That could change, he said, if Israel launches a full-scale attack on Rafah.

Biden has made clear to Israel that if it “launches this major military operation to Rafah, then there are certain systems that we’re not going to be supporting and supplying for that operation,” Blinken said.

“We have real concerns about the way they’re used,” he continued. Israel needs to “have a clear, credible plan to protect civilians, which we haven’t seen.”

Rafah is sheltering an estimated 1.4 million Palestinians, most of them displaced from elsewhere by Israeli bombardments, amid dire shortages of food and water.

UNRWA, according to reports, has estimated that at least 150,000 people have fled Rafah since Monday, when Israel ordered residents be evacuated and went ahead with an operation despite international concerns.

Israel has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, in retaliation for an Oct. 7 cross-border incursion by Hamas which killed around 1,200 lives. About 85% of the enclave’s 2.3 million is internally displaced, and there are widespread shortages of food, water and medicine.

Meanwhile, Middle East Monitor, citing Wafa and Anadolu news agencies reported on Sunday that at least 18 Palestinians were killed and six others injured within a span of 24 hours in Israeli attacks targeting the city of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.

The bodies and injured were shifted to the Kuwaiti Hospital in the city home to 1.4 million people taking refuge from the war in Gaza, the report said.

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