President Joe Biden has cautioned Israel, stating that the US will halt the supply of certain weapons if Israel proceeds with a major ground operation in the Gaza city of Rafah.

President Joe Biden
President Joe Bide

During an interview with CNN, Biden stated, “If they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah.” He emphasized that ensuring Israel’s security remains a priority.

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Despite strong opposition from the US, Israel seems prepared to launch a large-scale invasion of Rafah, which is Hamas’s last major stronghold in southern Gaza.

US officials have expressed concerns about potential civilian casualties if an operation is carried out in the densely populated area, where many refugees from other parts of Gaza reside.

Biden clarified that the US does not consider the current situation in Rafah as a ground operation, noting that Israeli forces have remained at the border. However, he warned Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the war cabinet that they would not receive US support if they initiated operations in populated areas.

Acknowledging that US weapons have been involved in civilian casualties in Gaza, Biden stated that Israel has not yet crossed a “red line.”

This represents Biden’s strongest warning yet regarding a possible ground invasion of Rafah and marks the first time he has suggested halting shipments of American weapons to Israel.

Israel’s UN ambassador expressed disappointment with Biden’s intervention, calling it “difficult and very disappointing.” However, the Israeli military stated that any disagreements between the two countries would be resolved behind closed doors.

Biden is under increasing pressure domestically, including from some Democrats and parts of the US public, to restrain Israeli actions in Gaza amid mounting civilian deaths and a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Efforts to reach a ceasefire continue, along with negotiations for the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners. Talks between Israel and Hamas have resumed through mediators in Cairo.

The US has been reviewing its weapons transfers since April, and while ongoing talks with Israel have not fully addressed concerns, no new aid supplies have been delivered to Gaza via two gates in the south.