President Joe Biden speaks at a campaign event at Pullman Yards in Atlanta, on March 9, 2024. (Megan Varner/TNS) Read more at: https://www.stripes.com/theaters/us/2024-03-11/biden-warns-israel-invading-rafah-ramadan-13282090.html Source - Stars and Stripes

 U.S. Biden warns Israel against invading Rafah as Ramadan begins

(Tribune News Service) — U.S. President Joe Biden warned Israel against an invasion of the city of Rafah in southern Gaza as cease-fire talks between Israel and Hamas remained deadlocked at the beginning of Ramadan.

The U.S. had been hoping for a breakthrough in the negotiations before Islam’s holy month, which began after sundown on Sunday. The deal as envisioned would see a six-week pause in fighting and the release of dozens of Israeli hostages in return for hundreds of Palestinian prisoners.

Negotiations remained at an impasse, however, with Israel accusing Hamas of stalling in a bid to inflame violence across the region during Ramadan, and Hamas saying more Israeli hostages had died in captivity than earlier believed.

Israel has threatened to invade Rafah, the last bastion of Hamas in Gaza and where more than a million Palestinians are sheltering, if the talks fail. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has said Israel won’t stop its campaign until the Iran-backed militant group is destroyed, with its main leaders killed, captured or exiled.

In an interview with MSNBC on Saturday, Biden expressed hope that a cease-fire agreement may still be reached and warned that an Israeli invasion of Rafah would represent a “red line.” Biden’s comments came as U.S. Central Command began sending supplies to Gaza to build a temporary dock to deliver large quantities of humanitarian aid by sea.

Ships will carry food, water, medicine and other supplies to the coastal enclave. The U.S. has been pushing for increased aid for Palestinians in Gaza, where a hunger crisis has developed during the five-month war, and sought to rein in Israeli’s military activity.

Biden, in a statement released on Sunday to mark the beginning of Ramadan, said the U.S. will continue to lead international efforts to get more humanitarian assistance into Gaza by land, air, and sea.

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