Biden, Netanyahu to Discuss Avoiding ‘Major’ Ground Operation in Rafah

Biden Netanyahu

More than a million Palestinians have sought refuge from the ongoing assault in the southern Gaza city

As President Joe Biden continues to be embroiled in the Israel-Hamas war amid a re-election campaign, the White House issued a statement detailing Biden’s Monday call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

According to the readout, the president and prime minister discussed hostage negotiations in Qatar and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Per the statement, Biden and Netanyahu have “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.”

The release also said that the president stressed the “need to significantly increase the flow of lifesaving aid reaching those in need throughout Gaza” and the “need to defeat Hamas in Gaza,” while also protecting the more than one million displaced civilians seeking refuge in Rafah after fleeing the north.

Biden’s words arrive after his administration has faced increased pressure to back a ceasefire in Gaza. The president has expressed his growing frustration with Netanyahu as Palestinian casualties mount following Israel’s military response to the Oct. 7 attack, when Hamas-led militants killed 1,200 people and took around 250 men, women, and children hostage. According to Gaza’s health ministry, the number of Palestinians killed in the war has surpassed 30,000.


On Monday, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) issued a special brief warning that half of Gaza’s population is at “imminent” risk of famine. The report predicted that since December, when the IPC first warned of potentially catastrophic humanitarian consequences in the region, “the conditions necessary to prevent famine have not been met and the latest evidence confirms that Famine is imminent in the northern governorates and projected to occur anytime between mid-March and May 2024.” 

“A major ground operation there would be a mistake,” Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told reporters Monday, via the New York Times. “It would lead to more innocent civilian deaths, worsen the already dire humanitarian crisis, deepen the anarchy in Gaza, and further isolate Israel internationally.”

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