Disagreement between allies? – US and Israel offer conflicting explanations for Rafah operation

After Israel captured the Rafah border post Between Gaza and Egypt on Tuesday morning, there were conflicting descriptions of the aim of the operation from Israel and the United States.

White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday evening that the operation in Rafah had a limited objective and was aimed at combating the smuggling of weapons and money.

“What our Israeli counterparts told us is that this operation last night was limited and designed to prevent Hamas from smuggling weapons,” Kirby said.

Kirby also said Israel and Hamas needed to make concessions to reach an agreement.

“A careful assessment of the positions of both parties suggests that they should be able to close the remaining gaps, and we will do everything possible to support this process,” he said.

However, the Israeli government’s assessment of Rafah does not appear to confirm the White House’s claims.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant visited an IDF artillery battery near Rafah on Tuesday, where he told soldiers the operation would continue “until we eliminate Hamas.”

“Yesterday, I ordered the IDF to enter the Rafah area, seize the crossing and carry out its missions,” Gallant told the soldiers. “This operation will continue until we eliminate Hamas in the Rafah area and throughout the Gaza Strip, or until the first kidnapped person returns.

Gallant said Israel would be willing to compromise to bring the hostages home, but is ready to complete the elimination of Hamas.

“We are ready to compromise to bring back the hostages,” Gallant said, “but if this is not possible, we will intensify the operation, it will take place throughout the Gaza Strip – in the south, center and North”. Hamas only understands force, so we will intensify our operations and military pressure will lead to the crushing of Hamas.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who sent an Israeli delegation to Cairo to continue hostage negotiations, said the Rafah operation “is a necessary condition for the return of the hostages.”

“The entry into Rafah serves two main war goals: the return of our abductees and the elimination of Hamas, and we have already proven this in the previous release of abductees – military pressure is a necessary condition for return of our abductees,” Netanyahu said.

War Minister Benny Gantz also spoke Tuesday about the operation in Rafah, stressing that it would continue “as long as necessary.”

“Yesterday we launched a military operation in the Rafah region – which will expand as needed,” Gantz said.

Even if the hostages are the main objective, Gantz said Israel would destroy Hamas.

“We are waging a war of existence, not a tactical battle against one battalion or another. Our achievements, even if they take a long time, must be strategic – and the return of our abductees is the first strategic objective, alongside the need to eliminate the threat of Hamas and ensure that such a threat does not re-emerge. not.