© Fatima Shbair/APPalestinians line up for a meal in Rafah, Gaza Strip โ€ข December 21, 2023
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterates that the Biden administration "cannot support a major military operation in Rafah."

Blinken, at a press conference in Italy, said:
"First, there are currently somewhere around 1.4 million people in Rafah โ€” many of them displaced from other parts of Gaza. It's imperative that people are able to get out of the way of any conflict, and doing so is a monumental task for which we have yet to see a plan. Not only getting them out of harm's way, but making sure that they can be supported with humanitarian assistance.

"Second, even if people are largely out of harm's way, inevitably there's going to remain a pretty significant civilian population in Rafah, and we believe that a major military operation with a large presence of the civilian population would have terrible consequences for that population.

"We are committed, as Israel is, to ensuring that Gaza cannot be controlled by Hamas... But in terms of major military operations in Rafah, that's something that we don't support, and we believe that the objective can be achieved by other means.

"We've been engaged in conversations at senior levels with Israel over the past couple of weeks on this, including as recently as this week."