Biden reiterated his concerns to Netanyahu about the situation in Rafah

Biden reiterated his concerns to Netanyahu about the situation in Rafah

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Monday morning as Israel appeared closer to launching an offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah - a move staunchly opposed by the US on humanitarian grounds.

The White House said Biden underscored US concerns about an invasion of Rafah - where more than 1 million civilians from other parts of Gaza are sheltering after 7 months of war sparked by Hamas' October 7 attack on Israel.

“The President reiterated his clear position on Rafah,” according to a White House summary of the call.

The call comes hours before Biden is to host King Abdullah II of Jordan for a private lunch meeting at the White House on Monday.

On Sunday, Netanyahu rejected international pressure to halt the war in Gaza in a fiery speech marking the country’s annual Holocaust memorial day, declaring: “If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.”

“I say to the leaders of the world: No amount of pressure, no decision by any international forum will stop Israel from defending itself,” he said, speaking in English. “Never again is now.”

Tensions escalated Sunday when Hamas fired rockets at Israeli troops positioned on the border with Gaza near Israel’s main crossing for delivering humanitarian aid, killing four soldiers. Meanwhile, Israeli airstrikes on Rafah killed 22 people, including children and two infants, according to a hospital.