John Kirby
John KirbyREUTERS/Jim Bourg

The White House on Friday said it would share with Israeli officials alternatives for eliminating Hamas in Gaza without a ground offensive in Rafah, Reuters reported.

White House spokesperson John Kirby made the comment ahead of talks next week in Washington between senior US officials and a visiting Israeli delegation.

"We believe a major ground offensive [in Rafah] is a mistake" and would be a "disaster," Kirby told a briefing.

Kirby added that US officials would share possible options with Israeli officials when they visit Washington, and said more details on the visit would be released in coming days.

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was visiting Israel, that he would not be dissuaded from invading Rafah, saying Israel was prepared to act alone.

Before leaving Israel, Blinken reiterated that the Biden administration opposes an Israeli operation in Rafah.

“We share Israel’s goal of defeating Hamas, which is responsible for the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust. And we share the goal of ensuring Israel’s long-term security. As we’ve said, though, a major military ground operation in Rafah is not the way to do it,” he told reporters at Ben Gurion Airport.

The Secretary of State said that such an operation “risks killing more civilians, it risks wreaking greater havoc with the provision of humanitarian assistance, it risks further isolating Israel around the world and jeopardizing its long-term security and standing.”

The US administration has long said it is opposed to an Israeli operation in Rafah. Earlier this week, President Joe Biden spoke to Netanyahu and said after the phone call, “I continued to affirm that Israel has a right to go after Hamas, a group of terrorists responsible for the worst massacre of the Jewish people since the Holocaust. And I reiterated the need for an immediate ceasefire as part of a deal to free hostages, lasting several weeks, so we can get hostages home and surge aid to civilians in Gaza.”

“I asked the Prime Minister to send a team to Washington to discuss ways to target Hamas without a major ground operation in Rafah,” concluded Biden.

In a recent interview on MSNBC, Biden said that an Israeli invasion of Rafah would be a red line but also said in the same breath that crossing it would not result in punitive measures against Israel.

The White House later attempted to walk back Biden’s comments. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters, “The President didn't make any declarations or pronouncements or announcements. The red line came up in a question he was responding to that question. I think he gave a full answer to it.”

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)