White House
White HouseReuters

US and Israeli officials on Thursday held a virtual discussion on, among other issues, a possible Israeli operation in the Gazan city of Rafah.

The White House said in a statement that “National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan convened the US-Israel Strategic Consultative Group (SCG) to consult on a series of issues in the wake of Iran’s unprecedented missile and drone attack against Israel. The Israeli side was led by Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer and National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi.”

“The discussion began in a small group format to discuss the Iran attack and the collective efforts to further enhance Israel’s defense through advanced capabilities as well as cooperation with a broad coalition of military partners. Mr. Sullivan also briefed the Israeli side on new sanctions and other measures that began today, in coordination with Congress and G7 capitals, following on the President’s call with G7 leaders held the morning after Iran’s attack,” it said.

On the issue of Rafah, the White House statement said, “The two sides agreed on the shared objective to see Hamas defeated in Rafah. US participants expressed concerns with various courses of action in Rafah, and Israeli participants agreed to take these concerns into account and to have further follow up discussions between experts, overseen by the SCG. Participants will meet again soon.”

Earlier this week, officials told CNN that Israel was set to begin its operation against the last Hamas battalions in the Gaza Strip this week, but delayed the operation following Iran's massive attack over the weekend.

According to the report, the IDF had planned to begin dropping leaflets over Rafah on Monday to warn civilians of the impending operation, but ultimately did not do so.

On Thursday, Egyptian sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the US agreed to accept Israel's plan for an operation in Rafah - so long as Israel does not carry out a widescale strike on Iranian soil.

According to the sources, Egypt raised its alert level following a lengthy conversation with Israel and the understanding that the IDF is carrying out intensive preparations for a widescale operation in the area.