Gallant and Blinken
Gallant and BlinkenAriel Hermoni, Defense Ministry

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke on Sunday with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said that Blinken “affirmed the ironclad US commitment to Israel’s security and the shared objective of the defeat of Hamas” and the two “discussed the situation in Gaza and ongoing efforts to secure the release of hostages.

“The Secretary reaffirmed the US opposition to a major military ground operation in Rafah, where over one million people have taken shelter,” Miller added.

Blinken “underscored the urgent need to protect civilians and aid workers in Gaza and urged the Minister to ensure assistance can move into Gaza and help address distribution challenges inside of Gaza as Israel pursues Hamas targets,” the statement concluded.

The conversation between Blinken and Gallant followed an earlier conversation between US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart Tzachi Hanegbi ahead of Israel’s Memorial Day.

The issue of Rafah came up in that conversation as well, with Sullivan reiterating “President Biden’s longstanding concerns over the potential for a major military ground operation into Rafah, where over one million people have taken shelter. He discussed alternative courses of action to ensure the defeat of Hamas everywhere in Gaza.”

Hanegbi, said the statement, “confirmed that Israel is taking US concerns into account. Mr. Sullivan and Mr. Hanegbi then reviewed the substantive discussions to date of the Strategic Consultative Group. They agreed to establish another in-person meeting soon.”

The US has long been vocal in its opposition to an Israeli operation in Rafah. Last Wednesday, Biden warned that he would halt shipments of American weapons to Israel if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu orders a major invasion of the city of Rafah.

Speaking to CNN, Biden said that while the US would continue to provide defensive weapons to Israel, including for its Iron Dome air defense system, other shipments would end should a major ground invasion of Rafah begin.

On Friday, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that the US is watching Israel's operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah with concern and wants the Rafah crossing reopened immediately.

Earlier on Sunday, Blinken claimed in an interview on CBS that Hamas will remain a problem in Gaza no matter what Israel does in Rafah, where the IDF is preparing to destroy the last four Hamas battalions.

According to Blinken, without a plan for the day after the war, Israel “will be left holding the bag on an enduring insurgency because a lot of armed Hamas [terrorists] will be left, no matter what they do in Rafah.”

Blinken stated that whatever "initial success" Israel has in Rafah would not be worth it due to the "high cost to civilians."