John Kirby
John KirbyREUTERS/Jim Bourg

White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters on Tuesday that Sunday’s air strike in Rafah did not cross President Joe Biden's red line.

“We don’t want to see a major ground operation, we haven’t seen that at this point,” Kirby said in Tuesday’s press briefing when asked how this attack does not cross the president’s red line, as quoted by CNN.

Kirby added that he had “no policy changes to speak to” when asked if this strike would change policy, but emphasized that this strike “just happened.”

The comments follow an Israeli strike in Rafah on Sunday in which two senior Hamas terrorists were eliminated, but which Hamas claimed killed dozens of Gazans who fled their homes and were housed in a nearby tent.

On Monday, a US official said that Israel has told the Biden administration that it used a precision munition to hit the target in Rafah, but shrapnel from the explosion ignited a fuel tank nearby and started a fire that engulfed a camp for Gazans who fled their homes and led to dozens of deaths.

On Tuesday, the IDF released a recording of a conversation between two Gazans who said that the deadly blast on Sunday was in fact caused by a Hamas ammunition warehouse.

When asked on Tuesday whether the president has seen some of the images from Rafah over the weekend, Kirby said he could not speak on that but that the president has been “kept apprised throughout the weekend.”

Pressed on whether Israel tanks seen in central Rafah constitute a major ground operation, Kirby pointed to comments from the Israelis saying that they are operating in Rafah in a “targeted” and “precise” way.

“That's what the Israelis have said, we're not on the ground,” Kirby told reporters.

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

However, a senior Biden administration official said last week that Israel has addressed many of Biden's concerns over its operation in the Rafah.