U.S. officials describe animated Dermer in Rafah talks

Sources tell news network Strategic Affairs Minister exhibits strong emotion in virtual meeting with Blinken and Sullivan, as they question feasibility of Israel's plan to protect civilians during an IDF offensive on Gaza's southern-most city

Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer became visibly animated, waving his hands in the air and raising his voice, in a recent video call with top U.S. officials to discuss Israel's planned offensive on Rafah, U.S. officials told NBC on Wednesday.
Dermer's visible agitation came as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Binken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan questioned the feasibility of Israel's plan to safeguard the lives of the 1.4 million civilians sheltering there after being evacuated from the fighting in other parts of the Gaza Strip.

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רון דרמר בביקור בארה"ב
רון דרמר בביקור בארה"ב
Ron Dermer during US visit
The call, which also included seven or more senior U.S. officials from the State Department and the Pentagon, became contentious when the Americans voiced their opposition to the Israeli plan, claiming it did not address health considerations and the need to supply adequate food and water.
Despite Dermer's apparent outbursts, the American officials remained composed, according to the NBC report. They said that the Israelis appeared to have only considered a portion of the resources to finance the multitude of tents the move would necessitate.
The officials told the network that Dermer had often exhibited 'passionate' responses during meetings with members of the administration and said the tense call early in the week, was no different from other interactions between the two governments. Another source said the meeting was 'constructive', aimed at initiating a series of discussions on how Israel could sustain its campaign against Hamas.
The officials revealed that Dermer and Hanegbi did not go into specifics about an actual ground invasion of Rafah, as these details were scheduled to be discussed more thoroughly during an upcoming meeting between the parties next week. An Israeli official who was present at the virtual meeting contested the report's accuracy. "The meeting was constructive and respectful, even during the arguments. There were no shouts at any stage." U.S. National Security Council refrained from commenting.
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(Photo: Reuters)
National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, said the primary objective of the meeting was to address the U.S. reservations regarding an extensive ground operation in Rafah and to introduce viable alternatives for a more succinct and accurate approach. This discussion was convened after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put a halt to the visit by Dermer and Hanegbi to Washington after the U.S. failed to veto the UN Security Council's resolution, which called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza during Ramadan.
Netanyahu criticized the U.S. for straying from its previous stance, asserting that "This deviation not only undermines the war effort but also the attempts to free the captives, as it instills in Hamas the hope that international pressure will enable them to secure a ceasefire without having to release our captives." The delegation, which was given the green light in response to a request from U.S. President Joe Biden, was slated to be led by Dermer and Hanegbi, with the aim of "facilitating the continuation of the war" in the Gaza Strip.
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