Joe Biden

On-the-Record Press Gaggle by White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby

May 09, 2024

Via Teleconference

11:39 A.M. EDT

MODERATOR: Hi, everyone. Thanks for joining us. Kirby, I think, has a few things to say at the top, and then we'll go straight into questions. Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: Hey, everybody. I -- I know what is on everybody's mind, so just give me a couple of minutes here to -- to open up the conversation.

The President and his team have been clear for several weeks that we do not support a major ground operation in Rafah where more than a million people are (inaudible) safe to go.

The President has said that publicly and he has communicated that repeatedly and straightforwardly to Prime Minister Netanyahu. We proposed alternative methods of defeating Hamas that do not involve a major ground operation in Rafah. Those conversations with the Israeli government are ongoing. The President said yesterday that if Israel in fact proceeds with a major ground operation in Rafah, he will not provide certain categories of weapons to support such an operation. The Israeli government has understood this for some time now.

He also said yesterday that he will continue to ensure that Israel has all of the military means it needs to defend itself against all of its enemies, including Hamas. For him, this is very straightforward. He's going to continue to provide Israel with capabilities (inaudible), but he does not want certain categories of American weapons used in a particular type of operation in a particular place. And again, he's been clear and he's been consistent on that.

As the President said, Israel has not yet launched such an operation. So, he was talking about what would happen in the future if they did. That's a choice that Israel will have to make, and it's one we hope they don't.

We're going to keep working with them, on our part, to develop alternative approaches that we think will have a better chance of strategic success, a better chance at eliminating the threat that the Israeli people still face from Hamas.

The President (inaudible) we have held a shipment of high-payload bombs, as we discussed with Israel our concerns about the use of those kinds of bombs in dense environs.

More broadly, the President has tasked his team to continue to work with Israel to refine their strategy to inflict an enduring defeat on Hamas. And I want to repeat that. An enduring defeat on Hamas certainly remains the Israeli goal, and we share that goal with them.

Smashing into Rafah, in his view, will not advance that objective, will not get to that sustainable, enduring defeat of Hamas. But there are many things that we can do together that will, including doing everything we can to help Israel make sure that the border between Gaza and Egypt can't be used for the smuggling of arms and weapons into Hamas.

We could also, in fact, help them target the leaders, including Mr. Sinwar, which we are, frankly, doing with the Israelis on an ongoing basis.

We can also work towards standing up an alternative governance structure to Hamas, because, as we've said many times before, whatever post-conflict Gaza looks like, it can't look like what it does now with Hamas in control.

And then also working with the Israelis to create safe spaces with shelter, sanitation, food, water, medical facilities, and medical supplies, and medical personnel for people that are currently in Rafah -- someplace safe where they can go.

All those things are alternatives that we have been pursuing with our Israeli counterparts, as opposed to some sort of major ground operation in Rafah.

And the last thing I'll say before I turn it over is: Those conversations are still happening. They will continue to happen. We are still working inside the Strategic Consultative Group framework to make sure that Israel can, again, reach its goal, reach its objectives, but do it in a way that avoids further civilian casualties and further loss of civilian infrastructure.

The arguments that somehow we're walking away from Israel fly in the face of the facts. I mean, this is a president who visited Israel within days of the October 7th attacks. This is a president who rushed additional military articles to Israel and, frankly, provided expertise from our own military to go over there to help them as they thought through their planning and their operation (inaudible).

And this is a president who put American pilots -- fighter pilots -- in the sky to help shoot down more than 300 missiles and drones fired by Iran in mid- -- mid-April.

So the argument that somehow we're walking away from Israel, we're not willing to help them defeat Hamas just doesn't -- doesn't comport with the facts. And I think that's an important thing to -- to end on.

And now we can take some questions.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our first question will go to Trevor with Reuters.

Q: Hey. Thanks for doing this. Do you have any detail on how long the hold on weapons that we're seeing might last? And do you expect that the -- that we're going to see a few more types or categories of weapons? You know, in the coming weeks, are you going to pause and wait and see Israel goes into Rafah fully?

MR. KIRBY: To your second question, Trevor, it's really more the latter. As I said in my opening statement, Israel has to make its decisions. We understand that, and we'll have to make ours based on what they do.

We hope they don't make those kinds of decisions to go into Rafah, but I think the President was crystal clear last night that if they do smash into Rafah, go in (inaudible) in a major way, then he's going to have to make future decisions. But again, we hope -- we hope it doesn't come to that. (Inaudible) Israel's decision-making right now.

And as for your first question, I don't have a timeline to give you. As I said, this was a delay, a pause in the shipment of these 2,000-pound bombs. But as Secretary Austin said yesterday, no final decisions have been made, and a lot is going to depend, I think -- to answer your question about the length -- a lot is going to depend on what we see Israel do in -- in Rafah and in their planning for Rafah.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will go to Aamer with the AP.

Q: Hey, thank you both. And I apologize -- I missed a little bit at the top, and I apologize if you answered this already. But did the President tell the Prime Minister about the hold-up on the bombs in their call this week? And has the -- thus far, has the U.S. seen any indication that this hold-up has changed Israeli calculus at all about going into Rafah?

MR. KIRBY: I'm not going to get into the diplomatic conversations between the President and the Prime Minister any more than we've already done with respect to their calls.

I can tell you that -- as I said in my opening statement, that the President has repeatedly and steadfastly communicated to Prime Minister Netanyahu our (inaudible) about the potential invasion or major ground operations in Rafah and what that would mean for him and his own decision (inaudible).

So, he -- he has been very consistent with the Prime Minister, but I won't get into the back-and-forth on any one particular call. I think you can understand I'm going to protect the confidentiality of the conversation.

I think it's too soon to know, on your second question, about whether this -- this pause has changed their calculus. We're in touch with the Israelis. Again, they know where we stand on this. They certainly know where the President stands on this. And they'll have to make their own decisions. And -- and I don't want to get ahead of where we are right now.

MODERATOR: Our next question will go to J.J. with Bloomberg.

Q: Hey, John. On Hezbollah. Is there any sort of an update you can give us on U.S. efforts to quell the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel? That's my first question.

And then, secondly, on U.S. Steel. There are some senators who are calling for Biden to exercise his presidential authority to either suspend the sale or prohibit the sale altogether of U.S. steel to Japan's Nippon. Is there any reaction you'd be willing to share on that? And do you agree with them that the President does possess the authority to (inaudible) the sale unilaterally? Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: I don't really have an update on Hezbollah. I'll tell you what I'm going to do. I'll reach out and talk to some of our folks on the NSC that are tracking that a lot more closely than I am and see if we can't you a better answer.

The only thing I would say is that we continue to strongly believe that it's -- not Israel's interest and not in the region's interest for a full-blown second front to open up there in the North and then we have been engaged actively and energetically diplomatically with leaders in Israel and, of course, in Lebanon to try to prevent that outcome. That remains priority.

But I don't have a specific update for you. So, you're just going to have to excuse me on this one, and I'll see if we can't get you a better answer.

On the -- your question (inaudible). I still I'm not seeing this communication(inaudible). Again, let me -- let me take that question and come back to you.

The only thing I would add is the President remains determined to make sure that U.S. Steel stays in American hands, as he has said. And that's -- that's the goal he's going to continue to pursue.

But, as for the particulars of that pursuit, to your question, I'll have to get back to you.

Q: Okay, thanks.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will go to Alex with CNN.

Q: Hi, guys. Thanks so much for doing this. John, how do you think the Rafah operation so far has impacted the ceasefire talks? Of course, Israel argues that it adds pressure to -- on Hamas. And if you would mind commenting on the report that in the negotiations, Israel has wanted to wall off Rafah and be allowed to continue their operations in Rafah while a ceasefire would happen.

And could you just characterize where you think the talks stand now that we've seen the CIA Director and other parties leave Cairo? Are they still at the working level? Do you think they have fallen apart? Can you speak to the biggest sticking points?


MR. KIRBY: There's a lot there. Our view is that Rafah operations -- certainly any kind of major Rafah ground operation would actually strengthen Hamas's hands at the negotiating table, not Israel's. That's our view.

I -- in just terms of -- I think I'm -- I don't know if I understood your second question correctly. But you asked me something about the Israelis wanting to wall off Rafah operations from the talks. You mean that -- you mean that if there was a ceasefire in place that they would still be able to operate in Rafah? Is that what you're asking?

Q: Yes, that there would be a ceasefire effectively in the rest of Gaza and Rafah. That's according to (inaudible).

MR. KIRBY: A temporary ceasefire -- the ceasefire that we've been working for -- the ceasefire that would give us six weeks of calm is six weeks of calm in all of Gaza. That -- that is the negotiating position that we've been pursuing, and I'm not aware that the Israelis have changed their view of that either -- that if we were to get a temporary ceasefire, it would -- it would mean a ceasefire across all of Gaza, including Rafah.

And then, on the status of where we are, yes, Director Burns is departing the region as previously scheduled, but interlocutors from other delegations are still in discussions in Cairo. So, those talks are still going on. His departure does not connote the end of the current round of negotiations.

And obviously, we're going to stay in touch with those interlocutors. We're not going to take our eye off of this. We're going to stay engaged in the hopes that we might be able to land something

MODERATOR: Thank you our next question, we'll go to Nick with PBS.

Q: Hey, John, question about -- a weapons question and humanitarian question. And I apologize, might use an acronym in the weapons question.

So, the Israelis in the last few hours have been arguing this -- that they have more so-called "dumb bombs" -- non-PGMs -- than guidance kits. And because of that, pausing these weapons, especially the mention of the JDAM kits, that will make any operation less precise than it would have been. So, they're essentially blaming you for future civilian casualties. Can you respond to that?

And then, today, given the lack of fuel or the impending running out of fuel in Rafah, are you pushing Israel to allow fuel into Rafah as the U.N. is pushing (inaudible)? And has (inaudible) changed any kind of discussion about humanitarian aid going into Rafah?


MR. KIRBY: Look, I haven't seen those comments that you're referring to in terms of the (inaudible) kits. I just haven't seen that, so I'm not going to -- I don't want to get into a tit-for-tat with some anonymous Israeli officials here. And I haven't seen their comments or the context of it.

The President made it clear last night that these high-payload bombs, delivering them when we were seeing things, preps for major operation in Rafah, and certainly rhetoric around that -- that gave him concern and gave him pause to actually pause that shipment.

But I think I need to leave it there because I have not seen this comment, and I certainly don't have some innate sense of visibility into their inventory of, quote, unquote, "dumb bombs" and (inaudible) kits.

But I think the larger point is, Nick, that we've been very clear publicly with all of you and privately with the Israelis that we don't support them going into Rafah in a big way when you have more than a million people whose -- literally their lives are at risk and there's no place for them to go right now.

And as the President expressed in his interview last night, the use of that particular type of weapons gave him great concern based on what we were seeing and hearing coming from the Israeli side.

So, again, as I said in the opening statement, we're going to be watching what the Israelis do here and what their decision-making looks like going forward.

On fuel. Fuel has been something we have consistently pressed the Israelis to continue to get into Gaza almost from the very get-go when they -- when they shut off fuel.

And fuel -- like food, water, medicine -- that has flowed in -- has flowed in at different rates and different quantities. We need to -- we want to see it continued. We want to see it sustained. We want to see it get into Gaza at a level that supports the sustenance needs for the Gazan people.

So, if the answer (inaudible) fuel in -- if the question is (inaudible) then the answer is yes.

Q: Sorry, but -- just to be specific, Rafah is obviously closed right now. The U.N. is saying they're negotiating to get fuel into Rafah right now today before it runs out in Rafah. I was trying to be more specific to the Rafah Crossing and fuel coming in there.

MR. KIRBY: We wants to see -- we want to see all humanitarian assistance continue (inaudible) over the Rafah Crossing, as soon as possible, and that includes fuel. So, food, water, medicine, and fuel getting across Rafah as soon as possible. It's -- as we've said before, it's unacceptable that the crossing is still closed. It needs to get open. It needs to open right away. And, of course, the delivery of fuel, in addition to everything else.

Sorry, I misunderstood the question.

But the short answer to -- that's a very long-winded and word salad answer to your question, which is: yes, we want to see fuel get into Rafah.

More critically though, Nick, we want to see the Rafah Crossing opened up now. And then, I think I -- I think I -- by that word salad I gave you, I think I answered your third one on humanitarian assistance, but you've told me if I didn't.

Q: Well, I think just whether -- whether your pausing weapons has reduced any leverage when you pushed the Israelis to allow humanitarian assistance in.

MR. KIRBY: So, I think it's important to remember what happened here. Everybody keeps talking about pausing weapons shipments. Weapons shipments are still going to Israel. They're still getting the vast, vast majority of everything that they need to defend themselves. And the President said so last night in that interview with Erin Burnett.

And we've also committed to and will continue to commit to spending every dime of the supplemental request that we got from Congress to get them the capabilities they need. I mentioned that in my opening statement.

So, there's no -- there is no weapons shipment cut-off here. What we have done today is pause the delivery shipment of 2,000-pound bombs, which were -- oh, by the way -- budgeted for before October 7th. We paused that -- the President paused that because of concerns that he was having over Rafah.

(Inaudible) at all that this discussion with the Israelis about Rafah and what they will do or what they won't do or what they need to defend themselves on humanitarian assistance. And I would note that in the wake of the early April phone call with Prime Minister Netanyahu, in the wake of the World Central Kitchen bombing, the President secured for Prime Minister Netanyahu an increase in humanitarian assistance. And largely speaking, that increase has been met. They have opened up additional (inaudible).

And there were times in which, over the last several weeks, where they were getting in hundreds of trucks a day. I remember one day over 400. So, they have made a commitment to increase that humanitarian assistance.

Now, there's been some (inaudible) here lately. They've cut off Rafah because of its operation down by the crossing. And as I said earlier, we want to get that open. And at Kerem Shalom, there's still conflicting reports. That crossing, we think, is technically open, but there hasn't been a flow. We're still trying to get ground (inaudible). And that's concerning. We want to see that that flow continue right away.

So, I'm not diminishing the challenges of late in getting humanitarian assistance in. But there has been an increase, and there's no reason why that increase cannot continue or shouldn't continue regardless of the conversations we're having about Rafah.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will go to Tamara with NPR.

Q: Hi there. Hoping you can hear me. A couple of questions. You know, a couple of days ago, you were pretty optimistic about the ceasefire talks and the ability to break through. Is it fair to say you're less optimistic now?

And then, I was hoping to get you to expand on something you said. You said, "Our view is that Rafah operations -- certainly, any kind of major Rafah ground operation -- would actually strengthen Hamas's hands at the negotiating table, not Israel's." Why would that be how -- just spell that out some more.

MR. KIRBY: Because if I'm Mr. Sinwar, and I'm sitting down in my tunnel, where I think that's where he is, and I'm seeing innocent people falling victim to major significant combat operations in Rafah, then I have less and less incentive to want to come to the negotiating table and deal. I can cast Israel in the worst possible way because of the way they're behaving. And I can just say, "Well, clearly they're not interested in a good-faith way to get to a ceasefire. Look at what they're doing inside Rafah." It just gives him more ammunition for his twisted narrative here. That's what I mean by that.

And, on the optimism, what I said the other day was our assessment of the text as it was written, as it had been (inaudible), gives us reason to believe that there should be no reason why those remaining gaps could be closed.

And I won't speak for Director Burns, but I know he went into his discussions in Cairo with that in mind -- that the text was close enough that those gaps could have been closed.

Now, clearly, they have not been closed, as you and I are speaking, Tam. And Director Burns is on his way back home. That doesn't mean, though, that there aren't still ongoing conversations. The teams are still in Cairo. And it doesn't mean we're giving up hope.

We still believe that that there's a path forward, but it's going to take -- you know, it's going to take some leadership on both sides. And it's going to take a little bit of moral courage on both sides to finally be able to come across that table and ink this deal.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will go to Gabe with NBC.

Q: Hi there, John. Thanks. You say that the President has been consistent. But the fact is the President's comments yesterday were much sharper than anything we've heard before. So, what would you say to critics of the war who listen to the President's acknowledgement that U.S. bombs have been used to kill civilians -- they hear that and they argue that there have been violations of international law? That's the first question.

And the second one is on humanitarian aid. The U.S.-built pier in Gaza -- I know it's not operational yet, but humanitarian aid is already heading there from Cyprus, we understand, to be pre-positioned. What's the latest on the timing of when that pier might be operational?

Thanks, John.

MR. KIRBY: I would refer to the Pentagon on that. I think they're briefing this afternoon, and they're expected to talk about this. I don't want to get ahead of where they are, in terms of the timing.

As you know, the pier is basically constructed. They had some weather delays. And now they have to -- as I said earlier, once you can do it safely, get it in place, anchored to the seabed; construct the causeway; and then start to make sure -- test it for operational capability.

But the Pentagon will have a much better sense on that, Gabe, than me. And I -- I certainly don't want to get ahead of them.

On your first question. I would submit to you that you all don't hear the -- everything that the President says to Prime Minister Netanyahu. And I can assure you the direct and forthright nature with which he expressed himself and his concerns in that interview with Erin Burnett is consistent with how he has expressed himself to Prime Minister Netanyahu and to Israeli officials.

Q: Thank you, John.

MODERATOR: Thank you, our next question will go to Karen with the Washington Post.

Q: Thank you. You know, in the past, we've asked a lot about what assistance the United States has given (inaudible) and what (inaudible) happening on the ground. You just said that: What we can do to help Israel avoid a major military operation in Rafah is to make sure the border between Egypt and Israel can't be used for the smuggling of weapons into Hamas. We can also help them target leaders, including Sinwar, which we are doing on an ongoing basis.

My question is: Is this a -- are these efforts an expansion on what the United States has been doing in the past in terms of targeting? And what can you do to help secure the border with Egypt?

MR. KIRBY: For reasons I hope you understand, I'm not going to get into the ways in which we are -- specific ways in which we are helping Israel with their counterterrorism efforts. I think you know, Karen, we have a long, long, and solid relationship on the counterterrorism front with Israel, which includes intelligence-sharing and includes operational lessons learned and other means of cooperation.

I don't want to -- I don't want you to take away from this that we are somehow directly involved in combat operations. We are not. But our support for Israel in other ways with respect to (inaudible) goals continues, and there's a strong foundation for that cooperation built up over many, many years.

And on helping seal off the border, again, you should not take away from that that U.S. military would be involved in anything like that. But that -- but that we are having active conversations with the Israelis about how they can best address that need.

And you can see some of the fruits of those exact discussions. The answer to your question in some ways is laid before your very eyes when you look at what the Israelis are doing right now at the Rafah Crossing.

And as the President said last night, that kind of operation does not connote to us -- what we're seeing right now does not connote to us some sort of major ground operation, but it is in keeping with the spirit of the conversations that we've been having with the Israelis now for a few weeks about how to pressure Hamas inside Rafah, how to go after some of them there and make it harder for them to operate in Rafah in ways that don't require smashing in there, invading in there, major ground operations.

Now, again, we'll have to see where this goes. The Israelis have told us that this is exactly what they're doing. It's limited. It's precise. It's going to be a short duration. We'll have to continue to monitor that. But what you're seeing on the ground is a piece of the kinds of alternatives and the kinds of discussions that we've been having with the Isrealis.

Q: But my -- just to clarify that, you've been asked many times about whether the United States was providing targeting assistance for Hamas leaders in Gaza, and you've declined to answer. And now you're saying that we are providing targeting information. And I'm asking if --

MR. KIRBY: No, that is not what I said. That's not what I said, Karen. I said I'm not going to get into the details for operational security of how we assist in counterterrorism. I'm not going to do that. I did not say we're helping them with specific targeting.

Q: You said, "We can also help them target leaders, including Sinwar, which we are doing on an ongoing basis."

MR. KIRBY: We can help with -- we can help with setting the conditions for them to -- to continue to go after Hamas leadership, And, again, we've got terrific counterterrorism cooperation with them.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will go to Kelly with News Nation.

Q: Hi, guys. Thanks for taking my question. I was wondering what would -- I know the President saying that they would withhold the offensive weapons if there is a major ground operation in Rafah. What would that look like? What would be a major operation that he would withhold this aid?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, I've been asked this question before, and I'm not going to give you a set of criteria. I think we all understand what a major ground operation looks like in terms of the size of the forces involved, the kinds of operations that that would connote: large forces, large movements, a lot of civilian casualties, a lot of damage to infrastructure -- as opposed to more precise, more targeted, more limited kinds of operations, quite frankly, like we are seeing right now down at the Rafah Crossing. And I think I'll leave it at that.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will go to Alex with Politico.

Q: Quick question -- or two of them. One is: Since the U.S. will still be providing, you know, billions in aid -- military aid to the Israelis, is the belief that just the threat of not sending these bombs and artillery shells -- that's going to be enough to convince Netanyahu not to go forward? That's one.

And then, two, just sort of more broadly: Why draw the line here at Rafah? I get that there's, you know, a million-plus Palestinians that have had to go there. But if the goal was, you know, we could -- the U.S. can help with the stopping smuggling and Sinwar and all these things, why not withhold the bombs and artillery shells before other cities in Gaza were flattened?

MR. KIRBY: I think, first, we were obviously making sure, over the last seven months, that Israel had what it needed to deal with a very immediate, viable threat. And we did that.

And what you're seeing out of the President's thinking lately is -- regards the sheer size of the population that is now assembled in Rafah and the concerns in time and space that we have when we hear the Israelis speak about going into Rafah in a potentially big way with more than a million people seeking refuge there.

And I think that's -- that's really what's driving this. And again, I would reiterate that we have been consistent in supporting Israel and what their needs are, including now. I mean, we're still supporting Israel's defensive capabilities, making sure that they have what they need to defend themselves. That has not changed.

Q: Very quickly -- I mean, you mentioned the President's mind changed, of course, you know, as the situation in Rafah unfolded. I mean, what was it about the other cities that were destroyed or Israel's operations earlier that didn't necessarily (inaudible)?

I get that you (inaudible) consistent on that. But it's not like there hasn't been civilian strikes throughout. And I get that you've been helping them humanitarian aid, but this threat could have been made much earlier. Could it not? I mean, that's the part that I'm struggling to understand.

MR. KIRBY: They have (inaudible). Early on in the conflict, Hamas didn't feel and didn't -- hadn't suffered the kinds of pressure and the kinds of casualties that they have suffered now. There has been enormous amount of pressure put on Hamas. They have eliminated a lot of the leaders through the fighting that they have conducted over the last several months. They have decimated the ranks of many of their units.

Hamas is not the (inaudible) what it was six months ago and -- as a result of the pressure that the Israelis have put on it. And this idea that we haven't used leverage or that we haven't put pressure on Israel to avoid civilian casualties until just now, again, flies in the face of facts.

We have -- we have absolutely been making it clear to Israel that civilian casualties had to come down and that damage to civilian infrastructure had to stop.

And they had responded to many of those -- many of those concerns, and humanitarian assistance did increase. So, the idea that we didn't use leverage or that we didn't try to get things that are better to place before now is just not true.

But what you're seeing now is a reflection of the deep concern over Rafah specifically with, again, such a huge population -- a million and a half people -- all in one very, very confined space.

And why are they in that confined space? Because they fled operations further to north in Gaza City and in Khan Younis. And that's what's driving this.

Q: So, again, just to put a finer point on it. And I know I'm overstepping, but it sounds like the United States assesses that Hamas has been defeated enough that you can now make this kind of weapons threat to the Israelis?

MR. KIRBY: We believe that they have put enormous amount of pressure on Hamas, and that there are better ways to go after what is left of Hamas in Rafah than a major ground operation.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Our next question will go to Danny with AFP. Danny, you should be able to unmute yourself

Q: Sorry about that. Thanks, Admiral. So, you've said about you know, we'll know (inaudible) --

MODERATOR: Danny, you're breaking up a little.

Q: I'm sorry. Let me try again. Our correspondents on the ground in Rafah are reporting that tanks and jets are already striking and Rafah and there are still civilian deaths happening. So, isn't there a danger that Israel just keeps pushing and pushing just sort of a kind of red line and that civilians will continue to die, as they already are?

MR. KIRBY: Of course, that's -- we're concerned about that potential, which is why we've made the decisions that we've made. (Inaudible) that we've had with the Israelis. (Inaudible.)

And it is (inaudible) towards bigger in Rafah, the preps we were seeing (inaudible) Tel Aviv that gave the President pause and why he expressed himself the way that he did both, again, privately to the Prime Minister and publicly.

Q: So, where will you draw the line, though, between the two -- you know, between the current -- do you see what I mean? I mean, where is that line drawn? I know you've been asked that question.

MR. KIRBY: Look, I think -- I think the President made it clear last night. And I -- there's no way I can improve upon the way he put it. If they go into Rafah in a big way, he will make other decisions about the kind of support that we are providing Israe.

And as I said in my opening statement, we hope it doesn't come to that. We hope that Israel won't do that. We hope that they will do what they've said they're going to do to us and what they've said to us about what they're going to do (inaudible) Rafah, which is something of limited scale, scope, size, and duration with respect to (inaudible) down there.

It's important right now that we see that operation come to a close soon and that we get that crossing back (inaudible).

Q: Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah.

MODERATOR: And that seems to be all the time we have. If you have any questions, as always, reach out to (inaudible) and we will get back to you as soon as we can.

Thanks, everyone.

12:17 P.M. EDT

Joseph R. Biden, On-the-Record Press Gaggle by White House National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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