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US to be held responsible if Israel invades Rafah: Palestinian Authority

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas heads a leadership meeting at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (AP file photo)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas says  an Israeli ground invasion of Rafah would be “the biggest catastrophe” in the Palestinian people’s history, urging the United States to stop the occupying regime from attacking Gaza’s southernmost city.

Abbas made the remarks at a special meeting of the World Economic Forum in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Sunday, warning that he expects Israel to invade Rafah "within days" as fears are rising that the regime will soon launch an assault on the city.

The Palestinian president went on to say that "all of Gaza" has been crammed into Rafah which borders Egypt, stressing that only a “small strike” would force most of the Palestinian population that are sheltering there to flee.

"We especially call upon the United States of America to request Israel to hold its fire, because the US is the only country that can prevent Israel from perpetrating this crime,” Abbas said.

"Israel needs someone to force it to stop, to convince Israel that this is unacceptable, and the only country in the world that can do that, and which we hold responsible, is the United States of America," he added.

Abbas further reiterated that he rejects the displacement of Palestinians into Jordan and Egypt, saying he’s concerned once Israel completes its operation in Gaza, it will attempt to force the Palestinian population out of the occupied West Bank.

Rafah, housing more than 1.2 million Palestinians, is the last major population center in the Gaza Strip that Israeli troops have yet to invade and also the main point of entry for desperately needed relief supplies.

Earlier this month, Israel’s Benny Gantz said the regime will proceed with the ground invasion of Rafah.

Israel is facing tremendous international pressure to end its campaign of death and destruction in Gaza and allow more humanitarian aid into the blockaded territory.

Several countries, the United States included, have urged Israel to abandon plans for the Rafah operation.

This is while more than 20 universities in the US and several others in Europe are protesting against the Washington-backed Israeli onslaught, which has killed over 34,000 people since October last year.

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