Via Teleconference

1:19 P.M. EDT

MODERATOR: Hi, everyone. Thanks so much for joining us today for our on-the-record gaggle with Mr. John Kirby, who’s our NSC — I always mess up your title, sir, sorry — (laughs) — communications advisor.

He’s going to start with a brief topper, and then we’ll go ahead and get to your questions.

MR. KIRBY: Good afternoon, everybody. I do want to bring your attention to some good news today on how we’re modernizing our military, supporting Ukraine, and creating new American jobs.

Today, the Secretary of the Army is in Mesquite, Texas, for the opening of a new factory that will significantly increase our country’s ability to manufacture parts that are used to produce artillery ammunition.

Using funding that the Biden administration has requested and that Congress has approved, including in our supplemental, the Department of Defense has contracted with General Dynamics to stand up new production lines as part of a national effort to significantly increase the number of artillery shells that we produce every month.

Now, as many of you all know, artillery shells have been an absolutely critical munition for the war in Ukraine and for our ability to provide artillery to Ukraine alongside our allies and partners. And these 155-millimeter shells, and, of course, the guns that go with them, have absolutely made a significant impact on Ukraine’s ability to repel Russian attacks. They have been particularly important in the eastern part of the country, the Donbas, open farmland, where what you want is try to arrange behind the enemy lines. And in many cases around that part of the country, over the last year or more, it’s literally been a gunfight. And these 155 [mm] shells and those in the tubes that go with them, they are the guns, and they matter.

When Russia invaded Ukraine back in ‘22, the United States was producing about 14,000 155-millimeter artillery shells every month. Thanks to investments that the President has made to increase our production in Mesquite and at plants across the country, we’re already now more than — have already more than doubled that number, and we expect to double it again. We’re on track to manufacture 100,000 155-millimeter artillery shells per month by the end of next year.

Increasing our production capability and building these new production lines improves our own military readiness as well. And it’s critical, of course, to support Ukraine.

Revitalizing our defense industrial base and increasing production has been a top priority here at the White House, for the President, for National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan. And as a matter of fact, Jake has regularly convened meetings with the Defense Department and with industry leaders to discuss how to increase production. And at his direction, the NSC worked with the Department of Commerce to organize the Ukraine Defense Industrial Base Summit back in December to explore opportunities for co-production between the United States and Ukrainian defense industrial bases and to significantly increase weapon production.

And of course, Jake has spent a significant amount of time over the last two years calling on foreign counterparts, as have Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin and many others, to obtain commitments from our allies and partners to send 155-millimeter artillery shells to Ukraine as we wrap up our own production and support Ukraine’s fight for freedom.

During that six months we didn’t have a supplemental, had limited to no ability to support Ukraine, many of our allies and partners did just that. And 155-millimeter shells was one of the things that they kept flowing to the Ukrainians.

So this is very good news today and indicative of the sincerity with which we want to support Ukraine but also to support our own defense industrial base here at home. And of course, it also helps support jobs in places like Mesquite, Texas.

With that, we can take some questions.

MODERATOR: Awesome. First up, we will go to Zeke Miller. Zeke, you should be able to unmute yourself.

Q Thanks, John. I was hoping you’d be able to address (inaudible) today out of the east. First, word that Israel’s military is saying it seized control of that Philadelphi corridor between Gaza and Egypt. Is that consistent with what the Israelis have briefed you on about their planning? And does that — is that consistent with the limited ground operation that you’ve been talking about?

Separately, the Israeli national security advisor said the war will at least last through the end of the year. Is that acceptable to the United States?

And then lastly, do you have any updates or any additional briefings from the Israelis to the U.S. government about the specific ammunition used or the potential cause of that — potential secondary explosion from that strike on Sunday that killed the civilians in Rafah? Thank you.

MR. KIRBY: There’s an awful lot there.

I can’t — as you know, I won’t, Zeke — I’m not going to talk about IDF operations in any kind of detail. They should detail what they’re doing on the ground. We’re not there. It’s not our op.

That said, as I said yesterday, when they briefed us on their plans for Rafah, it did include moving along that corridor and out of the city proper to put pressure on Hamas in the city.

So I can’t confirm whether they seized the corridor or not, but I can tell you that their movements along the corridor did not come as a surprise to us and was in keeping with what we understood their plan to be — to go after Hamas in a targeted, limited way, not a concentrated way.

So I don’t know if that answers your question or not, but that’s our understanding.

On the defense minister’s comments about the war lasting until the end of the year: Again, we’ll let Israeli officials speak for themselves and for their assessments. It’s a war they’re fighting. I can tell you that President Biden is committed to seeing that we find a way to end this conflict and to end it as soon as practicable.

We’ve got hostages that are still in the hands of Hamas, and potentially other groups, under horrific circumstances. We got to get them home, and we want to get them home in a deal tied to a ceasefire — a ceasefire that we believe, if put in place, could lead to something more sustainable and a potential end of the conflict. And that’s where President Biden’s head is, trying to get this hostage deal done.

And as you know, or I think you know, another proposal now is on the table, a fresh one, and we are doing everything we can to see if we can’t get that advanced, because it could lead to the ceasefire in a temporary way that could also lead to something more sustained.

So, again, I’ll let the defense minister speak for his own views and opinions. Our view and our opinion is we got to get this hostage deal now. The time is now to do it, to get that temporary ceasefire, and to end this conflict as soon as possible.

On your third question — third set of questions: We do not have any more granularity today than we did yesterday about what caused the explosion and fire that killed those innocent Palestinians in the tent compound. We have been in touch with our Israeli counterparts, again, overnight and today, and we’re trying to get as much information as we can. But I couldn’t tell you honestly that we have clarity on that particular issue. As you know, they’re investigating.

And on the specific weapon: Again, I’m going to be dramatically disappointing to you, Zeke, and to everybody else. We’re not going to speak to individual payload loadouts on individual Israeli aircraft. The IDF should speak to their conduct of this particular operation, and that would include — we would expect in their investigation include the discussion of what was used.

Now, they’ve already said publicly that they used precision-guided munitions. They said that those precision-guided munitions had a payload of about 37 pounds, 17 kilos, which is a pretty small payload to be using. And if it is true that that’s what they used, as I said yesterday, that would certainly indicate a desire to be more deliberate and more precise in their targeting. But again, we need to let their investigation conclude.

MODERATOR: Great, thanks. Next up we’ll take Missy Ryan from the Washington Post. Missy, you should be able to unmute yourself.

Q Yep. Thank you very much. Hi, John. Just wanted to ask again about the pier operation, which I think you addressed a little bit yesterday at the podium. Could you just sort of give your assessment of the expectations for what this operation can add to the situation? I know it’s not meant to replace the ground entries that everybody wants to see. But given the problems and then the pause that we’re seeing after only a week of operations, can you just sort of provide some context on how you guys are looking at what this can add to the need in Gaza? Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah. I mean, as we’ve always said, this is an additive element; it’s not meant to replace the ground routes. Can’t do it. It’s not meant to be a one-size-fits-all kind of operation. But it does have the potential to (inaudible) the capacity of humanitarian assistance that gets into Gaza.

And, you know, one of the goals that I know that we were trying to see come out of the pier was — you know, a thousand pallets or so per day was sort of an initial goal. And we believe that that’s still possible.

The important thing to remember about this temporary pier
is that — is the word “temporary.” It’s not rooted into the seabed with pilings, concrete. You know, it’s held in place by anchoring and by vessels that are adjacent to it, moored to it, keeping it in place. And it’s literally on the water, and it’s in a maritime environment. And weather and maritime conditions absolutely play a role in the stability of the pier and the ability of workers on that pier and truck drivers on that pier to use it.

And in the last week or so, the weather conditions in the eastern Med have not been conducive to safe operation of that pier. We said, even before that pier got on site, that there were going to be challenges, environmental challenges, dealing with it. We also said, once it got operational, on day one, where they got 300 pallets in, that that was just day one and that the initial operating capacity of trying to get three times that much — you know, a thousand or so pallets a day — was going to take some time. And you know what? It’s taken a little bit of time. It’s hard.

This is difficult, complicated work, particularly in a maritime environment that you can’t control. It’s not like on the ground, where you can parcel off a piece of dirt and put a bunch of security around it and kind of claim it and own it. This is water, and it can be an unforgiving environment. And that’s what these guys are facing right now. And I think we all need to keep that in mind.

Nobody said at the outset that this was going to be easy. Nobody said at the outset that it was going to be quick. And nobody at the outset said that it was going to be a panacea for all the humanitarian assistance problems that still exist in Gaza. That said, it is additive. It can be supportive. It can be operational, as we’ve seen it. And as soon as weather conditions permit, you know, resumption of safe operations, and I have no doubt that the Defense Department and our USAID partners will go right at that work. It’s still work worth doing even if it’s difficult.

Q John, can I just follow up on that?

MR. KIRBY: Sure.

Q I mean, do you feel frustrated that, you know, the administration is kind of getting all the scrutiny over the functionality of the pier and you guys are having to put it on ice, sort of, shortly after (inaudible) operating capacity? Given the effort and money that was involved in setting this thing up; given that, as you all describe it, that it’s Israel, your ally, that is failing to properly enable the effective entry and distribution of aid within the corridor, which is the chief problem, do you feel frustrated by that situation?

MR. KIRBY: I think what’s a little frustrating with the pier itself, Missy, is the expectation that there wasn’t — that it was going to be — that it was just going to be easy. I think sometimes there’s an expectation of the U.S. military, because they’re so good, that everything that they touch is just going to turn to gold in an instant. And we knew going in that this was going to be tough stuff, and it has proven to be tough stuff. But it’s not that it can’t be overcome.

So I think if there’s any frustration it’s that people had expectations that — the critics had expectations, not people inside the administration, but external critics had expectations for this that we knew at the outset were not an appropriate set of expectations. But we’re going to keep at it. It still matters.

And as for the ground routes, look, we continue to work diligently with our Israeli counterparts to keep crossings open and to get more aid in through the ground routes. That’s the only way to do this in an effective way by volume and by scale and scope, is on the ground. And we’re going to continue to work with the Israelis to do exactly that.

We’ve had some days of good success getting hundreds of trucks in. We’ve had other days where it is up and is successful again. This is tough stuff. And the President is committed to doing everything we can to increase and sustain humanitarian assistance into some people that are hungry and thirsty and in need of medical care and attention. And that’s what we’re going to do.

It appears — again, why wouldn’t we try this — if we had this capability and it was available to us, we had the know-how and the expertise to do it, why would we leave that on the sidelines? Even if it can’t replace everything, even if we are still struggling with the Israelis from time to time on some of these crossings, why you would leave that on the sidelines makes no sense. It’s the same with the airdrops. We know the airdrops are not going to be substantial enough in quantity to match what you can do on ground routes, but that doesn’t mean you don’t do them. You do the best you can, and you add as much capability as you can.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Next up, we’ll go to Andrea Mitchell with NBC. Andrea, you should be able to unmute yourself.

Q Hi there. Thank you very much, John. I hope you can hear me. We’re reporting — we and maybe others are reporting that Israel says that they made a new ceasefire offer for a
long pause or a calming, not a permanent ceasefire. Do you have anything on that and what the status of a possible resumption of talks might be?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, I mentioned this a little bit ago, Andrea. There is a fresh proposal that’s being worked. And I can tell you that the Israelis are fully supportive of this fresh proposal and, as before, have been willing to deal in good faith on this.

I won’t go into the details of it. I think you can understand why. But we’re hard at work at seeing if we can’t make this other run at it work.

Q Do you know — can you give us any help on when this might get elevated or when there might be a resumption, at a more senior level, of talks?

MR. KIRBY: No, I can’t, not because I have it and I don’t want to give it to you. I can’t because we just don’t — we just don’t know right now. We’re — this is, again, a pretty fresh proposal here. And again, the Israelis have been very supportive. But there’s a lot of work now that has to get done to see if we can’t get another round of talks going and see where we can get this — see where we can land it.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Next up we have Trevor with Reuters. Trevor, you should be able to unmute yourself.

Q Hey, John. Thanks for taking the question. Two for you on Gaza. You said yesterday that Israel is not engaged in a major ground operation because IDF has not sent a large number of troops, but we do see that Israel sent six combat brigades, with more on the way. Potentially, we’re talking about tens of thousands of troops. You know, by comparison, they seized all of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt in the ‘50s with 10 brigades. (Inaudible) not a major operation.

And then, on the incident over the weekend, there was a report that there was a GBU-39 that was found, (inaudible) bomb that’s made (inaudible) United States. Is that in line with what you know? Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: Can you repeat the second half of your second question? You said somebody with a GBU-39, and then I missed the rest.

Q Yeah, that’s a bomb that’s made in the U.S.

MR. KIRBY: No, I know what it is. No, no, I know what a GBU-39 is, but I didn’t get the second half of your question.

Q Oh. Is that in line — are you aware that that bomb was used by Israel in the attack on Sunday?

MR. KIRBY: Okay. All right. I’ll do these in reverse order just because I want to.

Yeah, I mean, I know what a GBU-39 is, and I know what it can do. I know that the Israelis have said publicly that they used precision-guided munitions with a 37-pound, or 17-kilo, payload.

As I said yesterday, Trevor, I can’t confirm any of those details; I can only point you to what the IDF has said. Therefore, I cannot confirm whether or not it was a GBU-39 that delivered the payload on that bomb. You’d have to really talk to the IDF about that.

On your first question, again, you guys are — I understand where the questions are coming from, but you got to understand I’m not going to confirm IDF operations or what they’re doing, so I can’t speak to combat brigades they have in Rafah or not, or what makes up a brigade for them and how many soldiers that is. They should speak to all that.

All I can tell you is that, as you and I are sitting here talking today, we still have not seen a major ground operation in Rafah in the manner I described it as yesterday, which — large amounts; you know, thousands and thousands of troops moving in a coordinated fashion against — you know, maneuvering against a variety of targets on the ground in a very aggressive way. The way I described it yesterday, as you and I sit here today, we have not seen that.

MODERATOR: All right. Thank you. Next up we’ll go to Alex Ward with Politico. Alex, you should be able to unmute yourself.

Q Yeah. Thanks so much, John. Secretary Blinken was asked today about Ukraine lifting — the U.S. lifting restrictions on Ukraine’s ability to strike inside Russia. And he suggested the administration has always adjusted as necessary, seeming to open the door to the possibility of a policy change. I know you spoke a bit to this yesterday, but is the administration reviewing this, you know, decision? Obviously, you know, some — Emmanuel Macron came out in saying Ukraine should be able to hit. That’s one.

And two, USAID Administrator Power today said that “Despite…” — and I’m reading this quote — “Despite currently more limited military operations around Rafah and the Egypt-Gaza border, the catastrophic consequences that we have long warned about are becoming a reality.” So just checking if the White House agrees that Israel’s campaign so far, while limited, has led to catastrophic consequences in Rafah. Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: So, on your first question, as I said yesterday — I believe I said yesterday — there’s no change in our policy. We do not encourage nor do we enable attacks using U.S. weapons on Russian soil. And as the Secretary said and as, frankly, I’ve said it too: From almost the first week of this war, we’ve been in touch with our Ukrainian counterparts every day about what their needs are. Some of those needs are material; some of those needs are training; some of those needs are advice and counsel. Whatever the needs are, we’re in touch with them, and we’re talking to them. And those conversations continue right now.

I don’t have any changes to speak to. But as you know, Alex, our support to Ukraine has evolved appropriately as the battlefield conditions have evolved. And that’s not going to change. But right now, there’s also no change to our policy.

MODERATOR: All right, thank you. Next up, we’ll go to Nadia Bilbassy.

MR. KIRBY: Well, wait a minute. I blew off your second question, didn’t I? Sorry.

Q Yeah, on Administrator Power, yeah.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah. No, that’s all right. It wasn’t a Freudian slip. I wasn’t trying to be, you know — I wasn’t trying to ignore it.

Look, I — we all share the concerns that Administrator Power shares and has conveyed about the suffering inside Gaza. I just talked quite a little bit about all the things that we’re doing on the humanitarian assistance front to try to alleviate that.

We know there are people in desperate, desperate straits. And that is why we’re working so hard to get this fresh proposal
through, to get a hostage deal so we can get a ceasefire so that we can increase the humanitarian assistance and there’s a period of calm where there’s no fighting across all of Gaza. That’s the goal here.

So I think we’re all pulling the oars in the same direction. And we all share the concerns, again, about the people that are in such desperate need. And, again, that’s why we’re pursuing this path.

Q So, sorry, since you said you share those concerns, you’re in agreement with Administrator Power that there have been catastrophic consequences in Rafah?

MR. KIRBY: We certainly agree that there have been — I mean, yes, of course. I don’t even — there’s no way you should even take any note that we — of cou- — what happened over on Sunday, with the death of innocent people in the tent, that was a catastrophe. Having, you know, more than 2 million people being displaced by conflict, a war that Sinwar started, certainly has had catastrophic consequences on their lives, their livelihoods, their infrastructure. I mean, my goodness, of course there’s been catastrophe in Gaza. But that’s why we’re working so hard to find a way through here and to eventually try to find a way to end this conflict.

MODERATOR: All right, thank you. Now we’ll go to Nadia Bilbassy. Nadia, you should be able to unmute yourself.

Q Thank you, Jessica. John, you said yesterday that the President did not see the videos from Rafah of the charred bodies and headless babies. Why is that? Who is responsible to show him these videos, considering that he talked very much about the Israeli side and the videos that he saw, and he used them on even campaign trips?

And second, if you allow me, you stated that you support Israel to destroy Hamas, you want to release the hostages, you said you want more aid to Gaza, and you want more protection for civilians. I mean, isn’t just trying to square the circle? I mean, do you see these targets achievable without a permanent ceasefire, which Hamas (inaudible) insist that nothing can move forward without a ceasefire?

MR. KIRBY: So what I said yesterday, Nadia, when I was asked was: Has the President seen the images? And I said I did not know. And I do not know today, but I can ask the question. That is what I said. I did not say that he didn’t.

Q Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah. And on the second question, squaring the circle — man, I’ll tell you, that’s what this whole thing is about. It’s about trying to square all these circles. Are you kidding me? We want to see the — we want to see the hostages out. The only way to do that is to tie it to a ceasefire. You get a ceasefire in place for six weeks, and maybe that can lead to something more sustainable. And with nobody shooting at anybody, then you can get more aid in because drivers of trucks and people that deliver aid won’t be as fearful about making those crossings and making those routes.

So I’ll tell you, President Biden has been working hard every day to square all these circles. And that’s absolutely what we’re going to keep doing.

Q I mean, I don’t disagree with you. It’s the opposite, actually. But my point here is: Without a permanent ceasefire, Hamas (inaudible) saying nothing can go forward unless Israel stops all the operations. And the Israelis said, we’re not going to stop the operations. So this is my point to you: How can you achieve all of this without a permanent ceasefire?

MR. KIRBY: We believe that if we can get the hostage deal tied to a temporary ceasefire, that that can lead to something more enduring, something more sustainable — a calm of greater duration — and that that can lead to an end of the conflict. And that’s what we’re focused on.

MODERATOR: All right, thank you. Next up we’ll go to Kayla with CNN. Kayla, you should be able to unmute yourself.

Q Thank you so much, Admiral. Analysis by CNN and others show debris of a Small Diameter Bomb in the wreckage, the bomb that is made by Boeing and would likely have been made in the United States. I know the administration has previously halted the provision of heavy bombs. I’m wondering whether the administration is discussing changes to the provision of these Small Diameter Bombs.

MR. KIRBY: So, first of all, I’ve seen your reporting, and as I said earlier, I’m in no position to confirm the weapons loadout on Israeli aircraft. I’ll leave it to the Israelis to describe, as they shou- — as only they can, the manner in which they conducted these strikes. So I’m not going to confirm the reporting. You got to talk to the IDF about that.

And as for your — the thrust of the question, which is, you know, other policy changes with respect to weapons shipments, the only shipment that has been paused and it remains paused is that shipment of 2,000-pound bombs that we have talked about now for several weeks. There is no other pause to speak to. And as the President has said, we will keep doing what we have to do to help Israel defend itself against a still-viable threat by Hamas.

Q And if I may, some of the munitions experts who were quoted in some of our reporting say, “Using any munition, even of this size, will always incur risks in a densely populated area.” Does the administration agree with that assessment?

MR. KIRBY: I said yesterday — and please quote me from yesterday — in my opening statement that what happened on Sunday, the tragic outcome, underscores exactly that notion: the danger, the challenges of conducting a military operation in a densely populated area such as Rafah. So, yes, I agree with that, and I said so yesterday in the briefing.

MODERATOR: All right, thank you. Next up we’ll go with Anita Powell, VOA. Anita, you should be able to unmute yourself.

Q Thank you so much, John. First of all, Secretary Austin is going to the Shangri-La Dialogue. I just want to know what message he’s taking to the Asian partners in the region and also to China.

MR. KIRBY: Well, with the caveat that I’m no longer the Pentagon press secretary, I would refer you to my colleagues over there to speak to his agenda and his meetings and discussions that he’s having. It wouldn’t be appropriate for that to come from me.

Q I’m asking on behalf of the administration. I mean, he’s the Defense Secretary. So what message is he taking on behalf of —

MR. KIRBY: Again, I appreciate the question, but I don’t speak for the Defense Secretary, and I really don’t want to get into the details of his schedule. I will just tell you, and I was going to do this just a second ago, that this is an important dialogue, Shangri-La, certainly in an important region of the world. And it is an annual gathering that secretaries of defense for many, many years have attended, with good reason, because it’s an opportunity to present our case, to talk about our national security interests and how we’re going about securing those interests in the Indo-Pacific region, and an opportunity for leaders there to have many individual bilateral discussions with their counterparts to advance some of these goals.

And I know that Secretary Austin is embarking on this trip with all of that firmly in his mind and that he’s looking forward to having those discussions and, again, to laying out, as he has in the past, very clearly, not only the Defense Department’s approach to the Indo-Pacific but the entire national security establishment.

Q John, can I ask a follow-up on Ukraine please, on the peace summit? Is President Biden concerned that if he doesn’t attend the Ukraine peace summit, it will send the wrong message to the global community about the importance of supporting peace in Ukraine?

And then, if he’s not going, who from the administration is? And does the administration still feel confident in President Zelenskyy’s peace formulation?

MR. KIRBY: Okay, those are seven questions, I think. So let me try the first one.

I mean, I got — I have no delegation plans to speak to you today for this peace summit. That’s point one.

Point two: No matter who represents the United States at the peace summit, it cannot be said that the United States has not been there for Ukraine, and that it cannot be said, number three, that President Biden has not been there for Ukraine. I mean, from the very beginning of this conflict, no other leader has done as much and continues to do as much as President Biden does to make sure that Ukraine has what it needs to defend itself against Russian aggression.

And no other leader has done as much to work with the Ukrainians, not only for their defense needs now, but for what their defense needs are going to be when this war is over. Whatever that border — whatever that end of the war looks like, they’re still going to have a long border with Russia, and it’s a border that they’re going to need to defend. And the President has made commitments to Ukraine to be there for them long term.

So being there means being there. And in all the ways that that matters, the United States and President Biden has been there for President Zelenskyy and for the people of Ukraine, and that will continue regardless of who sits in what chair at the peace summit. And I think that’s an important thing to remember.

I know you had another question that I think I missed. President Zelenskyy.

Q Yeah, does the White House have confidence in President Zelenskyy’s peace formulation? Do you support it — all 10 of its points, I believe?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, of course we do. And we’ve been supportive of that 10-point formulation since he drafted it.

And as a matter of fact, we have been actively involved — Secretary Blinken and Jake Sullivan, in particular — actively involved in advancing that formula and working with other countries around the world to see what we can do to operationalize it.

And, you know, I want to go back to what I was talking about before. I also want to remind you that in just the last month we’ve issued five security packages to Ukraine, three of them presidential drawdown authority, two of them under USAI, but in the past month. Again, so regardless of who’s in what seat at the peace summit, it can’t be said that the United States isn’t doing everything and anything to do what we can to support Ukraine.

I think I’m going to —

Q So just to clarify, John, does the White House have input into Ukraine’s peace formula? Is this a dialogue between Washington and Kyiv then?

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, of course.

MODERATOR: All right. Thanks, Anita. Next up we’ll have Zolan from the New York Times. Zolan, you should be able to unmute yourself.

Q Hey there. Thanks so much for the question. I’m assuming you can hear me, right?

MODERATOR: Yep. Loud and clear.

Q Thanks very much. John, I just wanted to follow up on an inquiry I had yesterday in terms of — I realize that the U.S. isn’t sort of the primary source for this, but I would assume just since the administration for a while was calling for Israel to hold back on going into Rafah before it had developed plans for evacuating displaced Palestinians there, if there were any sort of now updated numbers on the number of Palestinians who — displaced Palestinians who have fled Rafah, where they are, and the number of Palestinians that are still in Rafah. Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: I’m afraid I don’t have those updated for you. And I apologize, because I did say yesterday I would try to get that for you. So let me take that question. And that comes with my apologies. You’re right, I did get asked, and I didn’t have the answer yesterday.

Q Appreciate that. I’ll follow up. Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah. I just don’t want to — I don’t want to be guessing on something like that.

MODERATOR: All right, thank you. And last question we’ll go to Nick Schifrin with PBS. Nick, you should be able to unmute yourself.

Q Thanks, guys. John, at the United Nations, Algeria is pushing a resolution that would call for the end of the Rafah operations. Does the U.S. have a position on that?

And then, a question that is perhaps more tactical than you want to answer, but regardless of which munition the Israelis dropped, the IDF has been specific and said that their target was 180 meters away from the tent encampment that caught fire. Again, I know it’s a tactical question, but is that a sufficient enough distance in your mind? Thanks.

MR. KIRBY: Yeah, you’re right, that’s more tactical than I’m going to get into, Nick. I mean, we weren’t part of this operation. We didn’t help plan it. We didn’t help execute it. We didn’t do the targeting. And I would refer you to what the IDF have been saying about that investiga- — that operation. And, of course, they’re investigating it. So let’s see what they come up with in terms of their conclusions about what could have caused this explosion and fire. So, again, I just want to be careful on this.

And on the resolution by Algeria, we certainly are aware of it. As a matter of fact, we’re reviewing it. I think you can understand that I’m not going to negotiate this thing here in public, in a gaggle. But I would take the opportunity to note that we believe it is imbalanced and it fails to note a very simple fact — and this is the same thing we have objected to with previous resolutions: It does not note that Hamas is to blame for this conflict and that the fighting in Rafah could end tomorrow if Mr. Sinwar did the right thing and agreed to this deal and get a ceasefire and to get the release of the hostages. And I will leave it at that.

I do have one correction. My team is telling me that when I answered the question about the five security packages, three were PDA, one was USAI, one was foreign military financing. That was the source for that package. So I apologize for the error, but I’m glad I was able to fix it before we wrapped up the gaggle.

And then, we do have a taken question on the number of
evacuees. We’ll do the best we can to get you an answer on that. And again, my apologies — I should have been ready for that, given that I took it yesterday. So, my bad. We’ll get back to you all. Have a great day.

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