A weekend Israeli airstrike on a refugee camp in Rafah that killed at least 45 people and wounded hundreds more does not cross President Joe Biden’s “red line” for halting military assistance to Israel, the White House said Tuesday.

Earlier this month, Biden, in an interview with CNN, laid down a line, saying if Israel crossed it, the United States would withhold military shipments, including artillery shells, bombs for fighter jets and more. That line, he said, was a military invasion of Rafah in southern Gaza.

“I made it clear that if they go into Rafah — they haven’t gone in Rafah yet — if they go into Rafah, I’m not supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities — that deal with that problem,” Biden said.

“... I’ve made it clear to Bibi (Netanyahu) and the war cabinet: They’re not going to get our support, if in fact they go on these population centers,” he continued.

On Tuesday, however, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in a press briefing that Israel’s airstrikes, as well as Israeli tanks pushing into central Rafah, did not constitute a “major ground operation” that would cross that line.

“We won’t support a major ground operation in Rafah,” Kirby said. “The president said that, should that occur, then it might make him have to make different decisions in terms of support.

“We haven’t seen that happen at this point. We have not seen them smash into Rafah.”

Kirby went on to further define what “major ground operations” in Gaza would look like:

“We have not seen them go in with large units and large numbers of troops in columns and formations in some sort of coordinated maneuver against multiple targets on the ground,” he said. “Everything that we can see tells us that they are not moving in a major ground operation in population centers in the city of Rafah.”

According to BBC News, “the Israel Defense Forces first began what it called ‘targeted’ ground operations against Hamas fighters and infrastructure in the east of Rafah on 6 May.”

At the time, the U.S. paused a shipment of bombs to Israel due to concerns that Israel was preparing a “full-scale assault” on Rafah, The Associated Press reported.

Pink lines

Both Kirby and Secretary of State Antony Blinken have refused to identify a definitive “red line,” beyond a “major ground operation in Rafah,” despite Biden’s comments threatening to withhold weapons earlier this month, NBC News reported.

Khaled Elgindy, a senior fellow at the Middle East Institute, told The New York Times that the White House was “benefiting from its ambiguous descriptions” of its “red line” of an invasion of Rafah.

“It’s definitely blurry and by design,” Elgindy said. “They don’t want to be pinned down. They don’t want to pin themselves down by identifying an exact point or line that gets across because Israel will absolutely cross that line. We’ve seen that over and over again.”

Aaron David Miller, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, echoed similar sentiments in an interview with NPR.

“When it comes to the U.S.-Israeli relationship, red lines have a way, historically, of turning, let’s say, pink. And that seems to have been the case here.”

U.S. aid into Gaza pauses

The “deepening Israeli offensive” in Rafah has made it “impossible” for aid to Palestinians to come through the crossing there, according to The Associated Press.

Adding to the difficulty of getting humanitarian aid to Palestinians, the U.S. military said Tuesday that it was pausing aid deliveries into Gaza after its temporary pier was damaged due to bad weather and “heavy sea states.”

The $320-million floating dock, which has been in operation for less than two weeks, will take at least a week to repair, Sabrina Singh, deputy Pentagon press secretary, said Tuesday.

“We remain committed to working with the international community to get aid into Gaza as quickly as possible,” Singh stated.