In his most pointed public critique of Israel’s handling of the battle against Hamas in south Gaza, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that there was a discrepancy between the government’s stated intentions to protect civilians and the casualties.
“It is still crucial that Israel prioritise civilian safety as we stand here, nearly a week into this campaign into the south,” Blinken stated at a press conference on Thursday following his meeting with British Foreign Secretary David Cameron in Washington.
“And there does remain a gap between… the intent to protect civilians and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground.”
Following its attack on Israel two months ago, Israel says it must destroy the militant Hamas group and is taking all necessary precautions to keep civilians safe, including issuing warnings about impending military operations.
On Thursday, U.S. President Joe Biden had separate phone conversations with King Abdullah of Jordan and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Vice President Joe Biden “emphasised the critical need to protect civilians and to separate the civilian population from Hamas including through corridors that allow people to move safely from defined areas of hostilities,” according to the White House.
Over 17,170 Palestinians have died and 46,000 injured since Israel started bombing Gaza on October 7 in reaction to a cross-border attack by Hamas militants, who are in charge of the enclave and are backed by Iran. This information comes from the Gaza Health Ministry. Israel’s count of the Hamas attack shows that 1,200 people were murdered, and 240 were held captive.
The Israeli military announced on Friday that since its ground incursions started on October 20, 92 of its troops had died in the fighting in Gaza.
A spokesman for the Gaza health ministry, Ashraf Al-Qidra, said that 350 Palestinians were killed on Thursday when Israel battled Hamas militants in the largest towns of the Gaza Strip. Israel claimed that several militants were killed by its soldiers in Khan Younis, including two who came out of a tunnel firing.
With the United Arab Emirates requesting that the U.N. Security Council vote on a draft resolution on Friday morning, Arab governments are stepping up their calls for an urgent humanitarian truce in Gaza.
A ceasefire is opposed by the US and its ally Israel, who claim it will only help Hamas. On Friday in Washington, Blinken is scheduled to meet with senior officials from Arab nations, including Egypt.
The revised version said that “the Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law” as well as “demand the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”
To be accepted, a resolution must have at least nine votes in favour and not face a veto from any of the five permanent members, who are the US, Russia, China, France, or the UK. At this point, the United States opposes any additional council action.
(With agency inputs)