Secretary of State Antony Blinken has reportedly urged Israel to minimize civilian casualties during the conflict in Gaza by using smaller bombs. According to the New York Times, Blinken conveyed this message to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting. While the precise steps were not disclosed publicly, unnamed US officials have revealed that they involve using more intelligence to target Hamas’ command centers, deploying ground troops to separate civilians from Hamas strongholds, and improving the targeting of Hamas leaders.
The United States has also demanded an explanation from Israel regarding the airstrikes on Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp, which took place on Tuesday. The camp, known for its high population density, was targeted by the Israeli Defense Forces using multiple 2,000-pound bombs. The strike claimed the life of a Hamas commander and numerous militants, but also resulted in a significant number of civilian casualties. Gaza officials reported that at least 195 Palestinians, the majority of them women and children, were killed, while over 400 others were wounded.
In response, US officials have called on Israel to adopt a more precise and surgical approach to its targeting in order to minimize harm to civilians. The US hopes that by providing smaller 250-pound bombs to Israel instead of the larger ones, which cause significant collateral damage, the Israeli Defense Forces will be deterred from using the more destructive munitions. Prime Minister Netanyahu is said to have partly accepted this advice but has pledged to continue the military operation with full force until Hamas releases the hostages it has taken. He has consistently rejected calls for a ceasefire.
While Secretary Blinken has also opposed a ceasefire, arguing that it would give Hamas an opportunity to regroup, he reportedly told Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas that he envisions the Palestinian Authority playing a central role in the post-war governance of Gaza. He also promised to increase aid deliveries. Abbas, however, insisted that any assumption of power should be part of a comprehensive political solution to the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Abbas has strongly condemned the bombardment of Gaza, describing it as a “genocidal war,” and pleaded with Blinken to intervene and halt what he termed as Israel’s crimes. According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, the ongoing conflict has resulted in the deaths of at least 10,022 Palestinians since Israel declared war on Hamas on October 7. Shockingly, more than a third of these casualties have been children. Many more are presumed to be buried under the rubble following the extensive destruction caused by Israeli airstrikes, particularly in the northern half of Gaza.
The latest developments highlight the escalating concerns over civilian casualties and the urgent need for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The US government, through Secretary Blinken, is making efforts to influence Israel’s tactics in Gaza to reduce harm to innocent civilians. The Palestinian Authority, led by Mahmoud Abbas, is seeking a comprehensive political solution to address the root causes of the conflict. However, there is still a long road ahead in achieving lasting peace in the region.