US officials have expressed concerns over Israel’s plans for a ground operation in Gaza and whether it will achieve its goal of eradicating the Hamas militant group, according to the New York Times. The US Defense Secretary, Lloyd Austin, has reportedly emphasized the need for “careful consideration” before launching a ground campaign in the densely populated territory.
In recent discussions with his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, Secretary Austin highlighted the importance of evaluating the potential consequences of a ground operation. The New York Times reported that the US administration is concerned about the lack of a clear military pathway for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to achieve Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s goal of eradicating Hamas. American officials have not yet seen an achievable plan of action from Israeli officials following the Hamas attacks that began on October 7.
While the White House has stated that American officials are not making decisions for Israel, the Pentagon has dispatched Lt. Gen. James Glynn, a three-star Marine, to advise the IDF on urban operations. Glynn, who previously led US special operators fighting against ISIS and served in Fallujah, Iraq, will consult with Israeli commanders on mitigating civilian casualties in urban warfare. However, the National Security Council Coordinator, John Kirby, clarified that American advisers will not have a combat role and that Glynn would not remain on the ground in Israel if a ground invasion were to occur.
During a call with Gallant, Defense Secretary Austin emphasized the importance of civilian protection and urged the Israeli military to conduct operations in accordance with the law of war. The US is concerned about the widespread displacement of hundreds of thousands of residents in Gaza and the need for humanitarian aid, which has prompted warnings of a looming humanitarian disaster from the United Nations and other organizations.
The IDF has faced criticism from human rights groups for its strikes on civilian structures in Gaza, resulting in thousands of Palestinian deaths and injuries. The latest round of hostilities has resulted in the deaths of at least 1,400 people in Israel since Hamas launched a major terrorist attack on October 7.
The US continues to stress the importance of carefully considering the potential consequences of a ground operation in Gaza and the need to prioritize the protection of civilians. The lack of a clear and achievable plan for eradicating Hamas is a concern for American officials. The displacement of residents in Gaza and the urgent need for humanitarian aid underline the gravity of the situation and the need for a cautious approach to any military actions taken.