The US State Department has reportedly advised diplomats to refrain from using certain phrases such as “de-escalation” or “ceasefire” when discussing the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza. According to multiple media outlets, the memo sent to officials on Friday suggests that Washington will not urge Israel to restrain its military action in the Palestinian enclave.
This directive, obtained by The Huffington Post, has been described as a “stunning signal” and an indication of the White House’s “reluctance to push for Israeli restraint.” The email came amid a new round of airstrikes on Gaza in response to a Hamas-led terrorist attack the previous week.
Although the State Department officials declined to comment on internal communications, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken emphasized the importance of avoiding civilian casualties in Gaza during a press event in Qatar. He acknowledged the suffering of Palestinian families in Gaza and expressed concern for the loss of Palestinian civilian lives.
President Joe Biden has expressed support for Israel’s right to respond to the Hamas attack, describing it as “pure evil.” However, Biden also emphasized the importance of upholding the laws of war and reportedly urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to minimize civilian casualties during private discussions.
During meetings in Israel, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin echoed this message, urging Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) officials to observe international rules of warfare.
Since the start of the conflict, casualties on both sides have been devastating. According to local officials, at least 1,300 Israelis and nearly 1,900 Palestinians have been killed, with thousands more injured. The IDF airstrikes have continued, destroying entire apartment blocks, while Israeli ground troops have initiated their push into Gaza.
In response to the violence, the Israeli government has ordered more than 1 million residents in northern Gaza to evacuate the area for their own safety. However, this directive has drawn criticism from the United Nations and other rights groups, who argue that it would result in a massive humanitarian toll. When questioned about the policy, White House spokesman John Kirby declined to either endorse or condemn it, referring to it as “a tall order.”
The US approach to the conflict has been a subject of scrutiny, with critics suggesting that the State Department’s memo reflects a reluctance to push Israel to exercise restraint. Nonetheless, US officials, including President Biden and Secretary Blinken, have stressed the need to avoid civilian casualties and uphold principles of international law. The situation in Gaza continues to escalate, with both sides suffering significant losses and the humanitarian situation worsening.