The United States has expressed growing concern over the high number of civilian casualties in Gaza and has requested an explanation from Israel regarding an airstrike on the densely populated Jabalia refugee camp. According to Politico, a US official who wished to remain anonymous stated that Washington has asked Israel to take additional measures to avoid harming civilians and has requested details about the thought process behind the strike. The US has also urged Israel to conduct precise targeting to minimize civilian casualties.
During his visit to Israel on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken informed reporters that he had urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pursue a temporary cessation of fighting and provided advice on reducing civilian casualties. In response, Netanyahu stated that Israel would not agree to any ceasefires and would continue with full force until all hostages taken in the October 7 attack by Hamas are released.
According to the anonymous official, the US has advised Israel to conduct a more surgical operation instead of a full-scale invasion of Gaza, citing the potential for both civilian and Israel Defense Forces (IDF) casualties. However, Netanyahu only partially heeded the advice, choosing a path that sought to split the difference.
Netanyahu declared war on Hamas after the group’s incursion resulted in the deaths of 1,400 Israelis, predominantly civilians. The IDF has launched numerous airstrikes on Gaza, resulting in over 9,000 deaths according to health officials in the Hamas-controlled enclave. Ground troops from the IDF entered Gaza on Friday and reportedly divided the region in two.
One of the strikes on Tuesday targeted Jabalia and resulted in the deaths of 50 people and injuries to 150 others. Another strike on Wednesday claimed the lives of at least 80 more individuals, as reported by local doctors. Israel has acknowledged both strikes, stating that it aimed to target senior Hamas commanders who were deliberately endangering Gazan civilians by using them as human shields.
While the unnamed US official who spoke to Politico emphasized that American support for Israel’s right to defend itself remains solid, some members of Congress from President Joe Biden’s party have expressed reservations. On Friday, 13 Senate Democrats issued a joint statement calling for a temporary cessation of hostilities to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza, the release of hostages, and the negotiation of a peace agreement. Democrats in the House are also discussing potential measures to penalize Israel if it refuses to change its course, including the enforcement of existing human rights vetting tied to US weapons deliveries, according to a member of Congress who spoke to Politico anonymously.
It is important to note that the context of the article revolves around the US seeking explanations and urging Israel to minimize civilian casualties, as well as discussing possible measures to hold Israel accountable for its actions.