Israel killing too many civilians – US
Israel cannot use the October 7 Hamas attack as a “license to dehumanize others” and must reduce civilian casualties in Gaza, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said. His comments come as Israel’s continued war against Hamas strains relations with Washington.
Recent polls have indicated that traditional Arab-American support for Democratic presidential candidates is slipping, as the country enters selection and election season. Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is polling consistently ahead of President Joe Biden.
“Israelis were dehumanized in the most horrific way on October 7,” Blinken said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. “But that cannot be a license to dehumanize others.”
“The overwhelming majority of people in Gaza had nothing to do with the attacks,” the American diplomat continued. “The families in Gaza whose survival depends on deliveries of aid from Israel are just like our families. They’re mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, who want to earn a decent living, send their kids to school, have a normal life. And we cannot, we must not lose sight of that.”
Blinken insisted that the US is continuing to press Israel to “strengthen civilian protection,” but cautioned that “the daily toll that [Israel’s] military operations continue to take on innocent civilians remains too high.”
Israel responded to the Hamas attack by declaring war on the Palestinian militant group and imposing a near-total siege on Gaza. In four months of fighting, Israeli forces have killed nearly 28,000 people, the majority of whom were women and children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. According to the latest figures from the UN’s agency for Palestinian refugees, more than a quarter of Gaza’s population is facing famine conditions.
While the US initially rushed military aid to Israel and pledged support for Netanyahu’s war, the mounting civilian death toll, coupled with the Israeli leader’s rejection of an eventual two-state solution to the conflict, has soured relations with US President Joe Biden and his administration.
For Washington, establishing an independent Palestinian state is seen as vital not just for ending the decades-long conflict, but also for ensuring that Saudi Arabia recognizes Israel. Brokering a Saudi-Israeli recognition deal is a key foreign policy goal of the Biden administration, as it would establish diplomatic ties between Iran’s two leading regional rivals, with Saudi Arabia potentially entering into a defense pact with the US.
Although Netanyahu has shot down a two-state solution, insisting instead on “full Israeli security control over the entire area in the west of Jordan,” Blinken said on Wednesday that Washington wants West Jerusalem to commit to “a concrete, time-bound and irreversible path” toward Palestinian statehood.
In a press conference delivered immediately before Blinken’s, Netanyahu struck a far more bellicose tone. The Israeli prime minister rejected a Hamas-authored ceasefire plan, declaring that “there is no other solution besides absolute victory” over the militants.
Earlier on Wednesday, Blinken told Israeli President Isaac Herzog that “there is a lot of work to be done” to reach a ceasefire deal palatable to both Netanyahu and Hamas, but that the US is “very much focused on doing that work.”