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Thursday, July 18, 2024

US lectures Israel over Gaza war – leaks

Fighting can’t go on for months, Secretary of State Blinken has reportedly said

Israel lacks “credit” to keep the fight against Hamas going for months and needs to change its tactics in the south of Gaza, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at a war cabinet meeting on Thursday, according to Israel’s Channel 12.

Blinken was in Jerusalem for meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the cabinet overseeing the war on the Palestinian militant group. Some of the quotes from the meeting somehow made their way to Channel 12, Israel’s most popular commercial TV station, which aired them on Thursday evening.

Read more: Israeli forces kill two Palestinian boys in the Jenin refugee camp

“You can’t operate in southern Gaza in the way you did in the north. There are two million Palestinians there,” Blinken said at one point, according to a translation from Hebrew posted by the Times of Israel.

“You need to evacuate fewer people from their homes, be more accurate in the attacks, not hit UN facilities, and ensure that there are enough protected areas,” the US diplomat added. “And if not? Then not to attack where there is a civilian population.”

When Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said that the entire Israeli society was united behind the objective of dismantling Hamas, “even if it takes months,” Blinken replied, “I don’t think you have the credit for that.”

Read more: Mediator Qatar confirms Israel-Hamas truce extended until Friday

The leaked quotes also revealed that Israel does not want the Palestinian Authority to ever rule Gaza, because it “supports, educates, and finances terror,” according to Netanyahu.

Blinken said the US understands that, but “other states in the region need to know what you are planning,” because “The best way to kill an idea is to bring a better idea.”

Washington has backed Israel’s offensive against Gaza after the October 7 raid by Hamas that resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 Israelis. Since then, however, the US government has faced public backlash over the deaths of some 16,000 Palestinians in the enclave, many of them women and children.

According to a statement issued by the State Department, Blinken has “reaffirmed the United States’ support for Israel’s right to protect itself from terrorist violence in compliance with international humanitarian law and urged Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm.”

Blinken also urged “immediate steps to hold settler extremists accountable for violence against Palestinians in the West Bank” and said the US “remains committed to tangible steps to advance a Palestinian state living in peace, freedom, and security alongside Israel,” according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.