A top US government spokesman has said Washington is doing more than “any other nation” to assist civilians in Gaza, while also claiming officials have pressured Israel to be “cautious” in its bombing campaign on the densely populated territory.
Asked about the impact of Israel’s military operation on non-combatants in Gaza, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that the US is doing everything in its power to prevent civilian deaths and get aid to those who need it most.
“Name me one more nation – any other nation – that’s doing as much as the United States to alleviate the pain and suffering of the people of Gaza. You can’t,” Kirby said on Thursday, adding that President Joe Biden is “leading the effort to get trucks, food, water, medicine and fuel to the people of Gaza.”
The spokesman went on to state that Washington is also doing more than any country to “urge our Israeli counterparts to be as cautious and deliberate as they can be in the prosecution of their military operations.”
Although the Biden administration has unveiled multiple aid packages for civilians in Gaza – including $21 million for food, shelter and other purposes earlier this week – it continues to be Israel’s top military donor, providing large sums of weapons and munitions for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
In addition to annual aid authorized under previous legislation, which set aside $38 billion for Israel’s military between the 2019 and 2028 fiscal years, Washington has offered thousands of bombs to the IDF since Hamas’ deadly October 7 attack.
According to an internal government list described to the Wall Street Journal by Biden administration officials, the United States has already transferred 15,000 bombs and 57,000 artillery shells to Israel since October, including 5,000 MK82 unguided bombs, 5,400 MK84 2,000-pound bombs, around 1,000 GBU-39 small diameter bombs, as well as approximately 3,000 laser-guided JDAM missiles. Together, the airlifts amount to “hundreds of millions of dollars” in explosives, the Journal reported.
Despite the heavy flow of US arms shipments, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has stressed efforts to urge his Israeli counterparts to “put in place clear protections for civilians” in Gaza, though he did not elaborate on what precautions he had in mind.
US lawmakers are now debating whether to extend another $10 billion in aid to Israeli forces, which was recently part of a massive $106 billion congressional spending package. However, Republican senators voted against the bill, demanding compromises on US border policy if they are to approve the new funds for the IDF.
Around 1,200 Israelis lost their lives during Hamas’ October attack, while more than 15,000 Palestinians have been killed in IDF bombing raids and ground operations, according to local officials.