WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration has told Israel it must work to prevent “significant further displacement” of Palestinian civilians in the southern Gaza Strip as it renews its ground campaign to destroy the militant Hamas group, senior U.S. officials said. Officer.
To avoid further large civilian casualties or mass displacements like those seen before the current temporary pause in fighting, the administration stressed to Israelis that it needed to be far more precise in southern Gaza than in the north, officials and briefed reporters said on condition of anonymity, according to statements released by the White House established basic rules.
Amid mounting international and domestic pressure over the rising Palestinian death toll, the White House has begun putting greater pressure on Israel to “carefully consider” the nature of the upcoming election campaign, one of the officials said. Israelis were receptive when government officials raised these concerns, the official said.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made it clear that the Israel Defense Forces will eventually resume military operations following the conclusion of the current temporary ceasefire, which allows for an exchange of Hamas hostages for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. The two sides agreed on Monday to extend the ceasefire for another two days and to continue exchanging hostages for prisoners.
President Joe Biden has said he wants the pause – which has also allowed urgently needed humanitarian aid to reach Gaza – to last as long as possible. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will return to the Middle East this week as the United States hopes to find a way to extend the ceasefire and release more hostages, the State Department said Monday. It will be his third trip to the region since Israel’s war with Hamas began last month.
Still, Biden and senior officials were also clear that Israel has a desire to continue Hamas-focused operations, which have been focused largely in the north over the past seven weeks. They have stated that they support Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas’s control of Gaza and the threat it poses to Israeli civilians, but have more clearly emphasized the need to protect the lives of Palestinian civilians. Hamas is known to seek shelter among the territory’s civilian population, and Israeli officials have released videos from the northern Gaza Strip purporting to show weapons stockpiles and firing ranges amid civilian infrastructure.
According to the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza, which makes no distinction between civilians and combatants, more than 13,300 Palestinians have been killed since the war began on October 7, about two-thirds of them women and minors. On the Israeli side, more than 1,200 people were killed, mostly civilians killed in the initial attack. At least 77 soldiers were killed in the Israeli ground offensive.
The US estimates that there are currently around 2 million Palestinians in the south and center of the Gaza Strip. Biden administration officials have made it clear to Israelis that an already extensive humanitarian assistance network would not be able to address the kind of displacement that people in the northern Gaza Strip have suffered in Israel’s retaliatory strikes and ground operations.
Biden administration officials have also told the Israelis that they expect them to conduct their operations in a way that is “maximally non-conflict” with the operation of humanitarian aid facilities, United Nations-backed shelters and core infrastructure, including electricity and water, is.
The World Health Organization has warned that the war has led to a growing public health crisis that is a recipe for epidemics as displaced Palestinians are forced to seek refuge in cramped homes and camps.
A government official said vaccines were among the medical supplies entering Gaza, but there was also a focus on drinking water supplies and sanitation to prevent outbreaks of typhoid and cholera. To that end, the White House has also pushed to bring as much fuel to Gaza as possible – something the Israelis resisted, particularly in the early weeks of the war, on the grounds that it could be siphoned off by Hamas.
The officials said the U.S. would send the first of three U.S. military humanitarian aid flights to northern Egypt on Tuesday to carry medical supplies, food aid and winter supplies for civilians in the Gaza Strip. The aid is to be delivered to Gaza by the United Nations.
Source : apnews.com