Israel on Sunday faced growing calls from the United States to avoid further harm to Palestinian civilians in its fight against Hamas militants in Gaza, as the warring sides showed no signs of moving toward reviving a broken ceasefire. .
US Vice President Kamala Harris says too many innocent Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin says civilians have been killed as Israeli forces storm the enclave following the breakdown of a temporary ceasefire. It considered it Israel’s “moral responsibility” to protect it.
The senior US official’s comments on Saturday increased pressure from Washington to be more cautious as Israel shifts its military offensive further south into the besieged Gaza Strip.
As fresh fighting continues into its third day, residents say the airstrikes and artillery shelling are just a prelude to Israeli ground operations in the southern sector, which could push them into the shrinking region and possibly into Egypt. I was worried that there might be.
The Gaza Health Ministry said at least 193 Palestinians have been killed since a week-long ceasefire ended on Friday, adding to the more than 15,000 Palestinian deaths since the war began. Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas after it rampaged through southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostages.
Speaking in Dubai, Harris said Israel has the right to defend itself, but international and humanitarian law must be respected, and that “too many innocent Palestinians are being killed.” Ta.
“Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming out of Gaza are devastating,” Harris told reporters.
Austin made perhaps his strongest comments yet about Israel’s need to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip, calling it a “moral responsibility and strategic obligation.”
“When you drive the enemy into the enemy’s pocket, you replace tactical victory with strategic defeat,” Austin said at a defense forum in Simi Valley, California.
Mr. Austin said the United States pledged to support Israel as its “closest friend in the world” and pressed Israeli authorities to dramatically expand access to humanitarian aid in Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Saturday that Israel continues to work with the United States and international organizations to define “safe zones” for civilians in Gaza.
“This is important because we do not want to harm our people,” Netanyahu said. “We have a strong desire to hurt Hamas.”
The United States is increasingly calling for the need to narrow the combat zone and secure a safe zone for non-combatants should Israel carry out attacks in southern Gaza.
Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas once and for all. Iran-backed Islamist groups have vowed to destroy Israel. One official said Hamas would repeat the October 7 attack if possible.
The Israeli military announced on October 7 that it had killed Wessam Farhat, the commander of a Hamas battalion that sent fighters to attack two kibbutzim near the Gaza Strip. He also said he was one of the planners of the attack.
“A new layer of destruction”
Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Israel does not want civilians in Gaza to be caught in the crossfire and is doing its “maximum efforts” to protect them.
He said that once the war is over, Israel will seek “security measures” to prevent Hamas from locating on the Gaza border.
Robert Maldini, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross, told Reuters the new fighting was “a new layer of destruction on top of massive and unprecedented destruction.”
Gaza health authorities say 650 people have been injured in addition to the dead since the cease-fire collapsed.
The situation inside Gaza has reached “breaking point,” in Mardini’s words, and on Saturday, Egyptian security and Red Crescent sources said that post-ceasefire ambulances entered the country from Egypt through the Rafah crossing. I told you. According to officials, about 100 trucks passed through.
A senior official said Israel would facilitate the provision of humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza.
Both sides blamed each other for the collapse of the ceasefire, during which Hamas released hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons.
Israel announced that it had recalled the Qatari team that was the organizer of indirect negotiations with Hamas, accusing it of breaking a deal to release all the women and children held by the Palestinian faction.
Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said he would travel to Qatar to work towards a new ceasefire agreement.
However, Hamas’s deputy chief said there would be no exchange of prisoners with Israel unless a ceasefire is reached and all Palestinians in Israel are released.
Saleh al-Arouri told Al Jazeera TV that the Israeli hostages held by Hamas are soldiers and civilians who previously served in the army.
However, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Hamas had violated its promise to release 17 women and children still held in Gaza.
targeting the south
Southern Gaza, including Khan Yunis and Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of people evacuated from the northern enclave had taken refuge, came under shelling on Saturday.
The Palestinian news agency, citing local sources, said warplanes bombed two homes in the Nuseyrat refugee camp, killing at least 13 people. Gaza health authorities say three Palestinians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a house in Rafah.
Reuters could not independently verify the account.
Hamas announced it had attacked Tel Aviv with rockets. There were no reports of damage, but emergency workers said one man was treated for shrapnel injuries in central Israel.
(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)