‘Mustn’t repeat scale of destruction as North Gaza': Blinken to Israeli leaders
Israel is believed to be preparing to extend its military campaign farther into Gaza’s south
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he told Israeli leaders they must not repeat the scale of destruction and displacement inflicted on the northern Gaza Strip as they prepare a new push to eradicate Hamas.
“I underscored the imperative that the massive loss of civilian life and displacement on the scale that we saw in northern Gaza not be repeated,” Blinken said during a briefing after meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet in Tel Aviv on Thursday.
Israel and Hamas are in the middle of a truce that’s lasted about seven days and seen the release of dozens of hostages and prisoners on both sides. Israel is believed to be preparing to extend its military campaign farther into Gaza’s south as it looks to eradicate Hamas, labeled a terrorist group by the US and the European Union, in the wake of the group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
Blinken said Israel had agreed to the US demand to develop a plan that “puts a premium on protecting civilians,” adding that the country’s military — which he called one of the world’s most sophisticated — must avoid damage to critical infrastructure.
The comments marked a further shift in tone by the Biden administration as officials grow increasingly alarmed about devastation Israel’s campaign has inflicted on northern Gaza in the weeks since it launched a campaign to eradicate Hamas. Gaza’s Hamas-run health authorities say more than 15,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began.