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White House says Israel ‘making effort’ to protect Gaza civilians

  • More than 700 Palestinians killed in Gaza during last 24 hours, according to Director General of Govt Media Office in Gaza
  • Death toll in Gaza since start of Israel’s military offensive reaches 15,523, says health ministry
Published December 3, 2023
Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

WASHINGTON/GAZA STRIP: The White House believes Israel is “making an effort” to minimise civilian deaths in Gaza, a senior official said on Sunday, as international concern mounted over the numbers killed in the resumed war with Hamas.

Speaking on the US Sunday talk shows, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby also insisted that US intelligence was unaware of any secret, advance Hamas blueprint for its October 7 attack on Israel.

The New York Times reported last week that Israeli authorities had obtained such a document a year before the attack occurred.

According to Gaza authorities, more than 15,500 people have been killed in Gaza since the beginning of the war, but Kirby told ABC’s “This Week” that Israel had responded to US appeals to protect civilians.

UK to start Gaza surveillance flights to help find hostages

“We believe they have been receptive to our messages here of trying to minimalise civilian casualties,” he said, including by publishing online a map of places where Gazans could go to find safety.

“There’s not a whole lot of modern militaries that would do that… to telegraph their punches in that way. So they are making an effort.”

His comments came as Israel has resumed its intensive air and ground campaign following a week-long truce.

Ron Dermer, Israel’s minister of strategic affairs, insisted on ABC that efforts to minimise civilian casualties were deliberate and “unprecedented.”

“If we wanted to do it fast,” he said, “we’d harm a lot more civilians.”

International concern has been intensifying over the toll in Gaza.

“I cannot find words strong enough to express our concern over what we’re witnessing,” the head of the World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Sunday on X, formerly Twitter, demanding a “Ceasefire. NOW.”

Kirby was also asked about the New York Times report on the Hamas attack plan, which the newspaper said Israeli officials had dismissed as beyond the group’s ability to carry out.

“Our intelligence community is taking a look into that,” Kirby said, while adding that there were “no indications that we, the United States intelligence community, had any knowledge of that document beforehand or any visibility into it.”

The unprecedented October 7 assault on southern Israel killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians, according to Israeli authorities.

US defence chief says Israel must shield civilians to win in Gaza

On Sunday, Israel carried out deadly bombardments in as international calls mounted for greater protection of civilians and the renewal of an expired truce with Palestinian group Hamas.

The Israeli army said it had conducted more than 400 strikes in Gaza since a ceasefire collapsed on Friday.

Hamas and Palestinian group Islamic Jihad announced “rocket barrages” against multiple Israeli cities and towns including Tel Aviv, and Israel said that two of its soldiers had died in combat, the first since the end of the truce.

At least seven people were killed in an Israeli bombing early Sunday near Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, Gaza authorities said.

Israeli strikes also hit the Nuseirat refugee camp in central Gaza late Saturday, killing at least 13 people, according to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa.

US Vice President Kamala Harris on Saturday sharply rebuked the rising civilian toll in Israel’s eight-week war, sparked by an unprecedented attack on October 7.

Turkiye’s Erdogan rejects US pressure to cut Hamas ties

“Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed,” she told reporters at UN climate talks in Dubai.

“Frankly, the scale of civiliann suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating.”

An estimated 1.7 million people in Gaza – more than two-thirds of the population – have been displaced by war, according to the United Nations.

“I cannot find words strong enough to express our concern over what we’re witnessing,” the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Sunday on X, formerly Twitter.

Fadel Naim, chief doctor at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza City, said his morgue had received 30 bodies on Saturday, including seven children.

“The planes bombed our houses: three bombs, three houses destroyed,” Nemr al-Bel, 43, told AFP, adding he had counted 10 dead in his family and “13 more still under the rubble”.

Gazans are short of food, water and other essentials, and many homes have been destroyed. UN agencies have declared a humanitarian catastrophe, although some aid trucks did arrive Saturday.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said Israel had told NGOs not to bring aid convoys across the Rafah border crossing from Egypt after the truce expired.

But the charity said on Saturday its Egyptian colleagues had managed to send over a number of trucks.

Israel withdraws negotiators

Hamas fighters broke through Gaza’s militarised border into Israel on October 7, killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took around 240 Israelis and foreigners hostage, according to Israeli authorities.

Israel vowed to eliminate Hamas in response and unleashed an air and ground campaign that has killed more than 15,000 people, also mostly civilians, the Hamas authorities who run Gaza say.

A week-long truce, brokered with the help of Qatar and backed by Egypt and the United States, led to the release of 80 Israeli hostages in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners.

But that truce collapsed with both sides blaming each other for violating its conditions.

Israel said that Hamas had tried to fire a rocket before the ceasefire ended, and that it had failed to produce a list of further hostages for release.

Israeli negotiators left Doha on Saturday after reaching a dead end in talks aimed at securing a fresh pause in hostilities.

Gaza’s Hamas rulers say 3 journalists killed in Israeli raids

Israeli negotiators left Doha on Saturday after reaching a dead end in talks aimed at securing a fresh pause in hostilities. The Israeli army said 137 hostages were still being held in Gaza.

Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters on Saturday that fresh military action was needed to “create the conditions that push (Hamas) to pay a heavy price, and that is in the release of hostages”.

Israeli hostages released from Gaza spoke publicly on Saturday for the first time, urging their government to secure the release of the remaining captives.

“The moral obligation of this government is to bring them home immediately, without hesitation,” said Yocheved Lifschitz, 85, who was released by Hamas in October, before the truce deal.

French President Emmanuel Macron appealed for “stepped-up efforts to reach a lasting ceasefire” to free all hostages, allow in more aid and to assure Israel of its security.

He took issue with Israel’s stated war aims, warning that if the “total destruction of Hamas” in Gaza was the goal, “the war will last 10 years”.

‘Total victory’

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the war would continue “until we achieve all its aims” including eliminating the Islamist movement.

“Our soldiers prepared during the days of truce for total victory against Hamas,” he said in Tel Aviv on Saturday, at his first press conference since fighting resumed.

“There is no way to win except by continuing the ground campaign,” Netanyahu told reporters, underscoring that this would be done while “observing international law”.

Israel’s air, naval and ground forces have attacked more than 400 targets in Gaza since the ceasefire ended, the army said on Saturday.

The figure is roughly in line with the daily average number of strikes prior to the pause, according to military figures released previously.

Blinken says truce between Israel-Hamas is producing results

Warplanes hit “more than 50 targets in an extensive attack in the Khan Yunis area” of southern Gaza, according to the military.

Separately, members of an Israeli armoured brigade “eliminated terrorist squads and directed fire against terrorist targets in the north of the Gaza Strip”, the military said.

In the occupied West Bank, the Israeli army said troops shot dead a Palestinian at a checkpoint near the city of Nablus after he “drew a knife and started to advance towards them.”

Syria said Israel carried out air strikes near Damascus on Saturday.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard accused Israel of killing two of its members in Syria who it said had been on an “advisory mission”.


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Az_Iz Dec 04, 2023 12:11am
Whitewashing Israeli crimes.
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