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US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has warned Israel that it dangers “strategic defeat” until it protects Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
In an indication of rising tensions between the shut allies as Israel resumes its army marketing campaign in southern Gaza, Austin stated Israel would solely win if it protected civilians and created humanitarian corridors.
“In this type of a battle, the centre of gravity is the civilian inhabitants. And should you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you exchange a tactical victory with a strategic defeat,” Austin stated in a speech to the Reagan Nationwide Protection Discussion board in California.
US president Joe Biden and different senior American officers have warned their Israeli counterparts that they need to keep away from the form of mass inner displacement triggered by their bombardment of Gaza’s north. They’ve urged Israel to be extra exact within the subsequent section of its marketing campaign.
Austin and different US army officers have invoked classes realized in Washington’s battle in opposition to Islamic State in Iraq, which concerned intense city fight.
“Like Hamas, ISIS was deeply embedded in city areas. And the worldwide coalition in opposition to ISIS labored onerous to guard civilians and create humanitarian corridors, even throughout the hardest battles,” stated Austin, who’s a former commander of US forces within the Center East.
“The lesson shouldn’t be that you may win in city warfare by defending civilians. The lesson is that you may solely win in city warfare by defending civilians.”
US secretary of state Antony Blinken stated on Friday that Israel had shared with him its plans about methods to shield civilians within the subsequent section of the army effort, and stated the US would monitor the continued marketing campaign intently.
Biden is below growing stress from inside his administration and the Democratic celebration to do extra to constrain Israel.
“It’s vital that Israel defeats Hamas. In the event that they proceed killing this many civilians, they’re going to make them stronger,” Democratic congressman Seth Moulton stated.
The Israeli army intensified air strikes in southern Gaza on Saturday and ordered residents of some Palestinian border cities to go away their houses.
Because the breakdown of the truce on Friday, Israel’s renewed offensive in Gaza has killed 193 individuals, Palestinian well being officers stated.
Israel’s army stated it had hit a number of “terror targets” in northern Gaza, together with a mosque it stated was getting used as a command centre by militants. It added that its jets “struck over 50 targets within the space of Khan Younis” in southern Gaza in a single day.
Palestinian well being officers say greater than 15,200 individuals have been killed by Israel’s army response to the assaults by Hamas on October 7, by which the militant group kidnapped 240 individuals and killed 1,200 in southern Israel.
Throughout the short-term ceasefire Hamas freed 84 girls and youngsters whereas Israel launched about 240 Palestinian girls and youngsters from jail. The Israel Protection Forces stated Hamas was nonetheless holding 136 individuals hostage, amongst them 17 girls and youngsters. The rest of the hostages are primarily Israeli troopers and reservists.
Israel’s defence minister Yoav Gallant stated the army marketing campaign was degrading Hamas’ capabilities in addition to forcing it to barter over hostages.
“Via our army motion, we additionally create the situations that push [Hamas] to pay a heavy worth, and that’s within the launch of hostages,” he stated.
He asserted that Israel had killed “hundreds” of Hamas fighters, “struck dozens of headquarters” and detained “a whole bunch” of operatives.
The UK authorities stated it will conduct army surveillance flights over Gaza to assist the hostage rescue operation. British nationals are amongst these held. The UK Ministry of Defence stated solely info associated to hostage rescue can be handed to Israel.
Further reporting by Chloe Cornish in Jerusalem and Lucy Fisher in London