Amid tensions between US, Israel, Pentagon pushes for new approach in Gaza

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Tuesday urged Israel to abandon plans for a major ground offensive against Israel Hamas The Biden administration is trying to contain an escalating humanitarian crisis and crack down on militants in southern Gaza amid tensions between the United States and its closest Middle East allies.

In talks with Defense Secretary Yoav Galant at the Pentagon, Austin stressed the need to avoid exacerbating what he called the deepening “catastrophe” in Gaza, amid Israel’s military response to Hamas’ bloody cross-border actions. Civilians faced widespread hunger, disease, and danger. Attacked on October 7th.

echo warning Austin said the Biden administration has been working for months to protect civilians in Hamas-controlled strips as a “moral necessity and a strategic imperative.”Local authorities do not distinguish between civilians and combatants, saying more than 30,000 people have been killed and suppressed there Israel will pursue less destructive alternatives to a massive military offensive on the southern city of Rafah.

“Today in Gaza, the number of civilian casualties is too high and the amount of humanitarian aid is too low,” he added.

Galante’s visit to Washington this week takes on added importance after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Angry over US decision to allow UN Security Council to pass a resolution Calls for an unconditional ceasefire in Gaza, abruptly cancels visit of a high-level delegation President Biden Invited to discuss Israel’s plans for operations in Rafah, Hamas’ last stronghold.

that decision, U.S. officials were surprised, exacerbating already tense relations between the Biden administration and Netanyahu’s far-right government. The two sides disagree over Israel’s settlement policy and its rejection of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Galante is a political rival of Netanyahu and a member of Israel’s special war cabinet formed after the Oct. 7 attack. He cited the numerous threats Israel faces, including from the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, and the need to maintain Israel’s military advantage over its adversaries. .

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The United States has already made Over 100 weapons delivered Been in Israel since the war began.

Later in the day, Galante told reporters that the ground operation in Gaza had two goals: to weaken Hamas’s military capabilities and to secure the release of the remaining hostages. On October 7, at least 1,200 people were killed and 253 were taken hostage.

Galante said it was important to deter Israel and the United States from their common adversaries. “Our enemies need to know that this war will end with the destruction of Hamas,” he told reporters.

He described Gaza’s main humanitarian problem as the distribution of aid once it enters the Strip, blaming Hamas for the problems. While U.S. officials have cited some progress in recent weeks, for months they have placed much of the blame on Israel’s failure to deliver needed aid more effectively.

A senior defense official told reporters after the meeting that the Biden administration supports Israel’s goal of dismantling the remaining Hamas camp in Rafah but that “finding alternative ways to protect Palestinian civilians” is “really a top priority.” The person spoke on condition of anonymity to share insights into the discussions between the two leaders.

Austin, an Army general who oversaw counterinsurgency operations in the Middle East and Afghanistan, has extensive experience fighting militant groups as well as the U.S.’s own struggle to avoid civilian casualties. The U.S. campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria began when Austin was the top military official in the Middle East, according to the watchdog group Air Warfare. May have killed at least 8,000 civilians.

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The Biden administration hopes to use these lessons to limit civilian deaths in Gaza.

The senior defense official declined to elaborate on the alternatives the administration was proposing to Israel, but cited a sequence of humanitarian and military operations; strengthening security along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt; and “precise targeting” of militant leaders. He said discussions about action would continue. It was unclear whether the discussions included detailed military plans.

The conflict in Gaza has intensified the debate over the extent to which the United States must go to ensure that partners who receive U.S. arms and military support comply with international norms, including the laws of war.

The defense official declined to say whether the United States would impose conditions on military aid to Israel if Israel does not comply with U.S. demands, but cited Israel’s commitment to abide by international law.

The conflict also puts political pressure on Netanyahu, who faces demands to secure the release of remaining hostages, and Biden, who faces internal criticism within the Democratic Party over the Palestinian death toll as he seeks re-election. criticize.

In his request, Austin reiterated U.S. support for Israel and the goal of ensuring that Hamas does not engage in such violence again. He noted that he had visited Israel twice since the October 7 attacks.

“The United States is Israel’s closest friend and that will not change,” Austin said.

Galante, who Defense Department officials called a “good friend” of Austin, met with national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday. He is expected to meet with CIA Director William J. Burns on Tuesday.

Dan Lamothe and Alex Horton contributed to this report.

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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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