Friday, June 14, 2024

US warns that Israel risks ‘strategic defeat’ unless it protects civilians in Gaza

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US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has warned Israel that it dangers “strategic defeat” except 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 mentioned Israel would solely win if it protected civilians and created humanitarian corridors.

“In this type of a combat, the centre of gravity is the civilian inhabitants. And when you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you substitute a tactical victory with a strategic defeat,” Austin mentioned 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 type of mass inner displacement triggered by their bombardment of Gaza’s north. They’ve urged Israel to be extra exact within the subsequent part of its marketing campaign.

Austin and different US army officers have invoked classes discovered in Washington’s combat towards Islamic State in Iraq, which concerned intense city fight.

Lloyd Austin mentioned city warfare was winnable provided that the civilian inhabitants was protected © AP

“Like Hamas, ISIS was deeply embedded in city areas. And the worldwide coalition towards ISIS labored arduous to guard civilians and create humanitarian corridors, even in the course of the hardest battles,” mentioned Austin, who’s a former commander of US forces within the Center East.

“The lesson shouldn’t be which you could win in city warfare by defending civilians. The lesson is which you could solely win in city warfare by defending civilians.”

US secretary of state Antony Blinken mentioned on Friday that Israel had shared with him its plans about how one can defend civilians within the subsequent part of the army effort, and mentioned the US would monitor the continued marketing campaign carefully.

Biden is underneath growing stress from inside his administration and the Democratic get together to do extra to constrain Israel.

“It’s crucial 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 mentioned.

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 mentioned.

Israel’s army mentioned it had hit a number of “terror targets” in northern Gaza, together with a mosque it mentioned 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, during which the militant group kidnapped 240 individuals and killed 1,200 in southern Israel.

In the course of the non permanent ceasefire Hamas freed 84 ladies and youngsters whereas Israel launched about 240 Palestinian ladies and youngsters from jail. The Israel Protection Forces mentioned Hamas was nonetheless holding 136 individuals hostage, amongst them 17 ladies and youngsters. The rest of the hostages are primarily Israeli troopers and reservists.

Israel’s defence minister Yoav Gallant mentioned the army marketing campaign was degrading Hamas’ capabilities in addition to forcing it to barter over hostages.

“By way of our army motion, we additionally create the situations that push [Hamas] to pay a heavy value, and that’s within the launch of hostages,” he mentioned.

He asserted that Israel had killed “1000’s” of Hamas fighters, “struck dozens of headquarters” and detained “lots of” of operatives.

The UK authorities mentioned it might conduct army surveillance flights over Gaza to assist the hostage rescue operation. British nationals are amongst these held. The UK Ministry of Defence mentioned solely data associated to hostage rescue could be handed to Israel.

Further reporting by Chloe Cornish in Jerusalem and Lucy Fisher in London

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