Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday that there is a “gap” between Israel’s “intent to protect civilians” in Gaza and what Israel is doing “on the ground.”
Blinken was speaking at a joint conference with the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary David Cameron to discuss Ukraine, NATO and the conflict in Israel and Gaza. Blinken was asked about his previous comments about how the “massive loss of civilian life” in Northern Gaza “[must] not be repeated,” and he replied that while Israel had taken measures to protect civilians, there was a disconnect between that and the “results on the ground.”
“Having said that,” Blinken said, “as we stand here almost a week into this campaign in the south after the end of the humanitarian pause … it remains imperative that Israel put a premium on civilian protection. And there does remain a gap between exactly what I said when I was there, the intent to protect civilians, and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground.”
The secretary did note that Israel has been evacuating entire neighborhoods and creating “deconfliction areas” for civilians to get out of the firing zone. However, he said that the department felt that having “daily pauses” and pushing through more humanitarian aid were areas that needed to be expanded upon.
Blinken said that the administration was in regular contact with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on these matters, pointing to President Joe Biden’s call with the Israeli leader earlier that day, according to the readout. He explained that they are aware of the “extraordinary difficulty of this task as Israel is dealing with a terrorist adversary” but went on to say that “Israel has an obligation to do everything possible to put a premium on protecting civilians and maximizing humanitarian assistance.”
The fighting in the area had a brief seven-day pause after Israel and Hamas agreed to ceasefire terms in order to exchange hostages taken by Hamas and Palestinian prisoners. The ceasefire was reportedly broken on more than one occasion by Hamas, who claimed that Israel was breaking the agreement as well and the fighting resumed entirely on Dec. 1, according to NBC News.
The State Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
Kate Anderson on December 8, 2023