June 25, 2024

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US tells Israel southern Gaza offensive must not worsen refugee crisis

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President Joe Biden and other senior American officials have warned Israel that its planned offensive in southern Gaza must avoid the kind of internal displacement triggered by the bombardment of the enclave’s northern areas, a senior US administration official has said.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken will press for protection for civilians in Gaza as well as call for more aid to be delivered on an expected visit to Israel, the West Bank and the United Arab Emirates this week.

US officials acknowledge that Israel intends to resume its plan to eliminate Hamas after the current pause in fighting but have told Israel it must not worsen the humanitarian crisis when and if its army moves into southern Gaza.

Israeli officials have been receptive to the US concerns, the senior administration official said on Monday.

“There is an understanding that a different type of campaign has to be conducted in the south than was conducted in the north,” the official added. “It is extremely important . . . that the conduct of the Israeli campaign when it moves to the south, must be done in a way that is to a maximum extent not designed to produce significant further displacement of persons.”

The US would maintain its support for Israel’s goal of destroying Hamas, but also continue urging the Israel Defense Forces to avoid civilian casualties, officials said.

“The manner of the campaign has to be extremely carefully thought through,” the official said, adding that humanitarian sites, hospitals, power and water networks and other facilities “including the many UN-supported shelters throughout central Gaza” should be protected.

Palestinian authorities say at least 14,800 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, have been killed since Israel launched its military response to Hamas’s surprise October 7 attack, which…

2023-11-28 05:00:24

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