The Joe Biden administration in the US, while supporting Israel in its war with Hamas, wants Israel to end its large-scale invasion in Gaza as its apparently hurting civilians in what the west describes as “collective punishment”.
US officials stressed on surgical, focussed and targeted attacks on Hamas while protecting the civilians in the enclave.
The Biden administration has told the Israeli government that it wants the country to end its large-scale ground campaign in Gaza and a transition to a more targeted phase of its war against Hamas.
The push comes as the death toll in the Gaza Strip approaches 20,000 — two-thirds of them women and children — according to local health officials.
About 1,200 people in Israel were killed in October 7 Hamas attack, according to the Israeli Defense Forces.
The White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan did not specify a timetable for this new phase of the war during his meeting Thursday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, two officials with knowledge of the discussions told the NBC news.
Sullivan had “a heavy discussion” about civilian protection with Israeli officials, a senior administration official said Thursday on a call with reporters.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Sullivan spoke with Netanyahu about “the next phase of Israel’s military campaign, and he asked hard questions, as we have been doing, about what all that could look like”. Sullivan was briefing the press Thursday at the White House.
US President Joe Biden told reporters at an unrelated event Thursday: “I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives. Not stop going after Hamas — but be more careful.”
President Biden was asked whether he wanted Israel to scale back its assault on Gaza.
“Kirby said that Sullivan also discussed Israel’s efforts now undertaking to be more surgical and precise in their targeting and efforts that they are taking to help increase the flow of aid,” Biden said.
“There was a discussion in these meetings — and also in our prior meetings and in calls between the president and the prime minister — on kind of shifts and emphasis from … high intensity clearance operations, which are ongoing now, to ultimately lower-intensity focus on high-value targets, intelligence-driven raids and those sorts of more-narrow surgical military objectives,” the senior administration official said.
US officials acknowledge it will take months for Israel to take out Hamas leaders, an effort that will continue even if the high-intensity phase of the war moves to a more surgical one.
The debate over the pace of the war comes after Biden warned earlier this week in a speech to campaign donors that Israel was losing global support because of “indiscriminate bombing”.