Blinken launches against Israel's position: 'Israeli forces should leave Gaza'

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. – US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday launched one of the strongest public criticisms yet of President Joe Biden's administration of Israel's conduct in the war in Gaza, noting that Israeli tactics have meant “a horrible loss of innocent civilian lives”, but they failed to neutralize Hamas leaders and fighters and could lead to a long-lasting insurgency.

In a pair of television interviews, Blinken stressed that the United States believes that Israeli forces should leave Gaza”, but also hopes to see credible plans from Israel for security and governance in the territory after the war.

Hamas has re-emerged in parts of Gaza, Blinken said, and that “intense action” of Israeli forces in Rafah risks leaving the US ally “with the responsibility of a lasting insurgency.”

He noted that the United States has worked with Arab and other countries for weeks to develop “credible plans for security, governance and reconstruction” in Gaza, but “we have not seen that come from Israel. We need to see that too.”

Blinken added that as Israel pushes deeper into Rafah in southern Gaza, a military operation may “have some initial success,” but runs the risk of “terribly harming” the population without solving a problem “which we both want to resolve, which is to ensure that Hamas cannot rule Gaza again.”

More than a million Palestinians have crowded into Rafah in the hope of finding refuge as Israeli forces cross Gaza. Israel has claimed that the city is also home to four battalions of Hamas fighters..

Blinken noted that Israel's conduct of the war has put the country “on the trajectory, potentially, of inheriting an insurgency with many armed Hamas or, if it leaves, a void filled with chaos, anarchy and likely filled by Hamas. “We have been talking to them about a much better way to get a long-lasting result and safety.”

Blinken also mentioned — the first time a senior official has addressed the issue publicly — a report the Biden administration submitted to Congress on Friday stating that Israel's use of U.S.-supplied weapons in Gaza likely violated international law. humanitarian.

The report also states that war conditions prevented US authorities from determining that with certainty in targeted airstrikes.

“With regard to the use of weapons, concern about incidents where, given the totality of the harm that has been caused to children, women and men, it was reasonable to assess that, in certain cases, Israel acted in ways that are not consistent with international humanitarian law,” Blinken said. He quoted “the horrible loss of lives of innocent civilians”.

Growing Israeli offensive in Rafah worries

Blinken spoke with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday and reiterated the United States' long-standing opposition to what is now the escalating Israeli offensive in Rafah, given the toll on civilians there, according to the State Department's account of the call.

Blinken urged Gallant to allow aid workers to bring aid to Gaza and distribute it. Israel's offensive in Rafah has closed one of the two main border crossings into the territory for a week, and most operations have stopped at the other after Hamas will attack him with missiles.

Seven months of fighting and Israeli restrictions on aid deliveries have already caused famine in northern Gaza. Aid organizations say the near-total suspension of food, medicine and fuel distribution and the Israeli offensive in Rafah have brought humanitarian operations across Gaza to the brink of collapse.

Biden's national security advisor, Jake Sullivanin a phone call Sunday with his Israeli counterpart Tzachi Hanegbi, expressed concern about a ground military operation in Rafah and discussed “alternative courses of action” that will ensure Hamas is defeated “in all parts of Gaza,” according to a summary of In the White House conversation, Hanegbi “confirmed that Israel is taking into account US concerns,” according to the White House.

The war began on October 7 after a Hamas attack on Israel that killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians. About 250 people were taken hostage. Israel has killed more than 35 thousand 000 Palestiniansmostly women and children, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Blinken appeared on CBS' “Face the Nation” and NBC's “Meet the Press.”