The United States has seen some improvements in the way Israel has conducted military operations in southern Gaza but it was too early to make a definitive assessment of whether or not Israel was heeding US calls to protect civilians, a State Department spokesperson said on Monday.
Washington had seen some aspects of Israel’s operations in south Gaza that do not look like the earlier assault on the north, spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a news briefing. Israel’s targeted evacuations compared to telling an entire city to vacate were an improvement, he added.
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Last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his latest visit to Israel that Israel’s military operations in southern Gaza must not repeat what occurred in the north.
“What we mean by that we do not want to see the same level of civilian casualties, we do not want to see the same level of mass displacement,” Miller said.
“They briefed on plans that were very detailed that they said were intended to avoid mass displacement and civilian casualties. But as the Secretary made clear, it’s not just intent that matters, it’s results and we’re watching very closely,” Miller said.
About 900 people have been killed, however, in Israeli air strikes since a week-long truce ended on Friday, Gaza health authorities said. Intense Israeli air strikes hit the south of the Gaza Strip, killing and wounding dozens of Palestinians, including in areas where Israel had told people to seek shelter, residents and journalists on the ground said.
Miller also said Washington has not seen evidence that Israel is intentionally killing civilians. Miller added that the US government still expected civilian casualties. “That is sadly true of all wars,” he said.
In comments on the occupied West Bank, Miller said that steps taken by Israeli authorities to address attacks by Israeli settlers on Palestinians were insufficient.
Israel has sworn to annihilate Hamas in response to the Oct. 7 rampage by the militant group, when Israel says gunmen killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages. Hamas, sworn to Israel’s destruction, has ruled Gaza since 2007.
Israel’s assault has laid waste to much of Gaza. The Gaza health ministry said at least 15,899 Palestinians, 70 percent of them women or under 18, have now been killed in Israeli bombardments in eight weeks of warfare. Thousands more are missing and feared buried in rubble.
Miller said that more than 1,000 US citizens, legal permanent residents and their family members have left Gaza, while 750 others remain.
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