US criticizes Israel over civilian casualties in Gaza as UN hears ceasefire demand

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  • LATEST DEVELOPMENTS:
  • Palestinian Authority working with US on post-war plan for Gaza – Bloomberg
  • Israel says 92 soldiers have died in Gaza since ground war began on October 20

GAZA/WASHINGTON, Dec 8 (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, in his strongest public criticism of Israel’s conduct in the war against Hamas in southern Gaza, said there was a gap between declared intentions of the government to protect civilians and victims.

“As we stand here, almost a week into this campaign in the south… it remains imperative that Israel prioritize the protection of civilians,” Blinken said at a news conference after meeting the British foreign secretary. , David Cameron, in Washington on Thursday.

“And there remains a gap between … the intent to protect civilians and the actual results we are seeing on the ground.”

Israel says it must eliminate the Hamas militant group after its attack on Israel two months ago and is doing everything it can to get civilians out of harm’s way, including warnings about military operations.

US President Joe Biden spoke separately by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Jordan on Thursday. Biden “emphasized the critical need to protect civilians and separate the civilian population from Hamas, including through corridors that allow people to move safely from defined areas of hostilities,” the White House said.

More than 17,170 Palestinians have been killed and 46,000 wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, since October 7, when Israel began bombing Gaza in response to a cross-border attack by Iranian-backed Hamas militants who control the enclave. The Hamas attack killed 1,200 people and 240 people were taken hostage, according to Israel’s count.

The Israeli military said on Friday that 92 of its soldiers had been killed in fighting in Gaza since its ground incursions began on October 20.

CEASE-FIRE DEMAND AT UN WHILE FIGHTING IN GAZA ADVANCES

Hundreds more Palestinians were delicate as Israel fought Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip’s largest cities on Thursday – 350 people, according to Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra. Israel said its forces killed several gunmen in Khan Younis, including two who came out shooting from a tunnel.

Arab states have renewed their pressure for an immediate humanitarian solution. Stop the fire In Gaza, the United Arab Emirates asked the UN Security Council to vote on a draft resolution on Friday morning.

The United States and its ally Israel oppose a ceasefire, saying it would only benefit Hamas. Blinken is scheduled to meet on Friday in Washington with top diplomats from Arab states, including Egypt.

The draft was amended to say that “Palestinian and Israeli civilian populations must be protected in accordance with international humanitarian law” and “demand the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.”

To be adopted, a resolution needs at least nine votes in favor and no vetoes from the five permanent members (the United States, Russia, China, France or Great Britain). The United States does not support any additional action by the council at this time.

As pressure mounts on Israel over the civilian cost of its war to destroy Hamas, the Palestinian Authority is working with U.S. officials on a plan to execute Gaza after the war ends, Bloomberg News reported.

Quoting Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh, he said the preferred outcome would be for Hamas to become a junior partner of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), helping to build a new independent state including the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

“If they (Hamas) are willing to reach an agreement and accept the political platform of the PLO, then there will be room for dialogue. The Palestinians should not be divided,” Shtayyeh said, adding that Israel’s goal of completely defeating Hamas It’s not realistic. .

OPEN THE KEREM SHALOM BORDER CROSSING

In a development that should help pave the way for more humanitarian aid to reach Gaza, Israel has accepted a request from the United States to open Kerem Shalom. border crossing for the inspection of trucks and their cargo, a US official said Thursday.

Egypt, along with the United Nations, has been pressing Israel to speed up an inspection process, which requires vehicles to head to Egypt’s border with Israel before returning to Rafah. The number of trucks crossing daily has dropped to less than 100, from almost 200 between November 24 and December 24. 1 truce, according to the United Nations.

Kerem Shalom lies on Gaza’s southern border with Israel and Egypt and the crossing was used to transport more than 60% of the trucks entering Gaza before the war broke out two months ago.

With no end in sight to the fighting, a senior White House national security adviser, Jon Finer, said the United States had not given Israel a firm deadline to end major conflicts. combat operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Many “legitimate military targets” remain in southern Gaza, including “many, if not most,” of the Hamas leadershipFiner said at the Aspen Security Forum in Washington.

Meanwhile, hostages still held by Hamas have been held incommunicado in Gaza despite Israel’s calls for the Red Cross to arrange visits and check on their well-being.

Two months after the Hamas attack, the start of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah was a solemn moment for many in Israel.

Idit Ohel, whose 22-year-old son Alon was kidnapped by Hamas gunmen at an open-air music festival where 364 people were killed, said he was hoping for a miracle.

“He doesn’t know it’s Hanukkah. I don’t think he knows the days, what the day is or what the night is,” Ohel said. “But he is in our hearts all the time.”

Reporting by Bassam Masoud in Gaza, Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem, Humeyra Pamuk and Simon Lewis in Washington; Ahmed Mohamed Hassan in Cairo, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations and Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber in Geneva; written by Grant McCool and Stephenj Coates; editing by Diane Craft

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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Humeyra Pamuk is a senior foreign policy correspondent based in Washington DC. He covers the US State Department and travels regularly with the US Secretary of State. During his 20 years at Reuters, he has held posts in London, Dubai, Cairo and Turkey, covering everything from the Arab Spring and the Syrian civil war to numerous Turkish elections and the Kurdish insurgency in the southeast. In 2017, she won the Knight-Bagehot fellowship program at Columbia University School of Journalism. She has a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and a master’s degree in European Union studies.

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