US Officials Express Concerns Over Israel’s Tactics and Call for More Protection of Civilians
As Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza enters a new phase, US officials are expressing deep concerns about the potential for civilian casualties. While the current phase is expected to last several weeks, the US is urging Israel to transition to a more targeted strategy that focuses on specific Hamas militants and leaders. The US has warned Israel that its international support is diminishing and that it must do more to limit civilian casualties. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has directly admonished Israel, stating that it can only win in urban warfare by protecting civilians. However, Israel maintains that its goal is to weaken Hamas to prevent future attacks.
Israel’s High-Intensity Operations Unsustainable
According to current US assessments, Israel cannot sustain its level of high-intensity operations indefinitely. The mobilized reservists and the need to respond to daily attacks by Hezbollah on its northern border are pushing Israel to transition to more targeted raids. US officials are hopeful that Israel will adopt a similar strategy to the US transition from high-intensity combat to a more narrow campaign against terrorist leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan. Israeli officials have indicated that this is their intention.
US Officials Counsel Israel on Targeting Gaza More Deliberately
US officials have been cautious in publicly criticizing Israel but have privately counseled them to target Gaza more deliberately and surgically. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Israel to take concrete steps to protect civilians during his visit to the region. In response, the Israeli Defense Forces unveiled an online map of Gaza to warn residents of specific areas to evacuate due to military operations. However, the map requires electricity and internet connectivity, which have been cut off in Gaza multiple times.
Assessment of Israel’s Tactics and Proportional Response
National security adviser Jake Sullivan acknowledged that Israel has identified the area for ground maneuvers and asked people in that area to evacuate. However, he declined to offer an assessment of whether Israel’s tactics have been more proportional since the truce with Hamas broke down and fighting resumed. US officials have claimed that Israel heeded their advice on conducting urban warfare and adjusted their initial plans for a wider operation in northern Gaza.
Conclusion: As Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza enters a new phase, concerns about civilian casualties persist. The US is urging Israel to transition to a more targeted strategy to limit harm to civilians, as international support for Israel’s campaign wanes. While Israel seeks to weaken Hamas, the achievement of this goal is unlikely by the end of the year. US officials continue to counsel Israel behind the scenes, hoping for a shift towards a more surgical approach. The coming weeks will be crucial in determining the direction and outcome of the conflict in Gaza.