WASHINGTON, Oct 29 (Reuters) – Israel has a responsibility to protect the lives of innocent people in Gaza, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday, amid growing outcry over the death of Palestinian civilians.
As the death toll in the Gaza Strip rises into the thousands and continues to rise, US President Joe Biden’s administration is under pressure. increasing pressure to make clear that its unwavering support for Israel does not translate into blanket approval of everything its ally does in the impoverished enclave in retaliation for the October 7 Hamas attack.
In a series of television interviews, Sullivan said Washington was asking tough questions of Israel, including on issues related to humanitarian aid, the distinction between terrorists and innocent civilians and how Israel thinks about its policies. Military operation.
“What we believe is that every hour, every day of this military operation, the Israeli army (Israel Defense Forces) should use every possible means at its disposal to distinguish between Hamas terrorists who are legitimate military targets and civilians who are legitimate military targets.” no,” Sullivan told CNN.
The United States has been clear on this issue and Biden will reiterate his position on Sunday in a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sullivan said.
Sullivan also said Netanyahu had a responsibility to “subdue” extremist Jewish settlers in the Israeli-occupied West Bank. “It is completely unacceptable that extremist settlers are raping innocent people in the West Bank,” he said.
Biden also faces pressure from within his own Democratic Party to call for a ceasefire.
As Israel’s largest military supporter, the United States bears some responsibility for its actions on the battlefield, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, head of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said on Meet the Press ” from NBC.
“We are losing credibility,” Jayapal said. “And frankly, we’re isolated from the rest of the world.”
The Hamas attack from Gaza, which killed 1,400 people, triggered a wave of aerial bombardments from Israel and the start of a ground operation. The Palestinian militant group also took more than 200 hostages.
Medical authorities in the Gaza Strip, which has a population of 2.3 million, say 8,005 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s campaign to wipe out Iran-backed Hamas.
The Hamas militants who control Gaza have integrated themselves into the Palestinian population and civilian infrastructure, making any operation against them extremely difficult, Sullivan said.
“This creates an additional burden for Israel, but it in no way diminishes Israel’s responsibility under international humanitarian law to distinguish between terrorists and civilians and to protect the lives of innocent people, i.e. that is, the overwhelming majority of the population of Gaza,” says Sullivan.
Israel strengthened its blockade and bombarded Gaza for three weeks. As supplies of food, water and medicine dwindle, thousands of Gaza residents broke into UN warehouses and distribution centers to obtain food.
There has been a growing international outcry over the consequences of the bombings and growing calls for a “humanitarian pause” to allow aid to reach civilians in Gaza.
In an interview on CBS, Sullivan was asked if there was any “daylight” between the United States and the Netanyahu government.
“We speak frankly, we have spoken directly, we share our views unvarnished and we will continue to do so,” Sullivan responded on “Face the Nation.”
“But sitting here in public, I will simply say that the United States will state its principles and its proposals absolutely clearly, including the sanctity of innocent human life. And then we will continue to provide our advice to Israel in private .”
Reporting by Doina Chiacu, additional reporting by Jasper Ward; Editing by Mary Milliken, Marguerita Choy and Grant McCool
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