When US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed his regret Civilian death toll in Gaza On Friday, it marked a subtle but noticeable shift in American language toward the Israeli government.
For weeks, the Biden administration has strongly supported the military offensive launched by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of a brutal attack by Hamas, but the rising death toll in the besieged Strip and massive pro-Palestinian protests around the world, Discomfort growing inside the White House It has put great pressure on the United States’ position.
Too many Palestinians have been killed. “Too many people have suffered in recent weeks,” the top US diplomat in New Delhi said. “We want to do everything possible to prevent harm and maximize the assistance that reaches them.”
Blinken added: “To this end, we will continue to discuss with Israel the concrete steps that must be taken to achieve these goals.”
Administration officials say they have achieved success in some areas as they work to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The White House said so on Thursday Israel had agreed to take action Forward with daily four hours Military operations stopped In the areas of northern Gaza.
But the Biden administration’s continued pressure on Israel to improve its war plans and define its goals in Gaza has not resulted in the level of clarity that many American officials want.
So far, more than 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah, drawing from sources in Hamas-controlled territory.
The ferocity of the military operation shows no sign of abating. Friday, Israeli tanks surrounded a hospital in GazaIts director told CNN, at a time when the largest health care facility in the region was subjected to a reported “bombing.”
Mustafa Al-Kahlot, who heads Al-Nasr Hospital and Al-Rantisi Children’s Hospital in northern Gaza, told CNN they were surrounded and asked the Red Cross to help with the evacuation. Al-Kahlot said: “We are completely surrounded, there are tanks outside the hospital, and we cannot leave.”
The Israeli military said that Hamas was integrating itself into civilian infrastructure and that it would strike Hamas “wherever necessary.” CNN cannot verify these claims.
Netanyahu insisted Thursday that he would be there.No ceasefireWithout releasing hostages held by Hamas.
A growing number of Israelis share this view, saying their country must immediately begin negotiations with Hamas for the release of hostages held in Gaza — but must continue to fight during the negotiations. reconnaissance Friday suggested posting.
Nearly four in 10 Israelis (38%) expressed their opinion in a poll conducted by the foundation Viterbi Family Center for Public Opinion and Policy Research at the Israel Democracy Institute. This is up from 32% who say Israel should negotiate during fighting when the poll was last conducted about two weeks ago.
“The fighting continues and there will be no ceasefire without the release of our hostages,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
But so far A broader agreement to free the hostages has proven elusive, and frustration with the government’s response is growing.
CNN reported on Friday that the parties involved in the ongoing negotiations to secure the release of the hostages are: Work towards reaching an agreement A senior US official familiar with the talks said this would require a sustained cessation of fighting for days in exchange for the release of a large group of hostages.
The official said that if an agreement is reached, the hostages would be exited from Gaza in phases on a rolling basis — with priority given to additional vulnerable groups such as children and women — in a process expected to take several days.
However, they have repeatedly warned that the talks could falter or deteriorate at any time: “It has been close before. There is no certainty at all.”
Meanwhile, major world cities, including London, Istanbul, New York, Baghdad and Rome, saw their centers filled with pro-Palestinian demonstrators demanding a ceasefire, with more protests planned for this weekend.
Video from the demonstration In Washington, D.C., last weekend saw a massive crowd, many wearing keffiyehs — a patterned scarf that has become a symbol of Palestinian identity — and carrying Palestinian flags. The audience read banners “Stop the massacre” and “Long live Gaza.”
Many protesters addressed Biden directly, chanting slogans such as “Biden, Biden, you can’t hide, we accuse you of genocide” and “No ceasefire, no vote.”
After Biden confronted a protester who called for a ceasefire at a private fundraiser last week, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that “the president understands that there are strong emotions and sentiments here, everywhere, across the board — and here in… Inside”. “The administration and the federal government, that is certainly the case as well.”
“We’ve been reaching out to partners, organizations, experts, analysts, and people with different viewpoints, to listen to their concerns and make sure we understand them as we develop policy,” Kirby said.
Concerns about the widening scope of the conflict and the potential for further diplomatic repercussions abroad also remain top U.S. priorities.
the Biden administration She received strong warnings from American diplomats in the Arab world that her support was too strong Israeli military campaign “The Arab public is losing us for a generation,” according to a diplomatic cable obtained by CNN.
The cable warns that US support for Israel’s actions is seen as “material and moral responsibility for what they consider possible war crimes.”
In the Middle East, Iranian proxy groups have intensified their attacks on American forces and assets in the region in recent weeks following the Hamas attack on Israel.
US and coalition bases in Iraq and Syria have been attacked at least 40 times since October 17, leaving several US soldiers with traumatic brain and other injuries, all minor, officials said.
The two American air strikes aimed at deterring the attacks did not succeed in stopping the militias.
On Thursday, a US official told CNN that US and coalition forces At least four were attacked More than once after the latest US strike in eastern Syria on Wednesday.
Blinken stressed on Friday that the United States “will remain relentlessly focused on repatriating our hostages” and preventing the conflict from expanding.
Speaking in India on Friday, Blinken insisted that “some progress has been made” in the week since his meeting in Tel Aviv with Netanyahu and other Israeli officials, but that “this is a process and you don’t always hit a light switch.”
However, public messaging – from Blinken and other US officials – continued to emphasize Israel’s right to defend itself and reject any calls for a ceasefire.
There are public and private admissions from the administration that there can be no cessation of fighting now that the next phase of the offensive has begun.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Blinken sought to clarify that position, even as pressure continues to mount at home and abroad.
“Those demanding an immediate ceasefire have an obligation to explain how to deal with the unacceptable outcome that is likely to come.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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