WASHINGTON — US Secretary of State Antony Blinken says there is “a gap” between what Israel pledged to do to protect Palestinian civilians and the results so far since it began intensive military operations against Hamas in the southern Gaza Strip.
Blinken says it remains “imperative” that Israel do more to ensure civilians are not killed or wounded as it seeks to eradicate Hamas from Gaza. He recalled that Israeli officials had assured him on a visit to Israel last week that they would take extra precautions to protect civilian life. He said he raised the issue again on Thursday.
“As we stand here almost a week into this campaign in the south and after the end of the humanitarian pause, it is imperative, it remains imperative, that Israel put a premium on civilian protection,” Blinken told reporters at a joint news conference in Washington with visiting British Foreign Secretary David Cameron.
“And there does remain a gap between exactly what I said when I was there, between the intent to protect civilians and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground,” he said.
A senior US State Department official said Blinken spoke earlier Thursday with Israel’s Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer to say the US was pleased with new deliveries of fuel to Gaza but still wants to see those and other assistance deliveries increased.
At the same time, Blinken told Dermer that civilian casualties remain too high and that Israel must step up its efforts to reduce them, according to the official who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity to discuss the private diplomatic discussion.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.