Blinken said to tell Israel to change strategy for southern Gaza, suggest it won’t have months to win war

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the latter's office in Jerusalem on November 30, 2023. (Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the latter's office in Jerusalem on November 30, 2023. (Amos Ben-Gershom / GPO)

According to leaked remarks from today’s war cabinet meeting, attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Blinken told Israel it cannot operate in southern Gaza in the way it has done in the north — a presumed reference to the heavy air bombardment and crushing ground operation — and indicated that Israel has weeks, not months, to complete its declared mission of destroying Hamas.

The US Administration has repeatedly backed Israel’s goal of eliminating Hamas in the wake of the terror group’s October 7 slaughter of 1,200 Israelis, but has indicated it is increasingly troubled by the civilian fatalities and widespread destruction in the Hamas-run strip.

Blinken’s reported remarks are quoted only in Hebrew translation by Channel 12 news, and have been translated back into English here:

Blinken: You can’t operate in southern Gaza in the way you did in the north. There are two million Palestinians there. You need to evacuate fewer people from their homes, be more accurate in the attacks, not hit UN facilities, and ensure that there are enough protected areas [for civilians]. And if not? Then not to attack where there is a civilian population. What is your system of operation?

IDF Chief Herzi Halevi: We follow a number of principles — proportionality, distinction, and the laws of war. There were instances where we attacked on the basis of those principles, and instances where we decided not to attack, because we waited for a better opportunity.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant: The entire Israeli society is united behind the goal of dismantling Hamas, even if it takes months.

Blinken: I don’t think you have the credit for that.

The secretary also reportedly pressed the cabinet over Israel’s plans for a post-war Gaza.

Blinken: You don’t want the Palestinian Authority on the day after. We understand that. The best way to kill an idea is to bring a better idea. The other states in the region need to know what you are planning.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: As long as I’m sitting in this chair, the Palestinian Authority, which supports, educates and finances terror, will not rule Gaza on the day after Hamas.

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