ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 149

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Jon Finer: ‘Aspects of IDF campaign in north didn’t show sufficient care for civilian life’

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing following Israeli strikes in Khan Younis on the southern Gaza Strip on December 7, 2023. (Said Khatib/AFP)
A picture taken from Rafah shows smoke billowing following Israeli strikes in Khan Younis on the southern Gaza Strip on December 7, 2023. (Said Khatib/AFP)

US Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer says there “there are many legitimate military targets that remain” in south Gaza, including much of Hamas’s leadership.

He reiterates the US expectation that Israel learn and apply lessons from its fighting in north Gaza to its ongoing operations in the southern Strip.

“There have been aspects of how the conflict was conducted in the north that we think did not show sufficient care for civilian life and those aspects should be ameliorated in the south,” Finer tells the Aspen Security Forum, adding that Israel has a particular responsibility to protect civilians in the lower half of Gaza since it directed roughly one million Gazans to migrate there so that the IDF could operate more easily in the north.

Pressed whether Israel has heeded these warnings, Finer begins by arguing that US power is limited.

“It’s important to understand what the role is of the United States. We have influence — no doubt — over how this war is conducted. We do not have complete control,” he says.

However, he notes progress on humanitarian aid delivery, the exit of thousands of foreign nationals out of Gaza along with a seven-day truce during which over 100 hostages were released.

“I don’t think any of those developments would have taken place without the direct intervention of the United States,” Finer says.

He adds that “there should be significantly more humanitarian assistance going into Gaza than is currently.”

This should include not just basic humanitarian goods, but also commercial goods, which haven’t entered the Strip since the war’s outbreak.

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