White House ‘alarmed’ by Catholic patriarch’s claim that Israel killed 2 at Gaza church

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

The US has raised its “deep concern” with Israel over a deadly incident over the weekend in which the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem asserted that an elderly Christian woman and her daughter were shot and killed by an Israeli sniper on the grounds of a Catholic church in Gaza City.

The IDF has refuted the claim, saying that it does not target civilians and that it received no reports from its soldiers regarding a hit on the church in question.

Kirby called reports of the two women killed “alarming” and reiterated the US call for Israel to take additional steps to protect civilians.

“We have raised our concerns about this particular incident with the Israeli government about the need for those who have injuries or who have been wounded to be able to be safely evacuated so that they can receive appropriate medical treatment,” Kirby says during a press briefing.

He adds that it continues to be in touch with Israel about establishing and maintaining deconfliction channels to protect civilians and allow for the flow of aid during the fighting. “More can be done” by Israel on the issue, Kirby says.

At the same time, Kirby pushes back against reporters’ attempts to equate the killings of Palestinian civilians by the IDF to the killings of Israeli civilians by Hamas.

“We haven’t seen any evidence that the Israelis are making it an aim of war… to go out and slaughter innocent people. It is happening, and people are being killed, people are being wounded, and we recognize that. But that’s a far cry from saying it’s part of the war aims, as it is for Putin and as it is for Hamas,” Kirby says.

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