Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Heads to Israel as US Urges Transition to Targeted Approach in Gaza

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Heads to Israel

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Heads to Israel, Over the weekend, France, the United Kingdom, and Germany, three of Israel’s closest friends, joined global calls for a cease-fire.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Heads to Israel as US Urges Transition 

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin Heads to IsraelOn a visit to Gaza on Monday, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin is anticipated to encourage Israel to end major combat operations, in the latest test of whether the US can use its steadfast support for the onslaught to mitigate its terrible impact on Palestinian civilians.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has reiterated that Israel will fight until Hamas is deposed, its military capabilities are crushed, and the approximately 129 captives still held by the group following the Oct. 7 incident that sparked the war are returned.

The United States has blocked international calls for a cease-fire and rushed weapons to its close partner while asking it to take extra precautions to protect civilians. Over 18,700 Palestinians have been murdered in the 10-week conflict against Hamas, and most of northern Gaza has been turned into a lunar landscape.

1.9 million Palestinians — about 85% of Gaza’s population — have evacuated their homes, with the majority settling in United Nations-run shelters and tent camps in the beleaguered territory’s south.

Austin is likely to press Israeli officials to switch to a more specific phase, with targeted operations aiming at killing Hamas leaders, destroying tunnels, and liberating hostages. Austin is traveling with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. CQ Brown.

Under US pressure, Israel offered more explicit evacuation instructions as forces pushed into the southern city of Khan Younis earlier this month, yet Palestinians believe there is no safe place in Gaza as Israel continues to carry out raids throughout the enclave.

Another request from the US was for Israel to reopen its primary cargo border with Gaza to enable more aid. Even though demands have increased and fighting has hampered delivery in many regions, the volume is still less than half of prewar imports.

The conflict began with an extraordinary surprise attack by Hamas on Israel’s border defenses. Thousands of terrorists attacked southern Israel, killing over 1,200 people, largely civilians, and kidnapping approximately 240 men, women, and children.

After Israel released 240 Palestinian inmates in exchange for a truce last month, Hamas and other extremists are still keeping an estimated 129 captives. Hamas has declared that no additional hostages will be released until the war is over.

According to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-run region, at than 18,700 Palestinians have been killed, with the majority being women and minors, and thousands more buried beneath the wreckage. The Ministry of Defence makes no distinction between civilian and combatant deaths.

Due to the Israeli military, 126 of its soldiers have been killed in the Gaza incursion. It claims to have killed thousands of insurgents but provides no evidence.

Israel blames the civilian casualties on Hamas, claiming that it utilizes them as human shields while operating in densely populated areas. However, the military rarely speaks out about individual strikes, which routinely kill women and children.

According to Munir al-Boursh, a top Health Ministry official, Israel bombed residential buildings in the urban Jabaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza on Sunday, killing at least 110 people.

In recent days, the neighborhood has experienced intense violence. “No one can retrieve the martyrs or take the wounded to hospitals,” Amal Radwan, who is sheltering at a United Nations shelter in Jabaliya, said.

Meanwhile, the military posted images of what it claimed was $1.3 million in Israeli currency discovered in the residence of a prominent Hamas operative in the camp.

The majority of Gaza’s hospitals have been rendered inoperable due to heavy warfare. Israel accuses militants of taking refuge in hospitals and has supplied evidence in several situations. Health officials refute the charges and claim that the army has irresponsibly put civilians in danger.

The World Health Organisation was “appalled” by an Israeli raid on the Kamal Adwan Hospital in northern Gaza over the last few days. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organisation, said late Sunday that at least eight patients had died, including a nine-year-old, and that more had escaped on foot because ambulances could not access the facility.

According to the military, troops working “in the area of the hospital” apprehended scores of suspected militants, some of whom were involved in the Oct. 7 attack, and seized “numerous” weapons. It claimed that Hamas exploited the facility as a command center but provided no evidence.

Last month, a similar standoff occurred at Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, the territory’s largest, leaving hundreds of patients and tens of thousands of displaced residents detained for days with minimal food, water, or medical supplies. According to Israel, Hamas hid a large command center inside the hospital and exposed what seemed to be a terrorist hideout beneath the building before retreating days later.

The World Health Organisation, which is attempting to restore services at Shifa and was allowed to visit on Friday, characterized the emergency department as a “bloodbath,” with hundreds of injured patients being sutured on the floor with little or no pain medication. Tens of thousands of people are thought to be sheltering at the medical campus despite severe food and water shortages.

Since the war began, Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah have exchanged fire along the border nearly every day, while other Iran-backed militant organizations have attacked US targets in Syria and Iraq. Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels have used rockets and drones to strike ships in the Red Sea, claiming a blockade of Israel.

Since the beginning of the battle, about 300 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and 2018 has been the worst year for Palestinians there since 2005. Most were slain during Israeli military raids, which frequently result in gunfights, or during violent protests.

Defense authorities in the United States are seeking to avoid a larger regional battle by maintaining a strong level of military presence and persuading Israel to scale back operations. President Joe Biden has expressed concern that Israel is losing international support as a result of its “indiscriminate bombing.”

Last Monday, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant stated that Israel would maintain heavy combat operations against Hamas for several months.





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