During a press conference in Tel Aviv, US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan emphasized the United States' expectation for Israel to effectively minimize civilian casualties in its military actions in Gaza. This statement comes amidst heightened tensions in the region and reflects the US's stance on the complexities of the conflict.
Balancing Military Actions and Civilian Safety
Sullivan addressed the intricate challenges faced by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in differentiating between Hamas targets and civilian areas.
“Israel selects targets and tries to distinguish between targets that hit Hamas, and those that might take the lives of innocent civilians,” Sullivan stated in response to a question.
He added, “What we have consistently said is that Israel has the intent to make sure that it is drawing those distinctions clearly and in a sustainable way. And we want to see the results match up to that”.The US adviser also acknowledged the difficulties posed by Hamas embedding themselves among civilians, describing it as an “incredible burden” on the IDF.
However, he stressed that this does not reduce the IDF’s responsibility to protect civilians and minimize loss of life.
“Now that burden does not lessen the IDF’s responsibility to act in a way that distinguishes between terrorist targets and innocent people and to take every precaution to protect civilians,” Sullivan added.
Humanitarian Concerns and Diplomatic Efforts
Sullivan’s remarks also touched on the importance of ensuring adequate humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people. He emphasized their right to basic necessities like food, water, medicine, and sanitation as a matter of human dignity.
In the broader context of his Middle East visit, Sullivan plans to travel to the occupied West Bank to meet with President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. This is part of the US's effort to demonstrate continued support for Israel in its conflict with Hamas while urging the Israeli government to take meaningful steps to reduce civilian casualties in Gaza.