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Biden asks Israel to scale down bombing of civilians in Gaza as global backlash against ethnic cleansing intensifies
By Belle Carter // Dec 22, 2023

President Joe Biden urged Israel last week to protect civilians while scaling down its ground and air offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip moving forward.

According to U.S. officials, who asked for anonymity to discuss the president's thinking, Biden wants Israel to switch to more precise tactics in about three weeks. They said that the U.S. will still rally behind Israel but expects the country's strategy to pivot from an all-out assault toward more targeted, tactical operations aimed at eliminating Hamas' leaders and hideouts, as well as recovering hostages. "I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives, not stop going after Hamas, but be more careful," Biden said on Thursday after a speech on prescription drug costs at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

The statement came after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told visiting White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan that it would take several months to defeat the Palestinian militant group in the enclave. He said destroying Hamas was essential to his country's security. He also described the Iran-backed group as well entrenched. "They built infrastructure under the ground and above the ground, and it is not easy to destroy them," Gallant said. Israeli leaders also presented Sullivan with their own timeline for waging a more targeted offensive but it was slower than the one favored by Biden and his advisers. The U.S. officials emphasized that Sullivan did not direct or order Israeli leaders to change tactics.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has, in the past, acquiesced to advice from the Biden administration to allow humanitarian supplies into Gaza and to take steps to reduce civilian casualties after initially rejecting them outright. The Israeli prime minister's office released a statement saying only that Netanyahu "has made it clear that Israel will continue the war until we complete all of its goals."

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Meanwhile, Biden reportedly also said last week that Israel was losing international support because of the "indiscriminate bombing" of Gaza, a much harsher assessment than his earlier public statements urging greater care to protect civilians as his administration finds itself under pressure to rein in the assault. The challenge has been preserving the president's determination to let Israel eliminate Hamas while at the same time easing the chorus of critics outraged by the humanitarian crisis, the New York Times reported. (Related: Biden: Israel LOSING SUPPORT across the globe due to indiscriminate bombing of Gaza.)

"The international community, and the United States in particular, must take swift action to ensure that this threat is removed," the office of Benny Gantz, a member of the Israeli war cabinet and a former military chief of staff, said in a statement. Israel's determination to carry on with its siege of Gaza comes as Philippe Lazzarini, the director of the United Nations agency that assists Palestinians, described conditions in the Palestinian territory as a "living hell."

10 Israeli soldiers killed in a day as civil order breaks down in  Gaza

Israel forces reported last week that the war has continued to intensify as 10 of their soldiers had been killed in a single day.

More than 18,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry. More than 1,200 people were killed in Israel during Hamas' attacks, according to the Israeli prime minister's office. After over two months of air and artillery strikes, hundreds of thousands of Gazans were forced into makeshift encampments without enough food or water and in unhygienic living conditions, Lazzarini said in a speech Wednesday hours after visiting southern Gaza. He said that now, Gazans have become "desperate, hungry people" and said the sight of a truck carrying humanitarian assistance now provokes chaos, with people stopping the convoys and eating what they can get from the trucks on the streets.

"Civil order is breaking down," he said, adding that they are still distributing whatever food they can bring in, "but this is often as little as a bottle of water and a can of tuna per day, per family, often numbering six or seven people."

Netanyahu’s government and the Biden administration have mostly sought to paper over their divides since the attack started. The United States and Israel have also differed over who should control Gaza after the war. American officials have said the Palestinian Authority, which has international support, should control the enclave, while Netanyahu has appeared to rule that out for now.

Visit IsraelCollapse.com for more stories about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

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