White House tells Israel to scale BACK Gaza offensive in ‘weeks’ – but Netanyahu warns he won’t stop until Hamas is ‘eliminated’
- Jake Sullivan met Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Thursday
- He told Netanyahu that he must move to a low-intensity campaign ‘in weeks’
- Aid agencies are warning of a humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza
The U.S. reportedly demanded Thursday that Israel end its high-intensity assault on Hamas in Gaza with weeks rather than months.
The message was delivered by President Joe Biden’s national security adviser in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
And it was backed up by Biden, who later called on Israel to be more careful.
‘National Security Adviser Sullivan made clear in all meetings that the high-intensity kinetic campaign needed to transition to the next lower intensity phase in a matter of weeks not months,’ a senior U.S. official said.
‘[This is not] a deadline and we understand the campaign must and will continue, but in a lower intensity manner.’
A senior Biden administration official reportedly demanded Thursday that Israel end its high intensity assault on Hamas in Gaza with weeks rather than months
Joe Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan (left) met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (right) in Tel Aviv on Thursday
He pressed Netanyahu and members of his war cabinet on the timetable for what a low-intensity campaign would look like, according to Axios.
Netanyahu said the war would continue until Hamas was eliminated.
‘I told our American friends – our heroic fighters have not fallen in vain,’ he said, according to a statement from his office.
‘From the deep pain of their falling, we are more determined than ever to continue to fight until Hamas is eliminated – until absolute victory.’
Biden himself was asked where he stood on the issue after he delivered a speech at the National Institutes of Health.
‘I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives,’ he said. ‘Not stop going after Hamas, but to be more careful.’
Israel launched its attack on Oct. 7 in response to a devastating Hamas terrorist assault that killed 1,200 people.
Since then, aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian catastrophe.
Hamas-controlled health agencies say 18,000 people have died in the siege and bombardment.
Israel kept up its heavy bombardment Thursday, pounding targets the length and breadth of Gaza.
At the White House, spokesman John Kirby was asked about Sullivan’s meeting with Netanyahu.
Vice President Kamala Harris has reportedly urged colleagues, including President Joe Biden, to be more publicly sympathetic to Palestinians in Gaza amid the Israeli bombardment
The siege and bombardment of Gaza have killed more than 18,000 people, according to Hamas-controlled Palestinian health authorities
A reservist jumps off an armored personnel carrier at a staging point near the Gaza border
‘He did talk about possible transitioning from what we would call high-intensity operations, which is what we’re seeing them do now, to lower intensity operations sometime in the near future, but I don’t want to put a timestamp on it,’ he said.
‘I think you can understand that the last thing we’d want to do is telegraph to Hamas what they’re likely to face in coming weeks and months.’
In Israel, cabinet minister Benny Gantz told reporters that the U.S. was not trying to dictate policy.
‘I think the Americans are conducting with us a strategic and professional discourse that is appropriate and measured. They are not trying to dictate anything to us,’ he said.
Even so, the Biden administration’s stance has hardened in recent weeks.
Biden has made much of his long friendship with Netanyahu, and aides have said he can have more influence over Israel by adopting a publicly supportive position.
However, his key lieutenants delivered warnings earlier this month.
Sullivan meets with Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and aides in Tel Aviv
Biden’s vice president used a speech in Dubai to issue the strongest demand yet that Israel abide by international humanitarian law.
‘Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed,’ Kamala Harris said. ‘Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating.’
On the same day, Biden’s defense secretary warned that Israel’s campaign could backfire by radicalizing a new generation of Hamas recruits.
‘In this kind of a fight, the center of gravity is the civilian population,’ said Lloyd Austin. ‘And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat.’
And Biden himself delivered a public warning to his old friend on Tuesday that
‘They’re starting to lose that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place,’ he told a gathering of donors.’
On Thursday, it also emerged that Harris has been urging Biden to take a tougher stance on Israel and speak up more for the civilians of Gaza.
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