President Joe Biden and other U.S. officials are urging Israel to exercise caution and minimize civilian casualties as they plan potential military operations in southern Gaza. The move comes in response to international criticism of Israel’s recent attacks in the northern part of the region, which resulted in a significant number of civilian deaths.
According to U.S. officials, Israel has been asked to consider the safety of Palestinian civilians and to identify specific areas where they can seek refuge during any potential offensive in southern Gaza. It is believed that this approach could help prevent a repeat of the high civilian death toll seen in the north. Two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants have already fled to the south to avoid the ongoing conflict in the northern region.
The U.S. acknowledges Israel’s need to target Hamas militants in southern Gaza but insists that a more cautious and precise approach is necessary, given the densely populated nature of the area.
U.S. officials have advised Israel to carefully consider the presence of civilians in their operational planning and to draw on lessons learned from previous operations in the north to enhance protections for innocent civilians. This includes narrowing the zone of combat and clearly defining safe areas for civilians.
During the planning phase for the offensive in the north, U.S. officials advised Israel to use a smaller force than initially planned and to be careful with tactics, movements, unit size, and rules of engagement. Similar recommendations are being made as Israel plans potential operations in the south.
The U.S. is urging Israel to accurately identify the location of civilians, focus on high-value precision targets, and avoid indiscriminate strikes in any southern Gaza offensive.
(Reporting By Steve Holland; Editing by Heather Timmons and Sonali Paul)