US warns Israel over humanitarian crisis in Gaza


The US has issued some of its strongest criticism of Israel’s conduct in the war against Hamas, as growing pressure to speed up the delivery of humanitarian supplies into Gaza increases.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken said there was a gap between the Israeli government’s declared intentions to protect civilians and the mounting casualties seen on the ground.

“As we stand here almost a week into this campaign into the south … it remains imperative that Israel put a premium on civilian protection,”

Blinken states this at a press conference after a meeting with British foreign secretary David Cameron in Washington.

“And there does remain a gap between … the intent to protect civilians and the actual results that we’re seeing on the ground,” Blinken said.

More than 17,000 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry, since 7 October when Israel began bombarding the territory in response to a cross-border rampage by Hamas militants.

Israel says it intends to wipe out Hamas but is doing everything possible to get civilians out of harm’s way, including warnings about military operations.

In a phone call with Netanyahu on Thursday, US president Joe Biden “emphasised the critical need to protect civilians and to separate the civilian population from Hamas”, the White House said in a statement.

Despite the warnings, hundreds more Palestinians were killed on Thursday according to the Hamas health ministry, and Israel pressed on with its offensive in and around Gaza’s main cities.

Early Friday, the health ministry reported another 40 dead in strikes near Gaza City, and “dozens” more in Jabalia and Khan Yunis.

Israel’s military has continued its heavy bombardment amid intense fighting in Gaza as its war with Hamas hit the two-month mark and the resulting humanitarian crisis threatened a breakdown of public order.

About 1.87 million people in Gaza, more than 80% of the population of 2.3 million, have fled their homes in the past two months, according to the UN.

Many families have been displaced multiple times, and are living in tents and overcrowded makeshift shelters.

The mass civilian casualties in the conflict have sparked global concern, heightened by dire shortages caused by an Israeli siege that has seen only limited access for food, water, fuel and medicines in Gaza.

On Thursday, Israel agreed at the request of the United States to open the Kerem Shalom border crossing in southern Gaza for the screening and inspection of trucks and their cargo, for the first time since the outbreak of the war.

If that were to happen, UN aid chief Martin Griffith said it would represent a major boost for humanitarian operations.

“It would be the first miracle we’ve seen for some weeks, but would also be a huge boost to the logistical process and logistical base of a humanitarian operation,” he said.

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