U.S. Military’s Plea to Israel: Do More to Protect Gazans in War Zone

For months, the Biden administration has pleaded with Israel to do more to protect Palestinian civilians, who have borne the brunt of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s campaign in Gaza to destroy Hamas.

But now, on the eve of Israel’s long-threatened major assault on the city of Rafah, the gulf between what the United States is recommending and what Israel appears intent on doing could not be wider.

The Biden administration’s list of suggestions is lengthy. Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said this week that the United States wanted Israel to carry out “more precise” operations, and that the 2,000-pound bombs it has been using in densely populated Gaza “could create a lot of collateral damage.”

American officials also want Israel to lean more toward sending special operations troops in to conduct targeted raids of Hamas leaders and fighters, instead of relying on aerial bombing campaigns and tanks.

But the advice all comes down to this: The United States wants Israel to move Palestinian civilians out of the way, and to do more to help humanitarian aid get in, before launching any incursion into Rafah. In fact, if it were up to the Biden administration, Israel would not go into Rafah at all.

“We certainly would like to see no major combat take place in Rafah,” Mr. Austin said at a Senate subcommittee hearing on Wednesday. He then linked Israel’s actions in Rafah to future American weapons aid.

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