Israel’s military campaign in Gaza faces growing criticism from the US as civilian casualties mount, culminating in the accidental killing of 3 Israeli civilians held hostage by militants. With no clear end in sight, the war risks further straining US-Israel relations.
Escalating Ground Offensive Leads to Civilian Deaths
On December 15th, the Israeli military admitted to accidentally killing 3 Israeli hostages during an exchange of fire in Gaza the night prior. The 3 civilians were being held by the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad when they were caught in an Israeli strike targeting Islamic Jihad fighters.
This comes amidst a major ground offensive launched by Israel over a week ago to root out militant tunnels and infrastructure. The intensity of the fighting has led to growing civilian casualties, with Gaza officials reporting over 120 Palestinians killed.
|Israel launches Operation Breaking Dawn ground offensive in Gaza
|Israel accidentally kills 3 Israeli civilian hostages in Gaza airstrike
|Over 120 Palestinian civilians reported dead since start of ground offensive
The civilian deaths have drawn public criticism from the US, Israel’s closest ally, as the war enters its second month with no clear end in sight.
US Calls for De-escalation
The high civilian death toll led US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to publicly call for Israel to lower the intensity of its military campaign last week. Sullivan urged Israel to wrap up intensive ground operations in Gaza within weeks.
Additionally, the US State Department has dispatched an envoy to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and discuss giving the Palestinian Authority an increased security role in Gaza after the war ends. This signals US interest in facilitating a mediated solution between Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Criticism from the US, Israel’s long-time ally and military sponsor, points to growing divides between the Biden administration and the new Netanyahu-led Israeli government. Prime Minister Netanyahu has remained defiant in publicly defending the intensity of the Gaza campaign, tweeting that Israel will continue its operations at full force.
|Jake Sullivan calls for Israel to wrap up Gaza ground offensive “in a matter of weeks”
|Netanyahu says Israel will continue operation at “full force”
|US proposes security role for Palestinian Authority in postwar Gaza
With neither side announcing plans to de-escalate, the Gaza war risks dragging on and further straining the US-Israel relationship.
No Clear End as War Enters Second Month
Though Sullivan set a timeframe of weeks for ending major operations, military officials predict months of additional fighting before the conflict winds down.
Israel is determined to substantially degrade militant capabilities in Gaza before withdrawing ground troops. Meanwhile, Palestinian militants possess enough rockets and urban warfare capacity to sustain an insurgency for months.
As the war continues, Biden may come under increasing pressure to penalize Israel over civilian deaths. Options include delaying arms shipments and reducing cooperation with the Israeli military.
However, with staunchly pro-Israel Republicans now controlling Congress, Biden has limited room to sanction Israel if civilian casualties continue mounting.
|US Support for Israel
|$3.8 billion annually
|Delay/reduce arms shipments
|Veto anti-Israel UN resolutions
|Allow/abstain from resolutions
|Joint training/intelligence sharing
|Reduce joint programs
For now, the US continues trying to privately pressure Netanyahu while avoiding direct punishment, instead emphasizing hopes for a mediated solution. With no clear path to de-escalation, the Gaza war seems poised to drive additional wedges between the US and Israel.
To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.