How to Implement a ‘Surgical’ Approach in Gaza: Insights from US Defense Secretary

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin emphasized Israel’s role in Gaza, reiterating the U.S.’s support for its war against Hamas, urging the return of hostages, defending civilians, and increasing humanitarian aid. He also called for a post-war, two-state solution between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors, stressing that instability and insecurity only play in the hands of Hamas. Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel will gradually transition to the next phase of its operations in Gaza, allowing the local population to return to the north of the coastal strip. The U.N. Security Council could vote on a resolution calling for a humanitarian cease-fire in the Gaza Strip.

The draft Security Council resolution calls for an urgent cessation of hostilities in the occupied Gaza Strip to allow safe humanitarian access. Human Rights Watch accuses the Israeli government of using starvation as a method of warfare, stating that high-ranking Israeli officials aim to deprive civilians of food, water, and fuel. Other Israeli officials have stated that humanitarian aid to Gaza would be conditioned on the release of hostages unlawfully held by Hamas or Hamas’ destruction. Israel has not responded to the report. Despite aid reaching Gaza, the number of trucks entering the country is far below the 500 per day that were carrying aid to Gaza before the war.

A Security Council resolution calling for a humanitarian cease-fire failed due to the US’s veto, and the U.N. General Assembly supported a similar resolution shortly after, but its resolutions are non-binding. French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna called for an immediate truce, while British Foreign Minister David Cameron and German counterpart Annalena Baerbock called for a “sustainable cease-fire” in Gaza.

Israel has pledged to destroy Hamas, the militant group that governs Gaza, after it sent fighters into Israel on October 7, killing around 1,200 people, mostly civilians. Hamas also took 240 people hostage, with over 100 remaining in Gaza. The Israeli offensive has killed over 19,400 people in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run health ministry. The conflict has forced an estimated 85% of Gaza’s population from their homes, with many seeking safe places at UN shelters in southern Gaza. UNRWA reported 135 staff members killed and 115 installations damaged since the conflict began in early October.

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