The White House has issued a warning to Israel against reoccupying Gaza, following comments made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu suggested that Israel should have the overall security responsibility in Gaza for an indefinite period after the war is over. However, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby stated that a reoccupation of Gaza by Israeli forces would not be good for Israel or its people. Kirby also mentioned that Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been discussing what post-conflict Gaza would look like and emphasized that it cannot be governed by Hamas.
Netanyahu’s statement about Israel needing to oversee the security of Gaza to prevent future attacks prompted the White House’s caution. This viewpoint differs from that of the US, including President Joe Biden’s statements about the future of Gaza. In a previous interview, Biden stated that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza. Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Herzog, also clarified that Israel does not intend to occupy Gaza after the conflict ends.
Despite Blinken’s efforts to negotiate a humanitarian pause for civilians to leave Gaza and for aid to enter, Netanyahu rejected the proposal. Israeli forces continued to strike civilian sites, claiming that they were being used by Hamas. However, Mark Regev, a senior adviser to Netanyahu, clarified that Israel’s post-war plan does not involve an ongoing occupation of Gaza. He emphasized the need to prevent a resurgence of terrorism and Hamas, while also establishing new frameworks for Gazans to rule themselves with international support for reconstruction.
The conflict between Israel and Gaza has resulted in a high number of casualties, with more than 10,000 people killed and over 25,000 injured in just under a month, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. These figures could not be independently verified, but Brig. Gen. Patrick S. Ryder of the Pentagon acknowledged that the numbers are in the thousands. President Biden spoke with Netanyahu, discussing the importance of accelerating and increasing humanitarian assistance to Gaza, as well as the need for pauses in the fighting.
The White House expressed its condolences for the innocent Palestinians who have been killed or injured in the conflict and reiterated its commitment to finding a resolution.