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The United States has been relentless in its demands on the Israeli government about how Israel should be conducting its war. Expectations for the supply of humanitarian aid, criteria for the release of hostages, avoiding the killing of civilians, the evacuation of civilians from the north to the south—there seems to be no end to the Biden Administration’s advice to the Israelis on how they should fight this war. Whether the demands are practical to the war effort seems to be irrelevant. The U.S. knows that the rest of the world is watching the discussions with Israel with a guarded eye, since Israel has been under international scrutiny since its inception.
Initially, Israel listened to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, since the U.S. has provided armaments which Israel requires. When the U.S. demanded a pause in the fighting to negotiate the release of hostages, Israel was skeptical about whether those plans would be successful; it also knew that a pause would give Hamas the chance to re-arm and re-supply itself. But the families of the hostages were determined to have their family members released, and Netanyahu relented. At the start, hostages were released; in spite of Israel’s agreeing to an extension of the pause, Hamas stopped cooperating. It refused to provide a list of hostages to be released on the first extension day, December 1, and said that they were not holding anymore women or children. At that point, only 110 of the approximately 240 hostages had been released. Reports say that at least 18 of the remaining hostages are dead, although there is no way to be certain.
Once Hamas reneged on the agreement, Benjamin Netanyahu fully resumed the war. He had made an effort to follow U.S. demands, but he also knew that negotiating with terrorists would be risky. Once hostages were released, Israel learned that the they had been abused, starved, kept in dark tunnels, and terrorized. Rather than pursuing further pauses in the war, Netanyahu realized that they must fully engage Hamas without any conditions, in order to be victorious.
Nevertheless, Antony Blinken continues to try to control the Israelis’ actions. He insists that they somehow minimize civilian casualties in the middle of a war zone. He refers to civilians as “innocent Palestinians,” even though surveys show that the Palestinians overwhelmingly support Hamas. But Netanyahu has agreed to provide as much protection as the fighting allows.
Senior Netanyahu adviser Mark Regev explained to CNN that maps had been shown to Blinken indicating humanitarian safe zones, and that aid would continue to flow into Gaza. He stated, “As we pursue Hamas, and we will pursue Hamas relentlessly,” they will try to protect the civilian population.
So, the Biden administration and the Israeli governments seem to have reached an understanding: the U.S. will continue to make more demands and supply Israel with arms, and Israeli will continue to conduct its war as it sees fit.
That seems to satisfy all parties concerned. For now.