2:45 PM ET, November 10, 2023
Top U.S. diplomat makes remarkable shift in language against Israel as pressure mounts
From CNN’s Paul LeBlanc
When US Secretary of State Antony Blinken lamented the civilian death toll in Gaza on Friday, it marked a subtle but notable shift in US language towards the Israeli government.
The Biden administration has for weeks supported Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s military offensive following Hamas’s brutal Oct. 7 attack, but a rising death toll in the besieged enclave, huge pro-Palestinian protests around the globe and growing discomfort in the White House have a significant strain on the US position.
“Too many Palestinians have been killed. Too many have suffered in recent weeks, said the top US diplomat in New Delhi. “We want to do everything we can to prevent harm to them and to maximize the help that comes to them.”
“To that end, we will continue to discuss with Israel the concrete steps to be taken to advance these goals,” Blinken added.
Administration officials claim they have been successful in some areas as they work to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The White House said on Thursday that Israel had agreed to go ahead with daily four-hour pauses in military operations in areas of northern Gaza.
The number of Palestinians killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7 has exceeded 11,000, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, citing sources in the Hamas-controlled area.
The fierce military operation shows no signs of letting up. On Friday, Israeli tanks surrounded a hospital in Gaza, its director told CNN, as the territory’s largest health facility came under a reported “bombardment.”
The IDF has said that Hamas is embedding itself in civilian infrastructure and that it will attack Hamas “where necessary.” CNN cannot confirm these claims.
Netanyahu insisted on Thursday that there would be “no ceasefire” without the release of hostages held by Hamas.
Meanwhile, major world cities – including London, Istanbul, New York, Baghdad and Rome – have seen their centers filled with pro-Palestinian protesters calling for a ceasefire, with more protests planned this weekend.
Concerns about the widening of the conflict and the potential for further diplomatic fallout abroad also remain top of mind in the United States. The Biden administration has received stark warnings from US diplomats in the Arab world that its strong support for Israel’s military campaign is “losing us Arab publics for a generation,” according to a diplomatic cable obtained by CNN.