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Kirby says Biden administration is ‘increasingly frustrated’ with Israeli military conduct

John Kirby, White House national security communications adviser, said there is a growing frustration in the Biden administration over the way the Israeli military is conducting its wartime operations.

In an interview on ABC News’s “This Week,” co-anchor Martha Raddatz laid out a timeline of statements from President Biden and other Cabinet officials that indicate a gradually changing view on Israel’s actions in Gaza, which has been ruled by Hamas since 2007.

“I’m glad you brought that timeline up because it shows the degree … the growing degree of frustration that we’ve had with the way these operations are being prosecuted and the way that Israelis are acting on the ground in terms of civilian casualties,” Kirby told Raddatz.

“So we have been increasingly frustrated. And again, that was a core message that the president delivered to Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu in their phone call this … past week … that they’ve got to do more, they’ve got to make changes,” he continued.

Scrutiny over Israel’s military campaign was brought to the forefront last week after an Israeli airstrike killed six workers with the World Central Kitchen (WCK) and their Palestinian driver as they were leaving a warehouse in central Gaza.

The workers had just delivered about 100 tons of food aid to the warehouse and were driving in a “deconflicted zone” in armored and labeled cars when the strike hit.

Biden spoke with Netanyahu days later and urged the Israeli leader toward a cease-fire deal that would see the release of the remaining hostages in Gaza and pause fighting in the war-torn enclave.

Biden warned the U.S.’s policy on the war will depend on Israel’s ability to better protect civilians and humanitarian workers following the WCK workers’ deaths. It marked a notable change from Biden and his team since the war broke out last October when Hamas killed nearly 1,200 in a surprise attack.

Kirby said Sunday that Netanyahu “assured” Biden he would make changes to Israel’s military operations.”

“We’ve seen some announcements in those early hours, that’s welcome,” Kirby said. ‘We’ve got to see more. We’ve got to see it over time.”

Shortly after the deadly airstrike, the Israeli military released a preliminary investigation that stated the military mistakenly thought he convoy carrying the workers were armed Hamas fighters. The charity group said it’s movements were previously relayed to the military.

The Israeli military dismissed two officers and reprimanded others involved, it said last week, and Netanyahu vowed the Israeli military will work to ensure a similar incident does not happen again.

Kirby said Sunday the U.S. is also looking at the investigation and has not “come to any conclusions one way or another.”

“This was an investigation that was done sort of akin to like an inspector general,” he said. “So, it was outside the chain of command. But again, we’re working our way through that.”

Renowned chef José Andrés, founder of the food charity World Central Kitchen, spoke with Raddatz last week and told her he has questions over Israel’s claim that the drones could not see the WCK logo at the top of the car in the dark.

When asked if Andrés is right to question the claim, Kirby said he does not know.

“We haven’t also seen — as far as I know — I haven’t seen any, any of the specific video evidence so it’s hard to know what their sight picture was at night,” Kirby said. “Now, certainly operations at night can be more difficult. There’s technology, though, that can allow you to burn through the darkness, to see bedrooms … and drones, and different infrared technology.”

“But I don’t know what they were using in terms of technology to look at this, but clearly, and they’ve admitted that they obviously made a mistake here. What really matters is that they take steps going forward to make sure it can’t happen again, and that they’re transparent about those steps,” he added.

Source: The Hill

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