US: Israel trying to minimize civilian casualties


Israel is taking steps to reduce the number of Palestinian civilian casualties from the Israel-Hamas war, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told ABC’s This Week on Sunday, two days after the IDF resumed its military campaign to oust Hamas from the enclave.

“We believe they [Israel] have been receptive to our messages in terms of trying to minimize civilian casualties,” he said.

“In the last 24-to-48 hours, they [the IDF], published an online map of places where people could go to avoid combat… to find safety from combat. There is not a whole lot of modern militaries that would do that,” Kirby said as he referred to Israeli actions in the South.

“They are making an effort,” he added. US officials, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken who visited Israel last week have pushed Israel to reduce the casualty count.

A growing death toll in Gaza creates unease among Israel’s allies

Hamas has asserted that over 15,000 Palestinians have been killed from violence related to the Israel-Hamas war, a number which Israel’s allies have found troubling, and opponents of the Gaza have harshly criticized, with some accusing Israel of genocide.

John Kirby, National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, answers questions during the daily press briefing at the White House in Washington, US, February 17, 2023. (credit: REUTERS/EVELYN HOCKSTEIN)

The US has been particularly concerned about IDF action in the South, where many Palestinians have fled from the North for safety.

“We have said that we do not want to see them move into the South until they have accounted for the civilian population,” Kirby said.


The US has supported Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, which was sparked by the terrorist groups’ killing of over 1,200 people and its seizure of some 240 hostages on October 7.

The military’ focus now, particularly with regard to intelligence, Kirby said, as he alluded to Israel’s targeted assassinations, should be on IDF efforts against Hamas’s leaders.

“The focus has got to be on making sure that Israel has what it needs to go after Hamas’s leadership. They are taking out its leadership one by one, but they are going after them and we want to see that progress continued,” he stressed.

Kirby spoke about Qatar and Egyptian mediated talks to put the Gaza war back on hold in exchange for more hostages releases had broken down. Last week, during a lull in the war, 110 hostages were freed, according to number provided by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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