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Middle East

Israel-Gaza conflict: US criticises Israelis over high numbers of civilian casualties

As the ground offensive gathers momentum, American patience may quickly fray further

The high numbers of civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip has led the United States to issue an unusually crisp admonition to Israel to “do more” to avoid deaths and injuries among the Palestinian population, even as its ground invasion of the Hamas-controlled territory gathers pace.

“We believe that certainly there’s more that can be done [to reduce civilian casualties]”, said Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the US State Department, in response to questions about the deaths of four Palestinian boys on a beach in Gaza City last week.

The US is by far Israel’s most important military and diplomatic ally and it is highly unusual for it to issue so public a rebuke for actions Israel considers vital to its defence.

Ms Psaki was speaking to journalists at the State Department a few hours before the start of the ground invasion of Gaza on Thursday night.


However, with reports coming in of widening numbers of casualties associated with the ground offensive – including the deaths of a baby, two children and a 70-year-old woman – American patience with Israel may quickly fray further.

It is already clear that Israel’s repeated claims that it is doing all it can to mitigate civilian suffering are not being taken at face value in Washington.