US says it expects Israel to avoid attacking 'no-strike' zones in Gaza

Israel has ordered civilians to evacuate parts of southern Gaza, leaving few places for people to seek refuge

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan speaks during a White House press briefing. EPA
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The White House on Monday said that it expects Israel to avoid attacking areas in southern Gaza that it identified as “no-strike” zones to allow Palestinian civilians to find safety during Israeli military operations.

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said that the administration of President Joe Biden is having daily conversations with Israeli leaders about protecting civilians in Gaza, and would continue to push for the entry of more humanitarian aid into the besieged enclave.

“They [Israel] have also indicated that there are areas where there will be no-strike zones,” Mr Sullivan told journalists.

“And in those zones, we do expect Israel to follow through on it.

“There are other areas in the south that Hamas continues to occupy with military infrastructure where targeted, precise strikes are part of Israel's ongoing military operations.”

The comments come as Israel's military called for evacuations in southern Gaza – an area that Palestinian civilians were ordered to flee to as Israel mounted attacks by air, land and sea.

Almost 16,500 Palestinians, the majority of the civilians, have been killed and most of the territory's 2.3 million residents have been displaced. Israeli bombardments have reduced large parts of the coastal enclave to rubble.

On Friday, a week-long temporary truce expired, bringing with it renewed Israeli bombardments. Scores of people have been killed and sporadic rocket fire into Israel has sent people into shelters.

During the truce, which was negotiated by the US, Qatar and Egypt, dozens of hostages held by Hamas were released in exchange for Palestinian detainees held in Israeli prisons. In addition, humanitarian aid flowed more easily into Gaza.

When Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, they killed about 1,200 people and took about 240 hostage.

Mr Sullivan blamed Hamas for the collapse of talks that should have led to more hostages being released and the truce extended.

“Hamas is refusing to release civilian woman who should have been part of the agreement,” he said.

“And it is that refusal by Hamas that has caused the end of the hostage agreement and therefore the end of the pause in hostilities.”

He said there are still “intensive discussions” taking place between the US, Israel, Qatar and Egypt on finding ways to secure another truce that would lead to the release of additional hostages.

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Updated: December 04, 2023, 9:49 PM