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Israel needs to protect civilians or risk ‘strategic failure’ in Gaza

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Sec. of Defense Lloyd AustinDefense Secretary Lloyd Austin offered a stark public warning to Israel on Saturday, saying the government there risks “strategic defeat” in Gaza if it doesn’t do more to protect civilians.

The comments came a day after the breakdown in negotiations over hostage and prisoner releases led to the resumption of the Israel-Hamas war. Austin told an audience at the Reagan National Defense Forum that if Israel doesn’t do everything possible to protect civilians, it might help “drive [Palestinians] into the arms of the enemy,” and would “replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat.”

The Biden administration has been warning its Israeli counterparts in private over the human toll of Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, where Hamas has placed rocket launchers and command-and-control centers in civilian neighborhoods.

Austin said the U.S. learned hard lessons in Iraq and Afghanistan over killing and displacing civilians and acknowledged that fighting a war in a dense urban center places significant burdens on a democratic nation trying to follow the laws of war.





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