Israel’s 11-day bombing campaign in Gaza killed 248 Palestinians, including 66 children, and decimated critical civilian infrastructure in the besieged enclave. Despite the numbers, Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that Israel took “very significant steps” to avoid civilian casualties.
Blinken made the comments in an interview with Israel’s Channel 12 that aired on Wednesday. “I think Israel took very significant steps to do that,” he said when asked if Israel did everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.
In one Israeli air raid, bombs hit a residential building in the al-Shati refugee camp in Gaza, killing 10 people; two women and eight children. Another example of the brutality of Israel’s latest bombing campaign is that the Norwegian Refugee Council said 11 Palestinian children receiving trauma counseling from the charity were killed by Israeli airstrikes while sheltering in their homes.
Blinken said that the killing of children on “both sides” is “deeply painful,” but the Biden administration has refused to condemn the Israeli killing of Palestinian children. On the other hand, Biden officials have had plenty of condemnation for Hamas and other groups for firing rockets into Israeli territory. In Israel, at least 12 people were killed by rockets fired out of Gaza, including two children.
On Wednesday, Blinken wrapped up a two-day tour of the Middle East where he spoke with Israeli, Palestinian, Egyptian, and Jordanian officials about the fragile Gaza ceasefire. “We see the ceasefire, not as an end, but as a beginning, something to build on,” Blinken said from Amman.
During his trip, Blinken announced additional aid for the Palestinians, including $5.5 million for Gaza reconstruction. Shortly before approving this assistance, the Biden administration approved a $735 million arms sale to Israel. The weapons package includes Boeing-made Joint Direct Attack Munitions, which can convert unguided bombs into precision-guided munitions.