White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Tuesday that Israel will continue to hurt “innocent civilians” in its onslaught on Gaza.
“This is war. It is combat. It is bloody, ugly and it’s going to be messy and innocent civilians are going to be hurt going forward,” Kirby said when asked if the US thought Israel’s bombardment was a disproportionate response to the Hamas attack on southern Israel.
“I wish I could tell you something different and wish that there wasn’t going to happen, but it is going to happen. And that doesn’t make it right, doesn’t make it dismissible,” Kirby added.
He also reiterated the US’s opposition to a ceasefire in Gaza, claiming it would only benefit Hamas. Both Kirby and Secretary of State Antony Blinken said they were open to the idea of a “humanitarian pause” to allow more aid to enter Gaza.
Kirby insisted the US would continue to urge Israel to minimize civilian casualties, but Israel has only increased its bombardment of Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that airstrikes launched the day before were the hardest yet.
While Kirby framed civilian casualties as a fact of modern war, Israel’s bombardment has been particularly brutal, as attacks have been leveling entire neighborhoods. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, after 18 days of bombing, at least 5,791 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 2,360 children.
Kirby cast doubt on the casualty numbers coming out of Gaza since the enclave is ruled by Hamas. But the casualty rate is believable as the Israeli side has boasted about the scope of its bombardment. In just the first six days of its onslaught, Israeli forces dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on earth. In comparison, the US dropped 7,423 bombs on Afghanistan in 2019, the most since the US started keeping a tally in 2006.