White House Says No Deadline for Israel to End Gaza Onslaught

Gaza's Health Ministry says over 17,000 Palestinians have been killed

US Deputy National Security Advisor Jon Finer said Thursday that the Biden administration has not set a deadline on Israel’s war in Gaza and reiterated US opposition to a ceasefire.

“We have not given a firm deadline to Israel, not really our role. This is their conflict. That said, we do have influence, even if we don’t have ultimate control over what happens on the ground in Gaza,” Finer told the Aspen Security Forum.

Financial Times reported last week that the Israeli onslaught is expected to last over a year. US officials told CNN that they expect the current phase of the war, which involves constant airstrikes and a ground operation, would continue into 2024, and then Israel would narrow down its targeting to specific Hamas members, possibly by January.

Finer said the US supports Israel’s goal of ensuring that “Hamas can no longer govern,” although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stated his objective is the elimination of Hamas altogether. Finer said the US is “not in place yet of asking Israel to stop or for a ceasefire.”

There’s no indication that Israel is successfully taking out Hamas fighters, as its bombardment has incurred a massive civilian death toll. Gaza’s Health Ministry said Thursday that 17,177 Palestinians have been killed since Israel unleashed its campaign on October 7, and about 70% of the dead are women and children.

The Financial Times report cited a source who said Israel was not “near halfway to achieving our objectives.” The report also quoted an Israeli military source who estimated 5,000 Hamas members had been killed so far, while other reports put the toll at 1,000-2,000. But it’s unclear if the Israeli estimates are accurate.

The White House is insisting that Israel does not intentionally target civilians, but a report from +972 Magazine, citing Israeli intelligence sources, revealed the Israeli military is purposefully destroying civilian areas in an effort to put “civil pressure” on Hamas. One source told the magazine: “Nothing happens by accident. When a 3-year-old girl is killed in a home in Gaza, it’s because someone in the army decided it wasn’t a big deal for her to be killed — that it was a price worth paying in order to hit [another] target. We are not Hamas. These are not random rockets. Everything is intentional. We know exactly how much collateral damage there is in every home.”

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of Antiwar.com, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.