US expresses growing concerns over civilian casualties in Gaza

NEW DELHI — In a press briefing during his visit to India on Friday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed deep concern over the escalating civilian death toll in Gaza amid Israel’s ongoing bombardment and ground invasion. The Biden Administration appears to be intensifying efforts to address the humanitarian crisis in the region, emphasizing the need to protect civilians and ensure the delivery of essential humanitarian aid.

Secretary Blinken, who recently concluded a diplomatic tour through Middle Eastern and Asian nations, conveyed that “far too many Palestinians have been killed” and stressed the urgency of taking additional measures to safeguard civilian lives.

The remarks by Secretary Blinken signal a heightened US focus on pressuring Israel to minimize harm to civilians in its campaign against Hamas. The mounting civilian toll in Gaza has prompted international outrage, with the United Nations and numerous countries calling for immediate action to address the humanitarian crisis.

President Biden had previously questioned casualty figures provided by the Gazan health ministry, which reported over 10,000 deaths. However, US officials now acknowledge that thousands of civilians have lost their lives since Israel initiated its retaliatory campaign following a Hamas attack on 7 October.

The Biden administration has been urging Israel to implement humanitarian pauses, allowing Palestinian civilians to evacuate from the north to the relatively safer southern areas of Gaza. After persistent pressure, Israel agreed to daily four-hour pauses in some northern Gaza areas, facilitating the delivery of humanitarian supplies and potentially aiding the release of hostages held by Hamas.

The United Nations aid office emphasized the critical situation in Gaza, where aid delivery has become increasingly challenging due to the ongoing conflict. With hundreds of thousands of Palestinians affected and a scarcity of essential supplies such as food, clean water, and medicine, urgent international action is needed to address the unfolding humanitarian catastrophe in the region.