Washington urges “careful consideration” before launching any ground operation in the Palestinian enclave
US officials have expressed concerns that Israel has no workable plan for sending ground forces into Gaza, and are questioning whether the IDF can achieve its goal of annihilating the Hamas militant group without the right preparations, according to the New York Times.
In recent discussions with his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant, US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has emphasized the need for “careful consideration” before launching a ground campaign in the densely populated territory, the New York Times reported on Monday.
“The [US] administration is also concerned… that the Israel Defense Forces do not yet have a clear military pathway to achieve Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s goal of eradicating Hamas,” the outlet said, adding that “In conversations with Israeli officials since the Hamas attacks on Oct. 7, American officials said they have not yet seen an achievable plan of action.”
Although the White House has maintained that American officials are not making decisions on Israel’s behalf, the Pentagon has reportedly dispatched three-star Marine Lt. Gen. James Glynn to advise the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on urban operations. The officer previously led US special operators tasked with fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS), and before that served in Fallujah, Iraq during some of the most vicious house-to-house fighting following the 2003 US invasion.
Glynn will reportedly advise Israeli forces on “how to mitigate civilian casualties in urban warfare,” according to the Associated Press, which cited an unnamed US official. However, National Security Council Coordinator John Kirby told reporters on Monday that American advisers will not serve in a combat role, and would merely consult with Israeli commanders. Another unnamed official told the New York Times, meanwhile, that Glynn would not remain on the ground in Israel should a ground invasion begin.
During a call with Gallant on Monday, Defense Secretary Austin reportedly emphasized “the importance of civilian protection,” and “encouraged” the Israeli military to “conduct their operations in accordance with the law of war.”
The IDF has already come under fire from some human rights groups for indiscriminate strikes on civilian structures in Gaza, which have left at least 5,000 Palestinians dead and thousands more injured, according to local officials. Some 1,400 in Israel have been killed since the latest round of hostilities erupted on October 7, when Hamas launched one of its largest terrorist attacks to date.
Hundreds of thousands of residents in Gaza have been displaced amid the violence, with many in dire need of aid, also prompting warnings of a looming humanitarian disaster from the United Nations and other organizations.