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U.S. and Israel initiate dialogue to discuss attacks against civilians in Gaza Strip

U.S. and Israel initiate dialogue to discuss attacks against civilians in Gaza Strip Photo: Israel reports to the United States on civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip (Getty Images)

The United States has established a negotiating channel with Israel to discuss the details of incidents in the Gaza Strip, where Israeli military personnel killed or injured civilians and struck civilian objects, according to Reuters.

The communication was established after a meeting in early January between U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israel's defense establishment. During the meeting, Blinken expressed concern about "ongoing" reports of Israeli strikes hitting humanitarian objects or causing a significant number of civilian casualties.

The U.S. Secretary of State conveyed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Galant, and Minister Benny Gantz that Washington should be informed of "responses" to reports of strikes, and he is seeking a "reliable channel" through which the United States could regularly address such issues with Israelis.

The channel was established in response to growing pressure on the Biden administration due to significant casualties among the Palestinian civilian population resulting from Israel's campaign against HAMAS. According to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, over 25,000 people have died as a result of the hostilities in the Gaza Strip, with millions becoming displaced.

Another U.S. official stated that through this channel, Washington is discussing with Israelis "each specific incident of concern" related to Israel's military campaign in the Gaza Strip. Israelis conduct investigations and provide feedback to Americans.

The channel operates through diplomats from the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the regional bureau of the State Department dealing with the Middle East, and President Joe Biden's special envoy for humanitarian affairs in the region, David Satterfield.

"The Biden administration has so far refused to criticize Israel directly over the civilian Palestinian death toll, even though senior Biden aides have said "far too many" Palestinians have been killed in the conflict. U.S. officials have also declined to say if Washington was considering investigating whether Israel's battlefield actions have violated the international rules of war," Reuters reports.

War between Israel and the Hamas Palestinian group

On October 7, 2023, Hamas militants initiated a military attack on Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip. In the first few days, radical Islamists killed 1,200 civilians and soldiers, and abducted around 250 individuals.

In late October, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a ground military operation in the Gaza Strip against the militants. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that the goal of the operation was the complete destruction of the operational and governmental capabilities of Hamas, as well as the liberation of hostages.

On January 22, the IDF initiated a new major advance into the western part of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip. The operation is accompanied by significant combat actions.

On January 24, Israel and Hamas reached a preliminary agreement for a one-month ceasefire and a new deal for the release of hostages.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Israel to cease causing additional harm to the civilian population in the region of the conflict.