US President Joe Biden does not support an Israeli military “reoccupation” of the Gaza Strip after the Israel-Hamas war ends, a White House spokesman has said.
Biden believes “a reoccupation by Israeli forces of Gaza is not the right thing to do”, the White House national security spokesperson, John Kirby, told reporters on Tuesday.
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The comments come a day after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested that Israel would take control of security in Gaza after the war.
Israel would take responsibility for security for an “indefinite period” he told ABC News on Monday.
“When we don’t have that security responsibility, what we have is the eruption of Hamas terror on a scale that we couldn’t imagine,” he said.
Kirby said on Tuesday that “there needs to be a healthy set of conversations about what post-conflict Gaza looks like and what governance looks like”.
“What we absolutely agree with our Israeli counterparts on is what it can’t look like, and it can’t look like it looked on October 6,” Kirby added.
Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanou roundly rejected the proposal to eject Hamas.
“What Kirby said about the future of Gaza after Hamas is a fantasy,” he said in a post on Telegram. “Our people are symbiotic with the resistance, and only they will decide their future.”
US President Joe Biden has previously said it would be a “mistake” for Israel to occupy Gaza.
Gaza is already considered an occupied territory because Israel has full control of its borders, airspace and territorial waters despite having formally withdrawn its forces and settlers from the enclave in 2005. In 2007, Israel began enforcing a suffocating blockade on the territory which it had captured along with other Palestinian territories – occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank – in the 1967 War.
Last month, Israel launched an air and ground offensive against Hamas after the armed group carried out a deadly rampage in southern Israel, killing 1,400 people, according to Israeli officials, and taking more than 230 others hostage.
Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has killed at least 10,328 people, including 4,237 children, according to Palestinian health authorities.
Both Israel and Hamas have rebuffed mounting international pressure for a ceasefire. Israel says Hamas should release the hostages first. Hamas says it will not free them or stop fighting while Gaza is under assault.
Israeli ground troops have battled Palestinian fighters inside Gaza for more than a week, cutting the territory in half and encircling Gaza City.
Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari said that the country’s ground forces “are located right now in a ground operation in the depths of Gaza City and putting great pressure on Hamas”.
Israel unleashed another wave of strikes across the Gaza Strip on Tuesday as hundreds more Palestinians fled Gaza City to the south.
Some travelled on donkey carts, most on foot, some pushing elderly relatives in wheelchairs, all visibly exhausted. Many had nothing but the clothes on their backs.
Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have heeded Israeli orders to head to the southern part of Gaza, out of the ground assault’s path. Many others are afraid to do so since Israeli troops control part of the north-south route.
But bombardment of the south has also continued.
In the town of Deir el-Balah, rescue workers brought out at least four dead and several wounded children from the wreckage of a flattened building, witnesses said. “My daughter,” screamed a woman as she ran behind them.
An Israeli air attack destroyed several homes early on Tuesday in Khan Younis. At least five bodies – including three dead children – were pulled from the rubble, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Alongside the bombardment, Israel has imposed a siege on Gaza, severely restricting access to food, water and electricity and cutting off fuel supplies for the more than 2.3 million people trapped in the sealed-off enclave.
A small amount of aid has entered through the Rafah crossing with Egypt, but United Nations chief Antonio Guterres has called that assistance “a trickle” of aid against an “ocean” of need.
On Tuesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said that a humanitarian convoy bringing medical supplies to Al-Shifa Hospital had come under fire in Gaza City, with a driver sustaining light injuries.
The ICRC did not identify the source of the fire.
The Rafah crossing was closed over the weekend after Israeli forces bombed an ambulance heading to the crossing.