US Secretary of State acknowledges more Palestinian civilians than Hamas fighters killed in Israel attacks

Some of the Israeli military’s actions have not followed international humanitarian law, according to the US Secretary of State

More Palestinian civilians have died from Israel’s airstrikes and ground offensive in Gaza than Hamas fighters, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged.

During his appearance on the CBS TV news program Face the Nation on Sunday, Blinken was asked if Washington agreed with the recent claim by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the attacks on Gaza have so far resulted in the death of 14,000 “terrorists” and 16,000 civilians.

“Yes, we do,” the Secretary of State replied. “Israel has processes, procedures, rules and regulations intended to minimize civilian harm,” but they “have not been consistently and effectively applied. There’s a gap between the stated intent and some of the results we’ve seen,” he explained.

Blinken stressed that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) are fighting “an enemy that hides in civilian infrastructure, hides behind civilians,” which makes it problematic to determine what actually happened in each of the individual incidents.

“Given the totality of what we’ve seen in terms of civilian suffering, in terms of children, women, men… who’ve been killed or been injured, it’s reasonable to assess that in a number of instances, Israel has not acted in a manner that’s consistent with international humanitarian law,” he said.

However, the Secretary of State added that it was only an assessment, and that more investigating was needed for the administration of US President Joe Biden to come up with definitive conclusions.

Last week, the State Department released a report that criticized Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza, but didn’t single out any specific violations that would necessitate a ban on US military aid to its ally.

At least, 35,034 people have been killed and 78,755 others wounded in the IDF’s attacks on Gaza, according to the latest data from the Palestinian enclave’s health ministry, which doesn’t differentiate between civilians and militants in its reports. Israel launched its military operation in Gaza in response to a October 7 cross-border incursion by Hamas, in which at least 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken hostage.

The UN’s Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said last week that there were 14,500 children and 9,500 women among those who were killed in Gaza. The Jerusalem Post reported on Saturday that the UN has since then halved its estimated number of fatalities among minors and females.