The Obama administration is holding Israel to a higher standard than they hold themselves when it comes to retaliation limits.
The United States has, and continues to, support the Israeli military. But the White House is simultaneously condemning Israeli strikes on Hamas militants, stating that the Israeli Defense Forces must “live up to their own standards” when defending Israelis and combating Palestinians.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest’s statement came in response to a State Department statement made on Sunday, calling Israel’s action’s “disgraceful.” This was the United State’s hardest stance on Israel thus far.
“The United States is appalled by today’s disgraceful shelling outside an UNRWA school in Rafah sheltering some 3,000 displaced persons, in which ten more Palestinian civilians were tragically killed,” State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said in a statement. “We once again stress that Israel do more to meet its own standards and avoid civilian casualties.”
The strike targeted three Palestinian terrorists on board a motorcycle in the vicinity of the school. Over ten Palestinians died in the attack, and many more were injured. An estimated 1,750 people — including 11 U.N. staff members — have died as a result of the conflict. Most recently, Palestinians carried out two attacks targeting Israelis in Jerusalem.
The school was sheltering nearly 3,000 displaced Palestinians. During the course of the conflict, Hamas has been using U.N. schools and facilities as storage areas for weapons.
“We have over the course of time expressed our concern about the necessity of the Israeli military to live up to their own standards when it comes to protecting the lives of innocent civilians, even Palestinian civilians who are caught in the middle of this conflict,” Earnest said of the recent shelling of U.N. facilities in Gaza. “What that statement from the state department made clear is that the suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.”
Earnest went on to call Hamas’ use of innocent civilians as human shields to protect their weaponry as “deplorable.”
“What we are pushing for is a ceasefire because we believe it is not in the interest for parties on either side of this conflict for this violence to continue. And we do continue our efforts to encourage both sides to bring the violence to an end, immediately.”
Hamas has used civilian hubs, such as mosques, hospitals and schools, as grounds for weapon launching and storage. Finnish reporter Aisha Zidan recently confirmed that Hamas has been using Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza to launch rockets. Despite these realities, the White House condemns the destruction of Hamas missile-launching sites.
Even though the White House condemned Hamas’ use of civilians as human shields, they also conditionally condemned Israel practicing self-defense and striking Hamas operatives.
“U.N. facilities, especially those sheltering civilians, must be protected, and must not be used as bases from which to launch attacks,” Earnest said. “The suspicion that militants are operating nearby does not justify strikes that put at risk the lives of so many innocent civilians.”