US Raises Pressure to Protect Civilians; Israel Bombards Southern Gaza

NBC News
US Raises Pressure to Protect Civilians; Israel Bombards Southern Gaza Palestinians peer out from damaged residential buildings following Israeli airstrikes in the Rafah refugee camp in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. (photo: Said Khatib/AFP)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the war “until we achieve all its goals” as his military’s push into packed southern Gaza raised global concern.

What we know

  • Israel intensified its bombardment of the Gaza Strip and withdrew its team of negotiators from Qatar after talks to renew the truce with Hamas collapsed. A senior Hamas official said no more hostages would be freed in a prisoner exchange until there is a cease-fire, while rockets continued to be fired into Israel's south.

  • Israel faced mounting public pressure from the United States to do more to protect civilians, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to continue the war "until we achieve all its goals."

  • The Israeli military's push into packed southern Gaza has raised global concern. Israel says Hamas leaders are hiding alongside the masses it urged to flee south during weeks of aerial bombardment and ground battles in the north. Israel has warned civilians to evacuate specific neighborhoods, but those in Gaza say there is no guaranteed safe place to go.

  • About 1.8 million people have been displaced in Gaza, where health officials say the death toll had surpassed 15,000 after weeks of Israeli attacks, and hundreds have been killed since fighting resumed. The Israel Defense Forces estimates 1,200 people were killed in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack, with around 140 people still held captive in Gaza.

  • NBC News’ Richard Engel, Raf Sanchez, Ali Arouzi and David Noriega are reporting from the region.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Sunday that he has "lost all confidence” in Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin after his recent remarks saying Israel risks a “strategic defeat” if it doesn’t take actions to protect civilians.

In a speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California yesterday, Austin discussed his efforts to urge Israeli leaders to reduce civilian casualties. “The center of gravity is the civilian population and if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat," he said.

Graham rebuked Austin’s comments in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “He’s so naïve. I mean, I’ve just lost all confidence in this guy," he said. “Strategic defeat would be inflaming the Palestinians? They’re already inflamed."

The South Carolina Republican also argued that Israel is fighting a “radical population” that is “not just Hamas, but the infrastructure around Hamas."

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