Top US General Cautions over Risks in Long Gaza War

People check buildings destroyed in an Israeli strike on the Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on November 2, 2023, as battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement continue. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
People check buildings destroyed in an Israeli strike on the Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on November 2, 2023, as battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement continue. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
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Top US General Cautions over Risks in Long Gaza War

People check buildings destroyed in an Israeli strike on the Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on November 2, 2023, as battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement continue. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)
People check buildings destroyed in an Israeli strike on the Bureij refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on November 2, 2023, as battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement continue. (Photo by MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

A faster resolution to the fighting in Gaza could help limit civilian strife that might spur people to join the ranks of Palestinian militants, US President Joe Biden's top military adviser said.

General Charles Q. Brown, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Israel's stated aim for its military campaign in Gaza -- the complete destruction of the Hamas militant group that runs the territory -- was "a pretty large order."

But he also said Israel was focused on targeting the senior leadership of Hamas, which might be achieved more quickly.

"I think the longer this goes, the harder it can become," Brown told reporters before arriving in Japan on Thursday, in his first detailed remarks on the month-old conflict, Reuters reported.

Israel launched a ground and air offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip after gunmen crossed from the small enclave into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,400 people and taking about 240 others hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Palestinian officials said 10,569 Gaza residents had been killed as of Wednesday, about 40% of them children, and humanitarian problems are mounting.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday the number of civilians killed in Gaza showed there was something "clearly wrong" with Israel's military operations.

Brown, who took over as the US military's top officer just over a month ago, expressed confidence that Israel was abiding by the laws of war in Gaza.

He also said there was room for Israel's military to improve in its public explanations about its conduct, and that he had raised this with his Israeli counterpart.

"There's room for improvement based on what we're seeing," Brown said. "What I've talked to him about is how do we demonstrate -- not only with the videos but also as they talk about the strikes -- why they're striking in some locations, provide more context to the strike."

Asked whether he was concerned a high Palestinian civilian death toll could push people to join the ranks of the militants, Brown said: "Yes, very much so. And I think that's something we have to pay attention to."

"That's why when we talk about time -- the faster you can get to a point where you stop the hostilities, you have less strife for the civilian population that turns into someone who now wants to be the next member of Hamas," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Israelis the country is in a "tough war" that will also be long.

"(Almost) every conflict that I've been involved with throughout my military career ... (has) particularly gone a bit longer than most people would have imagined. So we've got to prepare ourselves for that," he said.



Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
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Israel Carries Out New Raids in Gaza as Netanyahu Visits US 

This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)
This picture taken in Khan Younis shows smoke billowing during Israeli military operations in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on July 24, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas. (AFP)

Israeli forces carried out new raids in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, hours before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was due to address the US Congress.

The latest Israeli attacks destroyed homes in towns east of Khan Younis in southern Gaza and thousands of people were forced to head west to seek shelter, residents said.

The Palestinian Civil Emergency Service said it had received distress calls from residents trapped in their homes in Bani Suhaila, east of Khan Younis, but were unable to reach the town.

Israel's military, which is trying to eradicate the armed group Hamas after the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, said it had been operating in areas from which fighters had been able to fire rockets into Israel and attack Israeli troops.

Gaza health officials said Israeli military strikes in the past 24 hours had killed at least 55 people, the latest casualties in a war that health authorities in the enclave say has killed more than 39,000 Palestinians.

"Where should we go? Shall we cross into the sea?" said Ghada, who has been displaced with her family six times during the war, said from Hamas City in northwestern Khan Younis.

"We are exhausted, starved, and want the war to end now, now not an hour later. Every day means more families are wiped off the registration book," she told Reuters via a chat app.

Local residents said they had been ordered to head west towards a designated humanitarian area, but that the area was now unsafe.

Israeli forces also carried out airstrikes on several areas of central and northern Gaza Strip, killing and wounding several Palestinians, health officials said.

Residents of Rafah, near the border with Egypt, said Israeli forces had blown up several houses in the west of the city.

PALESTINIANS CRITICISE U.S.

Hamas-led fighters triggered the war on Oct. 7 by storming into southern Israel, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 captives, according to Israeli tallies. Some 120 hostages are still being held though Israel believes one in three are dead.

Some Palestinians who gathered at a hospital in Khan Younis before funerals criticized the United States, Israel's most important international ally, for welcoming Netanyahu.

The Israel leader was due to address Congress later on Wednesday and to meet President Joe Biden at the White House on Thursday. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said he would meet Netanyahu in Florida on Friday.

"The United States is a main partner in what is happening in Gaza. We are being killed because of the United States. We are being slaughtered by American planes, American ships, American tanks, and American troops," said Kazem Abu Taha, a displaced resident from Rafah.

A senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters: "The Congress invitation to Netanyahu to make a speech gives legitimacy to the crimes of the war of genocide in Gaza. Receiving a war criminal is a shame to all Americans."

Israel has rejected accusations brought by South Africa at the UN's top court that its military operation in Gaza is a state-led genocide campaign against Palestinians. It has reacted angrily to a decision by the International Criminal Court's prosecutor to seek an arrest warrant against Netanyahu.

Netanyahu said this week a deal to release Israelis held captive in Gaza could be near. But Hamas officials said Netanyahu was stalling and that they had not seen any change in the Israeli stance that would allow an agreement to be reached.

Hamas wants a ceasefire agreement to end the war in Gaza. Netanyahu says the war cannot end before Hamas is eradicated.