Friday, June 21, 2024

US says ‘innocent people killed’ in Israeli rescue operation in Gaza

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan has confirmed that “innocent people were killed” in Israel's military operation that rescued four Israeli hostages over the weekend in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli military said it rescued four hostages in a special operation in central Gaza on Saturday. CNN’s Dana Bash asked Sullivan on “State of the Union” whether the U.S. can confirm how many people were killed in the operation, noting that two separate hospitals in the area said at least 236 people were reportedly killed.

Sullivan explained that the Gaza Health Ministry and the Israeli military have put out differing numbers and that the U.S. could not confirm how many casualties there were.

“We, the United States, are not in a position today to make a definitive statement about that. The Israeli defense forces have put out one number. The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry has put out another number,” he stated.

“But we do know this, Dana. Innocent people were tragically killed in this operation. The exact number we don’t know, but innocent people were killed. And that is heartbreaking. That is tragic,” he added.

He noted that the Joe Biden administration would prefer a cease-fire deal to get hostages home instead of military operations, adding Biden “thinks the best way to get all of the hostages home is in a deal where they’re brought out diplomatically, where there’s no need for military operations to get every last hostage out”.

“In the absence of that, without Hamas saying yes to the deal, unfortunately, we are going to continue to see ongoing conflict and military operations in which Israel makes efforts to recover its citizens and, frankly, to recover American citizens. What we would much prefer to see is a cease-fire where the hostages come out peacefully.”

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said Sunday that at least 274 Palestinians were killed in the operation, and another 700 were wounded. The ministry also announced that at least 37,000 have been killed in the ongoing fighting since the war began after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Sullivan also stated Sunday that the U.S. was not militarily involved in the Israeli hostage rescue mission.

“Well, the one thing I can say is that there were no U.S. forces, no U.S. boots on the ground involved in this operation. We did not participate militarily in this operation,” he added.

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