On December 3, 2023, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris expressed deep concern over the escalating civilian casualties in Gaza following the Israeli airstrikes and artillery bombardments. These attacks have been initiated after the failure of a ceasefire with Hamas, leading to growing fear among the residents of a potential Israeli ground operation in the southern Palestinian territory.
Rising Civilian Casualties
The Gaza Health Ministry reported that at least 193 Palestinian civilians have been killed since the ceasefire ended on Friday. The distressing images and videos emerging from Gaza have sparked an international outcry, with Harris emphasizing the dire need to respect international law and human rights.
US Standpoint on the Israel-Gaza Conflict
While Harris asserted that Israel has the right to defend itself, she emphasized that the scale of civilian suffering cannot be overlooked. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin echoed Harris's sentiments, stating that it is not just a legal but also a 'moral responsibility' of Israel to protect Gaza's civilian population. Austin warned that targeting civilians could result in a strategic defeat, despite any tactical victories.
International Concern over Gaza Crisis
The intensifying offensive in southern Gaza and the rising death toll, despite evacuation orders, have deepened international concern. Israel's action has not only drawn criticism from US officials but also sparked an investigation by the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor into potential crimes by both Hamas and Israeli forces.