Following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza that killed at least 10 civilians, including four children, the State Department said it supports Israel’s right to “protect itself.”
Israel began targeting the Gaza Strip on Tuesday. According to the Palestinian Health Ministry, the initial round of airstrikes killed 15 people, including four children, six other civilians, and three members of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
“We are closely following Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip that killed three leaders of Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Israel has the right to protect itself and its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by terrorist groups,” a State Department spokesperson told Antiwar.com in an email on Wednesday.
“We are also aware of reports that 10 civilians were tragically killed in the Israeli strikes. We call for all parties to deescalate the situation,” the spokesperson added.
Later on Wednesday, the Pentagon said Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with his Israeli counterpart, Yoav Gallant, and reaffirmed the US’s “ironclad” support for Israel. According to the Israeli side, Gallant told Austin Israel was prepared to wage a “prolonged campaign” in Gaza.
Israeli airstrikes continued in Gaza on Wednesday. At least six more people were killed, including a 10-year-old girl and four fighters for a group called the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Wednesday’s strikes brought the total death toll to 21, including five children.
When asked about the civilian casualties after the first round of airstrikes, the Israeli military said it was “aware of some collateral” and did not comment further. The Israeli military dubbed its offensive “Operation Shield and Arrow.”
In response to the Israeli airstrikes, the Palestinian Joint Command, a group of armed factions in Gaza, launched an operatiion and began firing rockets into Israel. So far, there have been no reports of casualties on the Israeli side.
The fighting showed no sign of waning as of Wednesday night despite Egypt’s efforts to broker a ceasefire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been facing a political crisis over his planned judicial overhaul, warned that “this round is not over” in a televised address. “We see you everywhere. You can’t hide, and we choose the place and time to strike you,” he said.