Israel’s ‘total victory’ in Gaza is unlikely, top US official says

The Biden administration doesn’t believe Israel’s current strategy against the Hamas militant group will lead to “total victory,” a top U.S. official said Monday.

Speaking at the NATO Youth Summit in Miami, Deputy Secretary of State Kurt Campbell said the U.S. has been “struggling over what the theory of victory is” in Gaza.

“Sometimes when we listen closely to Israeli leaders, they talked about mostly the idea of some sort of sweeping victory on the battlefield, total victory,” Campbell said. “I don’t think we believe that that is likely or possible.”

It’s the most blunt articulation yet from a Biden administration official that Israel may not be able to achieve the full victory over Hamas that it has promised in Gaza. U.S. officials have previously warned that Israel can’t defeat Hamas’ ideology.

Israel has pledged to continue its military operation in Gaza until Hamas’ is defeated, in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described as “absolute victory.”

Many countries want to see a “political solution in which the rights of Palestinians are more respected,” Campbell added. “I don’t think it’s ever been more difficult than right now, but I still believe that the commitment is there.”

Separately, national security adviser Jake Sullivan stressed to reporters Monday that while the U.S. will continue to offer its advice to Israel, it is a sovereign country that will make its own decisions.

“Their leadership is choosing how to prosecute this war. They’re going to make those decisions,” Sullivan said. “With the question of a strategic endgame, I don’t think that’s really a question about American influence. That’s a question about Israel’s strategy and what Israel chooses to do.”

Those remarks come as Israel continues its devastating military operation across the Gaza Strip. Hundreds of thousands of civilians have fled the southern city of Rafah as Israeli troops conducted targeted operations over the past weeks to root out militants hiding there.

Israel’s military operation has also dealt a blow to the country’s reputation on the world stage. On Sunday, Egypt joined South Africa in its case in front of the International Court of Justice alleging that Israel has committed genocide in the enclave.

The Palestinian death toll in Gaza has reached more than 35,000 in seven months due to Israel’s military operation, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said Monday.

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