U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that there was a "gap" between Israeli commitments to protect civilians and the impact seen on the ground in Gaza as death tolls climbed. Photo by Olivier Matthys/EPA-EFE
Dec. 8 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that there is a "gap" between Israel's stated goal of protecting civilians in Gaza and what they are seeing on the ground where civilians continue to make up the vast number of casualties.
Speaking at a joint meeting with British Foreign Minister David Cameron on Thurssday, Blinken said that it "matters a great deal" how Israel conducts its campaign against Hamas "particularly when it comes to doing everything possible to minimize harm to civilians."
"As we stand here almost a week into this campaign in the south after the end of the humanitarian pause, it is imperative -- it remains imperative -- that Israel put a premium on civilian protection, and there does remain a gap between exactly what I said when I was there, the intent to protect civilians, and the actual results that we're seeing on the ground," Blinken said.
In its latest update, the Palestinian Health Ministry said that 17,177 people have been killed since the start of the war while 46,000 have been injured, with 70% of the victims including women and children.
Gaza health officials said that included at least 32 civilians who were killed and dozens more who were injured after a 7-day truce that brought a pause to fighting to facilitate the release of Israeli hostages and Palestinian prisoners that fell apart last week.
In the days following, Israel expanded its ground offensive as it struck 200 targets including Hamas infrastructure in a school and two tunnel shafts. At the time Israel said its military death toll totaled 401.
The expansion of the ground offensive included additional evacuation orders of areas within Gaza, with the United Nations saying on Tuesday that more than 600,000 people in southern Gaza had been ordered to move to avoid Israeli attacks and warned that its humanitarian operation in the region was at a "breaking point."
Blinken said it was important to not only have safe areas but to make sure that the communications are such that people know where they can go, and when they can go there safely; making very clear when the periods of being able to move from one place to another are in place.
"Daily pauses; making sure that those pauses apply not just to one neighborhood but to a broader area so that, again, people have the confidence to know that they can move out of harm's way and move to a safe area," Blinken said.
Blinken said those safe areas should be "fully resourced" with supplied with things like food, medicine, and water, for example.