Israel’s failure to protect civilians may cause ‘strategic defeat’: US Defense Secy

Washington: United States (US) Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has said that Israel may suffer a strategic defeat in Gaza if it does not protect civilians.

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His statement came during a Reagan National Defence Forum in Simi Valley, California on Saturday, December 2.

Regarding the war waged by Israel on Gaza, Austin said, “In this type of war, importance must be given to civilians. If they are pushed into the arms of the enemy (Hamas), the matter will turn from a tactical victory into a strategic defeat.”

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He added, “I have repeatedly told Israeli leaders that protecting Palestinian civilians in Gaza is a moral responsibility and a strategic necessity.”

He stressed that “the two-state solution is the only proposed way out of the tragic conflict.”

“Without a horizon of hope, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will remain an engine of instability and insecurity and human suffering,” he added.

Israeli military offensive on Gaza Strip led to the deaths of at least 15,899 people and the wounding of at least 42,000 others, according to the Gaza health ministry on Monday  December 4. Among the victims, 70 percent were women and children, it added.

Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip has led to major shortages of food, fuel and medicine, crushed the medical system, and left 2.2 million Gazans at risk of drought and famine.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) estimated that about 1.8 million people have been displaced in Gaza since October 7.

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