Washington, Oct. 23 (EFE).- White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday that the United States will respect Israel’s decisions on when and how to carry out a possible ground invasion of Gaza.
“The Israeli defense will make the decisions it must according to its political leadership. It will make the decisions about what to do, when it will do it and how it will do it,” he said in a virtual press conference with international media.
Kirby was responding to US media reports claiming, based on sources in the Joe Biden administration, that the administration has advised Israel to delay a ground invasion of Gaza in the hope of buying time for hostage negotiations.
The New York Times contends that US officials also want more time to prepare against possible attacks on US interests in the region by Iranian-backed groups, which officials say are likely to escalate once Israel fully deploys its forces in Gaza.
Kirby did not confirm this alleged request to Israel, although he did say that since the conflict erupted last Oct. 7, they have been talking to Israel about the consequences of entering the battlefield and “what that means.”
“I’m not going to get ahead of the Israelis and what they will or won’t do. That would be completely inappropriate. But of course, we are talking to them about all the kinds of consequences (…) that come from making decisions on the battlefield,” he said.
Kirby also referred to Hamas’s decision to release two of the hostages, who were American citizens, on Friday, saying that “the less said about the effort to get hostages out, the better chances we have of getting more hostages out.”
“I would be loath to put anything into the public domain that could make it harder for us to do this going forward. So all I can tell you is that we continue to consult and have conversation with partners in the region to try to get more hostages out, and that work continues,” he said.
The hostages were a mother and daughter, Judith and Natalie Raanan, who were American citizens visiting relatives in Israel.
Their release was brokered by Qatar, and the US says it does not know why they were chosen to be released and not some of the other hostages held by Hamas.
Hamas said it had taken 250 hostages after the Oct. 7 attack that left more than 1,400 dead. And that it was holding 200, while 50 were in the hands of other Palestinian militias.
The Israeli army said there were only 203 hostages being held.
The exact number of hostages with US passports is unknown, but there are currently 13 Americans missing and about 30 dead during the initial attack on Israeli soil. EFE