Israeli commanders must make ‘tough decisions’ tackling Hamas bases in hospitals, schools: John Kirby


Israeli commanders are being forced to make “tough decisions” on attacking Hamas bases embedded in civilian infrastructure, according to the White House.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby spoke with the press Tuesday about the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza.

Asked if the U.S. is generating accurate statistics on casualties, Kirby said the U.S. government “can’t independently verify some of these numbers going on [regarding] casualties.”

“We are not measuring, analyzing, independently assessing – these are Israeli operations,” Kirby said, though affirming that the U.S. does have “some sense” of the situation independent of Israeli statistics. “I don’t want to make too much of a comparison here, but we don’t do that for Ukraine either.”

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John Kirby, National Security Council spokesman, and press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre during a news conference at the White House. (Leigh Vogel/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The Palestinian Ministry of Health claimed Monday that more than 10,000 people have now died inside the Gaza Strip during the war. 

Since the ground offensive in Gaza began over a week ago, at least 30 IDF troops have been killed, in addition to the more than 1,400 people killed in Israel – most of them in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that started the fighting. As of Monday morning, there have also been at least 242 hostages taken from Israel into Gaza. 

Kirby was asked a follow-up question on whether the U.S. is confident that weapons transferred to the Israeli military are being used within international laws of war.

“We provide security assistance to any foreign nation, including Israel, with the full expectation that those weapons will be used in keeping with the law of armed conflict,” Kirby replied. “That’s no different here for Israel than it is for anybody else.”

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John Kirby at podium

Kirby clarified that the U.S. does not have independently verified statistics on casualties in the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. (Andrews Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

Pressed further, Kirby said that Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are forced to make “tough choices” on targets due to the use of formerly civilian infrastructure by Hamas militants.

“When you’re fighting in urban warfare, you’ve got to make some tough choices about your targets,” Kirby told the reporter. “Something could be a completely legal target, but because the civilian casualty count is too high, you maybe you don’t do it. Maybe you make a policy decision not to do it.”

He continued, “These are the kinds of tough decisions that Israeli commanders are going to have to make for themselves. We’re going to keep urging them to be as discriminant and careful and cautious as possible.”

John Kirby answers question

Kirby said IDF commanders must make “tough choices” on military targets due to Hamas embedding forces within formerly civilian infrastructure. (Leigh Vogel/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

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The IDF has released images and accompanying graphics claiming an extensive command post exists under Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. The Al-Shifa Hospital is the largest medical care facility in Gaza, with 1,500 beds and over 4,000 staff members.

A senior Hamas leader called the allegations “baseless” in a statement reported by the Times of Israel.

Fox News Digital’s Chris Pandolfo and Greg Norman contributed to this report.



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