White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said Monday that the U.S. is asking Israel “tough questions that any military ought to be asking” ahead of a possible ground incursion into the Gaza Strip.
Kirby also said the Israel Defense Forces “need to decide for themselves how they’re going to conduct operations” in the coming days of the war, which began on Oct. 7 and has left a reported total of more than 5,000 people dead so far on both sides.
“I can tell you we have, since the beginning of the conflict in the early hours, maintained a level of communication with our Israeli counterparts to ascertain their intentions, their strategy, their aims to see what their answers are to the kinds of tough questions that any military ought to be asking before you launch any kind of a major operation,” Kirby told reporters gathered at the White House. “Have you thought through the branches, have you thought through the sequence? Have you thought through the unintended consequences? And so we are in active conversation with them about that.”
When asked if the U.S. believes Israel should launch a ground incursion into the Gaza Strip whenever its military is ready, Kirby said that is up to Israel to decide.
“We’re not in the business of dictating terms to them, and we’re certainly not going to be in the business here from the White House of previewing any future operations one way or the other,” he said. “That would be inappropriate.”
Kirby said President Biden has been in contact with Judith and Natalie Raanan, the two American nationals who were freed Friday after being taken captive by Hamas.
“The president had a chance to speak with them and with their families as he told other families – they met in Tel Aviv, family members of others who have been taken hostage – we have no higher priority than the safety of Americans that are being held around the world,” Kirby said.
Kirby also told Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich that “we are going to need congressional support to continue to support Israel and that “we’ve got enough appropriations available to us for a while longer.”
When asked by her about concerns of humanitarian aid ending up in the hands of Hamas, Kirby said the White House has seen “no indications” that any of the trucks of aid that have so far crossed into the Gaza Strip “have been diverted to Hamas or been absconded by Hamas.”