Former President Obama is warning that any strategy the Israeli military takes in its war against Hamas that ignores the danger to civilians "could ultimately backfire."
Obama made the remark in a lengthy statement posted on Medium, where he said "Israel has a right to defend its citizens against such wanton violence" perpetrated by the Palestinian terrorist group and that he fully supports "President Biden’s call for the United States to support our long-time ally in going after Hamas, dismantling its military capabilities, and facilitating the safe return of hundreds of hostages to their families."
"Still, the world is watching closely as events in the region unfold, and any Israeli military strategy that ignores the human costs could ultimately backfire," Obama said. "Already, thousands of Palestinians have been killed in the bombing of Gaza, many of them children. Hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes.
"The Israeli government’s decision to cut off food, water and electricity to a captive civilian population threatens not only to worsen a growing humanitarian crisis; it could further harden Palestinian attitudes for generations, erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, and undermine long term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region," he added.
The comments come as Israel has built up its military presence along the Gaza border ahead of a possible ground invasion into the territory.
Obama said in his statement that "Hamas’ military operations are deeply embedded within Gaza – and its leadership seems to intentionally hide among civilians, thereby endangering the very people they claim to represent."
"But even as we support Israel, we should also be clear that how Israel prosecutes this fight against Hamas matters. In particular, it matters – as President Biden has repeatedly emphasized – that Israel’s military strategy abides by international law, including those laws that seek to avoid, to every extent possible, the death or suffering of civilian populations," Obama also said.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby had 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.
"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.