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White House says Israel should not reoccupy Gaza, after Netanyahu remarks

ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — The White House on Tuesday repeated its opposition to an Israeli reoccupation of Gaza after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ABC News’ World News Tonight anchor David Muir he believed Israel will oversee Gaza’s security for “an indefinite period.”

On Monday, Netanyahu, in his first U.S. media interview since the conflict erupted following the deadly Hamas terror attack on Oct. 7, was asked by Muir who should control Gaza when the conflict ends.

The prime minister said he thinks Israel will have “overall security responsibility” over Gaza for an “indefinite period.” President Joe Biden, meanwhile, has warned against Israel reoccupying Gaza and is pressing for a two-state solution with the Palestinian Authority taking control.

ABC News Senior White House Correspondent Selina Wang pressed National Security Council spokesman John Kirby on the apparent differences between what the U.S. and Israel see as the future of Gaza.

“We’re having active discussions with our Israeli counterparts about what post-conflict Gaza ought to look like,” Kirby responded. “The president maintains his position that a reoccupation by Israeli forces is not the right thing to do. We’ll let them speak to their intentions. But we are definitely having conversations about what the post-conflict environment ought to look like, and what governance in Gaza ought to look like.”

Kirby followed that statement by highlighting a clear area of agreement between the U.S. and Israel: that Hamas be removed completely from the territory.

“One thing there’s absolutely no daylight on is Hamas can’t be part of that equation,” Kirby said. “We can’t go back to Oct. 6.”

Kirby appeared at the White House daily briefing to mark the one-month mark of the Israel-Gaza war.

In Israel, at least 1,400 people have been killed and 6,900 others have been injured since the surprise terror attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, according to Israeli officials. In the neighboring Gaza Strip, where Israel Defense Forces are expanding its operational activities, more than 10,000 people have been killed and nearly 26,000 have been injured, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry.

“One month in it’s good for everybody to take a knee, take a pause, and remember the scope of the suffering here and the terrible images many of us have seen coming out of both Israel and Gaza,” Kirby said.

Kirby was also asked by ABC News if Israel is following the rules of war, in light of a recent statement from the United Nations secretary general that Gaza has become a “graveyard for children.”

As of Friday, 67% of all deaths in Gaza were made up of women and children while thousands more have been injured, according to several U.N. agencies, including the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), the United Nations sexual and reproductive health agency (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“What I’ll tell you is that we continue to stress to our Israeli counterparts that they [be] as discriminate and careful in their targeting as possible,” Kirby said. “And it is sad to see, it’s horrible to see the images of young kids being pulled out of rubble and so many of them not making it. Hamas is putting those children and their families in greater danger by not letting them go, by encouraging them to stay, by sheltering in their homes.”

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