White House Does Not Believe Genocide is Happening in Gaza

White House Does Not Believe Genocide is Happening in Gaza
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan answers questions during the daily press briefing at the White House on May 13, 2024. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan reaffirmed that the Biden administration’s official position is that genocide is not happening as Palestinian civilians in Gaza continue to be killed in the crossfire of Israel’s ongoing war with the Hamas terrorist group.

“We do not believe what is happening in Gaza is a genocide,” Mr. Sullivan told reporters on May 13. “We have been firmly on record rejecting that proposition.”

When asked about the criteria the United States was using to reach that conclusion, Mr. Sullivan said they were using “the internationally accepted terms for genocide, which includes a focus on intent.” He referred reporters to the legal analysis the United States presented before the International Court of Justice for further explanation of that position.

The United Nations (U.N.) defines genocide as being a series of acts “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial, or religious group.”

Specific acts mentioned include killing members of a group, causing “serious bodily or mental harm” to members of that group, the deliberate infliction of living conditions calculated to bring about a group’s whole or partial physical destruction, and “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.”

The UN’s definition also points out that there must be proven intent to physically destroy such a group, which the U.N. Office of Genocide Prevention states is the most difficult element to determine. Cultural destruction and intention to simply disperse a group, the office states, does not suffice, but genocide could be declared against only part of one of the four groups, so long as that part is identifiable and “substantial” as well as within a geographically limited area. Political groups are also exempt from this convention.

Mr. Sullivan told members of the press on May 13 that the United States views this war as one between the State of Israel and Hamas. Israel’s mission is to defeat Hamas and bring its leader, Yahya Sinwar, to justice, while Hamas’s mission, he said, “is to annihilate Israel and kill as many Jews as they can.”

The administration differentiated between Hamas and the Palestinian civilians, who, Mr. Sullivan said, have been “in hell” since Hamas broke the previous ceasefire and started the war on Oct. 7, 2023, when it attacked southern Israel, killing around 1,200 people and taking more than 200 hostages.

“The death and trauma they’ve endured are unimaginable,” he said. “Their pain and suffering are immense. No civilian should have to go through that.”

Mr. Sullivan also said the administration sees Israel has “an unusual—even unprecedented—burden in fighting this war.” He called out Hamas for putting innocent civilians in the crossfire by using hospitals, schools, and other civilian facilities for military purposes, as well as building its network of military tunnels under civilian areas.

However, he said the Biden administration feels those circumstances do not “lessen Israel’s responsibility to do all it can to protect innocent civilians.” He reaffirmed the administration’s push to provide humanitarian assistance throughout the Gaza Strip while also fulfilling its commitments to Israel’s defense, despite withholding “certain offensive weapons,” such as bombs that he said could be used for an offensive on the city of Rafah.

Mr. Sullivan reaffirmed the administration’s position against launching a large-scale military operation into the heart of Rafah.

“Military pressure is necessary but not sufficient to fully defeat Hamas,” he said. “If Israel’s military efforts are not accompanied by a political plan for the future of Gaza and the Palestinian people, the terrorists will keep coming back, and Israel will remain under threat. We are seeing this happen in Gaza City.”

The administration is talking to Israel about how to connect military operations to “a clear strategic end game,” and a “holistic integrated strategy” to ensure Hamas’s lasting defeat and a better alternative for the Palestinian people.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sullivan said that the Biden administration continues to work toward securing a deal that allows for the release of the remaining hostages, highlight that “there could be a ceasefire tomorrow” if Hamas would release women, wounded, and elderly hostages.

“The world is calling for a ceasefire,” he said. “Those who are doing so should go to Hamas and say, ‘Come to the table and work until we get a deal.’

“I can’t predict when it will happen. I can tell you that we remain committed to pressing the diplomacy to achieve that outcome on behalf of the American hostages and all the hostages and on behalf of getting to an enduring calm in Gaza.”

From The Epoch Times

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