US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin said Israel may face a strategic defeat in the Gaza Strip if Palestinian civilians are not protected.
“In this kind of a fight, the centre of gravity is the civilian population. And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat,” Austin said at the Reagan National Defence Forum in California on Saturday.
“So I have repeatedly made clear to Israel’s leaders that protecting Palestinian civilians in Gaza is both a moral responsibility and a strategic imperative,” he added.
Israel has killed more than 16,000 Palestinians in Gaza since 7 October, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, 6,150 of the victims are children.