WASHINGTON: The United States does not want a wider war with Iran or the region, the White House said on Monday, adding that the administration believes a single drone was responsible for targeting US service members in Jordan over the weekend.
National security spokesman John Kirby also told MSNBC in an interview that talks to release prisoners in Gaza have been constructive and that then US sees a framework for another deal.
Gazans said the renewed violence made a mockery of a ruling by the World Court calling on Israel to do more to help civilians. Health officials say 26,637 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict with thousands more bodies likely under the rubble of destroyed buildings across the coastal territory.
On the other hand, Israel relaunched an assault overnight on Gaza’s main northern city, weeks after retreat, residents said, while Washington considered its response to the first deadly strike on its forces in the Middle East since the Gaza war began.
Talks to release prisoners in Gaza have been constructive, says John Kirby
Three US servicemen were killed and at least 34 wounded in a drone attack in Jordan near the Syrian border for which US Central Command immediately blamed Iran. US President Joe Biden said the attacks were carried out by Iran-backed groups operating in Syria and Iraq.
While Iran has denied any involvement, Biden ordered “retaliatory” attacks on Iranian-backed groups.
At the same time, the US president stopped short of hitting Iran directly for fear of igniting a broader war amid violence that has already hampered global trade through attacks on ships in the Red Sea. “Have no doubt, we will hold all those responsible to account at a time and in a manner of our choosing,” Biden said.
Two more journalists killed
Inside Gaza, residents said Israeli air strikes on neighbourhoods across Gaza City killed and wounded many people. While tanks shelled the eastern areas of the city, naval boats fired shells and gun rounds at the beachfront areas in the west, they said.
Among those killed were two Palestinian journalists, Essam El-lulu and Hussein Attalah, along with several members of their families, health officials and the journalist union said.
“The war continues in a dirtier manner,” said Gaza resident Mustafa Ibrahim, a Palestinian human rights activist now displaced with his family in Rafah near the southern border with Egypt, along with more than a million other Gazans.
People in the north have been grinding animal feed to make flour after flour, rice and sugar ran out, part of an aid crisis now exacerbated by a withdrawal of support for the UN’s aid agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. The US, the UK, Canada and Germany have suspended aid to UNRWA, which says it would have to end relief work if funding was not restored.
Mindful of the growing risks of a wider conflagration, Biden and other leaders have been pushing for a new temporary ceasefire to allow for the release of prisoners held by Hamas.
Talks on Sunday initiated by Qatar and involving US, Israeli and Eygptian intelligence chiefs were “constructive”, Israel said, while adding that “significant gaps” remain.
Hamas has demanded a guaranteed end to Israel’s offensive in Gaza and full withdrawal before it frees the more than 100 people still held in Gaza, out of 253 seized when militants attacked Israeli bases and towns on Oct. 7.
Published in Dawn, January 30th, 2024