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Biden Administration Nervous About Public Opinion Backlash over Gaza Civilian Deaths

Growing international pressure over Israel’s barbaric slaughter of Palestinians worries the Biden administration. President Joe Biden makes no bones about his support for Israel’s onslaught in Gaza, but there’s a little matter of public opinion that is not moving in his favor. As he admitted during a White House Hanukkah party last night, “[W]e continue to provide military aid to Israel until they get rid of Hamas,” but, he added, “we have to be careful—they have to be careful. The whole world’s public opinion can shift overnight. We can’t let that happen.” So having bodies pile up, especially of small children, the elderly and women, isn’t good “optics.”

When talking about Israel’s level of support globally, he almost went too far for comfort, letting slip that they’re close to “los[ing] that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place.”

According to the Times of Israel, when National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan arrives in Jerusalem at the end of this week, high on his agenda will be urging Israel to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza and “raising concerns” about civilian casualties. What also appears to be on the agenda, which City of London mouthpieces The Economist and Financial Times say Washington is expecting, is for Israel to change tactics by early in January, moving away from the full ground offensive and into a pursuit of Hamas leaders and other high-value targets.

FT reports that this has come from “several U.S. officials” speaking anonymously. The key to decision-making about strategy hinges on Khan Younis, where the Israelis claim senior Hamas leaders are hiding out. But after Khan Younis,, the plan is to move to “more of a raid-like disposition.”

The Economist puts it in stronger terms, saying “it increasingly looks as though the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have just weeks to finish the job before America, Israeli’s vital ally, withdraws support for the offensive. Success looks unlikely.” While claiming to have killed 30,000 Hamas fighters, Israel has failed to capture Hamas’ Yahya Sinwar, its top boss in Gaza, or Muhammad Deif and Marwan Issa (the two commanders of its fighting forces). The Israelis say they would need a months-long slog to be successful, but “they may not have that long,” because “the civilian death toll has already drained away international support for Israel’s offensive. Now, America, its indispensable ally, is wavering.”