The US is focused on getting Gazans to safe areas, President Joe Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Sunday.
In an interview with American CBS News, Sullivan said Washington is also working to make sure Gaza residents can get access to food, water, medicine, shelter, and that they can be protected from the fighting as it intensifies and as a potential ground operation moves forward.
“We’re focused right now on getting them to safe areas, not in the north of Gaza, but down in the south of Gaza,” said the senior US official.
Sullivan said the US is also in talks with Israeli officials about their plans for moving in on the ground in Gaza.
“It’s not for me to say what their timetable is,” said Sullivan.
On a question if Iran’s threat is growing in the region, Sullivan said the US does not have specific new intelligence that the threat is different today from yesterday.
“The threat yesterday was real. The threat today is real. There is a risk of an escalation of this conflict, the opening of a second front in the north, and of course of Iran’s involvement – that is a risk,” said Sullivan.
“We have means of communicating privately with Iran. And we have availed ourselves of those means over the past few days to make clear privately that which we have said publicly,” said the official.
Sullivan also said the US will work with Israel, the UN, Egypt, Jordan, and other countries to do all to ensure the protection of civilians and that those civilians have access to the basic necessities of food and water, of shelter, of medicine.
“That is a priority of ours, in the hours and days ahead, excuse me, in the hours and days ahead,” said Sullivan.
He also said Hamas is not looking out for Gazan people’s welfare and well-being, adding that Palestinian people in Gaza deserve a leadership that allows them to live in peace and dignity and security.
Last weekend, in a dramatic escalation of Middle East tensions, Israeli forces launched a sustained military push against the Gaza Strip, a response to a military offensive by the Palestinian group Hamas in Israeli territories.
The conflict began when Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel, a multi-pronged surprise attack including a barrage of rocket launches and infiltrations into Israel via land, sea, and air.
Hamas said the operation was in retaliation for the storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.
The Israeli military then launched Operation Swords of Iron against Hamas targets within the Gaza Strip.
Israel’s response has extended into cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza, further worsening living conditions in an area that has endured a crippling siege since 2007, as well as ordering more than 1 million Gazans in the northern strip to evacuate to the southern region.