US backs Israeli strikes on ‘bad guys’ in Gaza, envoy says
Washington’s ambassador to Israel said the US government is ‘fully supportive’ of recent military action in Gaza
US envoy to Israel Tom Nides said Washington completely supports the fight against “bad guys” in the Gaza strip, days after a flare-up in violence between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants in the blockaded enclave.
Speaking to Israel’s Channel 13 for an interview on Wednesday, Nides said the US government is “aware of the situation going on in Gaza” and believes the latest Israeli operations there last week were part of “an important mission.”
“These are bad guys,” the envoy continued, referring to Palestinian armed groups, adding that “We support Israel’s right to defend itself, its right to basically take the actions it needs to keep this place safe, so we’re fully supportive of Israel’s actions.”
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched several days of strikes on Gaza starting last Friday, largely claiming to target fighters with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), a militant faction accused of firing rockets into Israel. According to local officials, some 44 Palestinians were killed in the operations, including at least one young child.
Though a shaky ceasefire deal was brokered on Sunday with the help of Egyptian mediators and appears to be holding in Gaza, Palestinian officials in the West Bank accused Israeli forces of killing two teenagers in clashes following a raid on the home of a senior militant commander earlier this week. PIJ condemned the deaths, and has warned it would resume its rocket volleys “if the enemy does not abide by what we agreed on,” though fighting has not yet started back up.
Ambassador Nides went on to say that the White House was not informed of Israel’s operations in Gaza ahead of time, but added “I don’t think we were surprised.”
“I don’t think we were told in advance but I think we were aware as the actions were taking place,” he said, again reiterating “We were pretty clear that we support the state of Israel’s security.”
Briefly addressing negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Nides echoed the White House’s increasingly impatient tone toward the Islamic Republic, maintaining that “Every option is on the table” to contain the alleged Iranian threat. Though Tehran has long insisted it has no intention of developing a bomb, the envoy said “We’re not going to allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon,” echoing past remarks by US President Joe Biden.