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White House: 'We'll be watching' if Israel makes changes

The White House has stood by Israel, providing military assistance. But changes to that support could come if Israel doesn't meet some U.S. demands.
White House: 'We'll be watching' if Israel makes changes
Posted at 8:13 AM, Apr 05, 2024

Days after Israel carried out an attack on relief workers in Gaza, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told Scripps News that the White House would be watching to see if Israel lives up to its promise to open relief efforts in Gaza. 

On Thursday, President Joe Biden spoke with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The White House said that during the call, Netanyahu vowed to open the Ashdod port for the direct delivery of assistance into Gaza, open the Erez crossing for a new route for assistance to reach north Gaza, and increase deliveries from Jordan directly into Gaza.

Many international groups have said Gazans are starving, but the latest attack has hampered efforts to feed displaced residents. World Central Kitchen said it was suspending operations in Gaza and has demanded an independent investigation. 

Kirby said only time will tell whether Israel will live up to its promise. The White House has long vowed to support Israel in its fight against Hamas, but the attack that left seven aid workers from World Central Kitchen dead appeared to cause a reset in U.S.-Israel relations. 

"The president was very direct with Prime Minister Netanyahu yesterday that we need to see some changes in the way they're prosecuting these operations and going after Hamas," Kirby told Scripps News. "Changes that preserve civilian, innocent civilian life, that preserve the ability of humanitarian aid workers to get the distribution of goods, food, water, medicine to the people of Gaza, and frankly, a movement forward on a hostage deal so we can get a cease-fire in place so we can get hostages home.

"We need to see more practical movement on it or, as the president said, we'll have to make some policy changes about our support for what they're doing in Gaza."

SEE MORE: Israel dismisses 2 officers over deadly strikes on aid workers in Gaza

Kirby would not say what those policy changes might look like if Israel fails to live up to its promises. Kirby's comments came just as the Israel Defense Forces released a report highlighting failures made in misidentifying World Central Kitchen staff as Hamas militants. 

"Opening up a couple of extra crossings, committing to more trucks going in and taking some accountability for some of the people involved in that strike, all that's welcome," Kirby said. "Prime Minister Netanyahu assured the president, at the president's request, that he would take those kinds of actions. These are welcome developments, but they're fresh, they're brand new.

"We want to see them fully implemented, fully acted on, not just today but over time."

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