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Top Biden Official Travels to Israel and Asks IDF to Scale Back Gaza Counteroffensive

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan Photo: AFP
US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan Photo: AFP

By: Jake Smith, Daily Caller News Foundation

A key U.S. national security official visited Israel on Thursday and sought to have the IDF limit the scope of its ground invasion in Gaza, The New York Times reported.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan traveled to Israel to meet with top leadership, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and discuss the “timetable” for Israel’s counteroffensive against Hamas in Gaza, according to the Times. During their discussions, Sullivan underscored the Biden administration’s desire for Israel to reel in its ground assault in Gaza and transition to smaller-scale operations within the next few weeks.

Such operations would include the deployment of elite Israeli special operation units into Gaza that could move in and out of the dense urban environment effectively, U.S. officials told the NYT. It would also aim to carry out more narrow missions focused on hunting down and killing top Hamas leadership hiding in Gaza, hostage rescue operations and the destruction of the underground tunnel network where Hamas members are located.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Thursday that eradicating Hamas was Israel’s top priority and noted challenges of the counteroffensive due to Hamas’ footing in its tunnel network, according to the Times. The underground network spans 300 miles across the entirety of Gaza; the IDF began flooding them with seawater this week, and also is using drones, dogs, robots and liquid explosives to destroy them.

Prior to his meeting with Sullivan on Thursday, Gallant told Secretary of State Antony Blinken in November that the IDF is committed to carrying through its counteroffensive until Hamas is eliminated.

“The entire Israeli society is united behind the goal of dismantling Hamas, even if it takes months,” Gallant told Blinken in a closed-door meeting in November. “I don’t think you have the credit for that,” Blinken responded.

For their part, President Joe Biden and Netanyahu have disagreed on what the governing authority should look like in a post-war Gaza. Biden is pressing to have a revamped Palestinian Authority regain control in the war’s aftermath, but Netanyahu dismissed the possibility on Tuesday.

Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz seemed to reaffirm Netanyahu’s comments again on Thursday, declaring that Israel would maintain “full security control” in Gaza after the war ended, according to the Post.

“In this war, there is no ‘day after,’” Gantz told reporters on Thursday, according to the Post. “There will be a long, difficult, necessary process, at different levels of force – days, and months, and years.”

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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