US urges swift end to Israel-Hamas war amid mounting concerns, rift with Israel

The United States wants the Israel-Hamas war to end “as soon as possible,” the White House said Thursday, after Israel’s defense minister told a top US official it would last several months more.

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had also discussed Israel moving to “low-intensity operations” against Gaza “in the near future” during his visit to Tel Aviv, White House spokesman John Kirby said.

Mounting civilian casualties in Gaza as Israel responds to the October 7 attacks by Hamas have caused a growing rift between allies United States and Israel.

“I think we all want it to end as soon as possible,” Kirby told reporters at a briefing, adding that it “could end today” if Hamas backed down but “that doesn’t look likely right now.”

Kirby said that Washington was “not dictating terms” to Israel and that the timeline given by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant was “consistent” with what Israeli officials had previously said.

But during his visit to Israel, top advisor Sullivan had asked “hard questions” of Israeli officials about the course of their offensive against the Palestinian enclave, added the spokesman.

“He did talk about possible transitioning from what we would call high-intensity operations, which is what we’re seeing them do now, to lower intensity operations sometime in the near future,” Kirby said.

“But I don’t want to put a timestamp on it.”

US President Joe Biden has strongly backed Israel but on Tuesday he issued his strongest criticism yet, warning that Israel risked losing global support over “indiscriminate bombing.”

The war, now in its third month, began after the Palestinian group’s unprecedented October 7 attacks on Israel that Israeli officials say killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians.

In response, Israel vowed to destroy Hamas and launched an unrelenting military offensive that has left swathes of Gaza in ruins. The health ministry in the Hamas-run territory said 18,787 people have been killed, mostly women and children.

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