The spokesman for the United States Department of State, Matthew Miller, maintained this Monday that the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) does not want to release women it has held since October 7 for fear that they will report cases of rape by militiamen
“The reason why this (humanitarian) pause failed is that they do not want these women to be able to talk about what happened to them during their time in custody,” she stated during a press conference in which she was asked about the allegations. of sexual violence as a weapon of war.
Miller has indicated that he does not have an independent assessment but that he has seen reports that Hamas has committed violations, so he has “no reason to doubt those reports” and has stressed that Hamas carried out “all kinds of atrocities.” ” since October 7, when it attacked southern Israel, killing 1,200 Israelis and taking 240 people hostage.
“The humanitarian pause, which resulted in the release of hostages, was negotiated with very clear terms, and that was that children and women would be the first priority to be released. Near the end of the truce, as we neared the end, “Hamas was still holding women who should have been released next and they refused. They broke the deal, they made excuses to explain why,” she explained.
After this, he pointed out that “none of the excuses were credible”, but “certainly one of the reasons why many people believe that they refused to release them is that they did not want people to hear what these women would have to say publicly. “.
On the other hand, the State Department spokesperson has celebrated the “improvement” of the Israeli Army in the new phase of its attacks in the Gaza Strip, which since Sunday includes the ground incursion into the south of the enclave, where they are located. thousands of Palestinians displaced by the orders of the Israeli authorities.
“One of the differences that the Israeli government has proposed going forward is that there are UN-designated facilities in Khan Younis, in the city of Rafah, in central Gaza and in the south, where the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have ordered people to take refuge. Those places are on lists of deconfliction zones that should not be targeted by military campaigns. So we have seen an improvement, at least an intention, in their plans, we will see how it is executed.” , has declared.
Although Israel has bombed areas that it had previously indicated were safe places, such as when it ordered civilians to move from the north to the south of the enclave, Washington has asked the civilian population to go to these sites designated by the UN to take refuge from the Israeli military campaign. However, it is feared that these places will become so overcrowded that there will be no capacity or resources to treat the tens of thousands of people who may go to them.
“When it comes to choosing between being in an area that is undergoing major combat operations or evacuating to a United Nations-run center, whether a refugee center or another facility where food, water and medicine can be obtained, certainly the choice is quite clear,” he stated after being questioned about whether these places are viable options for civilians.
However, he has acknowledged that “conditions are still quite difficult”, so they are trying to increase the level of aid to address the humanitarian issue. To this end, the United States special envoy, David Satterfield, is in the region where he maintains daily conversations with UN agencies with the aim of increasing aid. “They could use more help. They could use more capacity, and that’s something we’re trying to provide in what is, of course, a very challenging environment,” Miller said.
PROTECTION OF CIVILIANS
Finally, the spokesperson has once again acknowledged that the US Government thinks that “too many Palestinians have died in the first weeks of this conflict” and has concluded that this position is not “a secret.”
“We want Israel to take additional steps to minimize harm to civilians,” he repeated, insisting that the US side has pressed Israel on this point when they met. “If we look back at their plans for how they intend to minimize harm to civilians, we have to take a step back and remember that the Israeli military is one of the most professional in the world,” he argued.