Graham claimed in an interview with CNN, yesterday, Sunday, that the Islamic Resistance Movement (agitation) are present “everywhere in Gaza,” and that it is “not possible” for Israel to distinguish between civilians in its attacks.
Graham, a foreign policy hawk who supports Israel's goal of eliminating Hamas, added on CNN's “State of the Union” that “the strategic failure is to allow Hamas to survive,” according to Bloomberg News.
The Republican senator described the ideas of Austin, who believes that “more civilian casualties in Gaza could generate more insurgents,” as “naive.”
He added: “He is very naive. I have lost all trust in this man… Do you know what the Palestinians are taught in schools? The idea that Israel has somehow radicalized the people in Gaza is ridiculous.”
He continued, “They have tunnels everywhere. I think the reason behind the death of many Palestinians is that Hamas wants them dead. If there is a better way to reduce civilian casualties, tell me and I will tell Israel, or tell them directly, but the idea is that Hamas will be there when this matter is over.” “It will be the ultimate strategic failure.”
In his speech at the Reagan National Defense Forum last Saturday, Austin said that he called on “Israeli leaders to avoid civilian casualties and irresponsible rhetoric, prevent settler violence in the West Bank, and significantly expand access to humanitarian aid.”
The US Secretary of Defense added that Israel may suffer a strategic defeat in Gaza if it does not protect civilians.
Regarding the war waged by Israel on Gaza, Austin said, “In this type of war, importance must be given to civilians. If they are pushed into the arms of the enemy (Hamas), you are turning the matter from a tactical victory into a strategic defeat.”
He added, “I have repeatedly told Israeli leaders that protecting Palestinian civilians in Gaza is a moral responsibility and a strategic necessity.”
Austin stressed that “the two-state solution is the only proposed way out of the tragic clashes.”
Last Saturday, US Vice President Kamla Harris reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself against Hamas, but she said that international law and humanitarian law must be respected, noting that a very large number of Palestinians were killed.
Harris told reporters, “Honestly, the extent of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are shocking… Therefore, we all want this conflict to end as quickly as possible, to ensure the security of Israel and to guarantee the security of the Palestinian people. We must accelerate efforts to achieve lasting peace.”
Since last October 7, the Israeli army has been waging a devastating war on Gaza, which has resulted in the deaths of 15,523 and the wounding of 41,316 others so far. It has also left massive infrastructure destruction and an “unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe,” according to official Palestinian and UN sources.