Israel will decide when to end its war against the Hamas terrorist group, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said during an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN on Sunday.
“We have these discussions with Israel, including about the duration as well as how it’s prosecuting this campaign against Hamas. These are decisions for Israel to make,” Blinken said.
The current high-intensity phase of Israel’s war against Hamas will continue for at least two more months, Hebrew media reported on Sunday.
At the end of that period, the IDF will transition to targeted operations in Gaza, according to the reports.
During those two months, there will be additional attempts to make deals for the remaining estimated 135 hostages held by Hamas, according to sources cited by the report.
The sources added that at some point during the next two months, Israel will allow some residents of the Gaza Strip to return to their homes. This is due to an American demand as well as IDF operational needs, according to the report.
American news site Politico reported on Friday that President Joe Biden has given Israel until the end of the year to wrap up operations. However, the report was quickly walked back, with a U.S. National Security Council spokesperson responding: “These are Israeli military operations and the Israelis will decide their course. We will continue to support Israel’s efforts to defend itself from Hamas terrorists.”
The U.S. has so far backed Israel in its effort to eradicate Hamas, on Friday vetoing a U.N. Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire during an emergency meeting called by Secretary-General António Guterres.
Thirteen members of the 15-strong UNSC voted in favor of the resolution, while Britain abstained.
“I greatly appreciate the correct stance that the U.S. has taken in the U.N. Security Council,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The other countries need to understand that, on the one hand, it is impossible to support the elimination of Hamas while on the other hand calling for a halt to the war, which will prevent the elimination of Hamas,” he said.
The Biden administration also approved the sale of 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel for about $106.5 million, the Pentagon said Saturday.
“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives,” a statement issued by the State Department said.
The ammunition will come from U.S. inventory and consist of 120mm M830A1 High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose with Tracer (MPAT) tank rounds and related equipment.