Former Nato Commander: Israel Can’t Do More To Avoid Civilian Casualties 

CNN Military Analyst and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Gen. Wesley Clark (Ret.) on Monday maintained that there is little Israel can do to avoid civilian casualties in its war with Hamas. 

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin previously suggested that Israel should prioritize avoiding civilian casualties over defeating Hamas. 

“So I have repeatedly made clear to Israel’s leaders that protecting Palestinian civilians in Gaza is both a moral responsibility and a strategic imperative,” Austin said. “And so I have personally pushed Israeli leaders to avoid civilian casualties, and to shun irresponsible rhetoric, and to prevent violence by settlers in the West Bank, and to dramatically expand access to humanitarian aid.”

Clark, in a Monday interview on “CNN News Central,” said Austin might be right on doctrinal ground, but Israel can’t do more than it is already doing to avoid civilian casualties.

“Secretary Austin is exactly right on doctrinal grounds,” Clark said. “The problem [with] Hamas and in Gaza is that the civilian population has been either hostile or indifferent or overtly hostile to Israel. So, the horse is out of the barn on this, honestly. It would be great if the civilian population would say, look, we’re against Hamas, we’ve had all this destruction, and really, it’s not Israel’s fault. But, unfortunately, this is a wartime situation. This is really no different than when the United States had to attack Japan in World War II, British and American bombers flying over Nazi Germany, a lot of innocent civilians who had nothing to do with the war effort were killed [as a] consequence of this. And, unfortunately, I don’t know that there’s that much more that the Israelis can do to avoid harming these civilian populaces in Gaza and still accomplish the military objective.”

Austin’s comment also drew a furious response from Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). Graham in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” said he has lost all faith in Austin.

“He’s so naive. I mean, I have just lost all confidence in this guy. How about focusing on protecting our soldiers, men and women, in Syria and Iraq? Strategic defeat would be inflaming the Palestinians? They’re already inflamed,” Graham said.