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Israel's success in Gaza 'very limited', says ex-US general, as Blinken visits region

Former senior US military commander casts doubt over Israeli outcomes in war, as rights group records 'shocking spike' in West Bank killings
A picture taken from a position in southern Israel overlooking the Gaza Strip on 5 February 2024 (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
A picture taken from a position in southern Israel overlooking the Gaza Strip, 5 February 2024 (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

A former commander of US Central Command, General Frank McKenzie, has described Israel's success to date in its military objectives in the besieged Gaza Strip as "very limited".

"They set themselves a goal of removing the political echelon and the military leadership echelon of Hamas when they went in. They have not been successful to date at doing either," he told CBS's Face the Nation on Sunday. 

"You have to have a theory for what it's going to look like when it's over," McKenzie said. "You need a vision of an end state when you begin a military campaign because everything you do then subtracts or adds to your ability to get to that point."

He stated that Israel taking full control of Gaza was "the least desirable of all outcomes," adding that Arab states would be needed to assist efforts in post-war Gaza.

The comments came as the Palestinian health ministry announced that 113 people had been killed in Gaza by Israeli attacks over the past 24 hours.

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That brought the Palestinian death toll in Gaza since war broke out on 7 October to at least 27,478, with almost 67,000 wounded over the same period. Around 7,000 are missing, who are believed to be dead and buried under rubble. 

Over 70 percent of victims are children and women, according to health officials.

On Monday, Israeli naval gunfire hit a food convoy waiting to move into northern Gaza, according to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (Unrwa). 

"Thankfully, no one was injured," said Thomas White, the director of Unrwa affairs in Gaza, in a post on X.

In occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli forces shot and killed a 14-year-old Palestinian boy at a military checkpoint near the entrance to al-Eizariya town.

The Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported that witnesses saw Israeli forces shoot the boy, Wadih Shadi Owaisat. He was later left to bleed to death, allegedly for attempting to carry out a stabbing attack.

'Shocking spike' in West Bank killings

Meanwhile, Amnesty International said on Monday that it recorded a "shocking spike" in unlawful Israeli killings of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank since October. 

In four cases investigated by the group that took place in October and November, Israeli forces used unlawful lethal force, killing a total of 20 Palestinians, including seven children.

“Under the cover of the relentless bombardment and atrocity crimes in Gaza, Israeli forces have unleashed unlawful lethal force against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, carrying out unlawful killings and displaying a chilling disregard for Palestinian lives," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International’s director of global research, advocacy and policy.

Earlier in the day, French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne called for an end to Israeli settler violence and a ceasefire in Gaza, during a visit on Monday to Jerusalem. 

The comments came following a meeting with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“It is of utmost importance to refrain from any action, decision or statement that might spark violence. Settler violence must stop in the Palestinian territories, which we condemn,” he added.

He also said that violent Israeli statements are becoming “more and more frequent” in Israel, and are being “shared by political leaders.”

“There can in no circumstance be any transfer of Palestinians, neither from Gaza nor from the West Bank,” he said.

Meanwhile, following a meeting with Sejourne, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said "time is running out" to reach a diplomatic solution in the south of Lebanon, as tensions flare between the two countries.

"Israel will act militarily to return the evacuated citizens" to its northern border area if no diplomatic solution is reached to end the violence, Katz told his visiting French counterpart.

Elsewhere, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday to kick off his fifth US tour since 7 October. 

He will also visit Egypt, Qatar and Israel this week, and is expected to discuss Egyptian and Qatari-mediated negotiations for a deal to release captives held in Gaza.

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