Solidarity? White House Vows ‘Tough Questions’ for Netanyahu; Wants ‘Zero’ Civilian Casualties

Iran Hamas White House Kirby
Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

John Kirby, the White House’s National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, told reporters aboard Air Force Once en route to Israel on Tuesday evening that President Joe Biden would have “tough questions” for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when they met Wednesday morning.

Biden’s trip was intended to show solidarity for Israel in its war against the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas, which attacked Israel without provocation on October 7 and murdered 1,200 people.

But after Palestinians — and their allies — blamed Israel for an explosion at a hospital in Gaza City that reportedly killed hundreds of people, Biden appeared to be taking a different stance, promising that U.S. officials would investigate. Notably, Kirby refused to say that the U.S. gave Israeli officials the benefit of the doubt when they categorically denied that Israel had anything to do with the explosion. (Israel blamed the explosion on a misfired rocket, aimed at Israeli civilians, fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.) Kirby also dodged questions about whether the White House believed Israel was living up to its promise to obey international law.

Later in the press briefing, Kirby explained that “tough questions” did not mean “menacing,” but that the U.S. would ask Israel about its next steps in the war. (Last week, Biden had said that Israel had not only a “right,” but also a “duty,” to fight Hamas.)

Kirby, a retired United States Navy rear admiral, also said: “The proper number of civilian casualties in a conflict like this is zero.” He did not explain how that statement squared with international law, which does not require “zero” civilian casualties in war. As Breitbart News has explained, some risk to civilians is legal, as long as it is “proportionate” to a legitimate military goal.

Hamas is guilty of war crimes in targeting civilians and doing so from civilian areas, placing both Israeli and Palestinian civilians in danger.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect a revised number on the death toll from the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel. The Israeli government estimate of 1,400 was revised to around 1,200, according to Reuters.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the new biography, Rhoda: ‘Comrade Kadalie, You Are Out of Order’. He is also the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.