Israel ‘Needs to Do More’ in Gaza Aid, Former Trump Defense Secretary Says: ‘Don’t Want to Create More Terrorists’ | Video

Israel is “fighting arguably the fight of their lives right now” against Hamas, but needs to do more to ensure humanitarian aid reaches millions of Palestinians, former Defense Secretary Mark Esper told CNN’s Jake Tapper on Wednesday. “Well, clearly you don’t want to kill—create more terrorists while you’re trying to kill terrorists,” Esper offered. “So that’s number one.”

Esper was responding to Tapper’s assertion that some might look at “what Israel is doing in Gaza” and say the country is no longer following its own rules of engagement in terms of protecting civilians. “For example,” Tapper said, “that they are willing to take more risk to kill—more risks to civilians to kill lower level Hamas operatives.”

“Number two is, you know, there are outside experts who say that ratio of civilians killed to militants killed has been lower than most other battles by other countries,” Esper added. “But look, clearly when you’re going into a situation like this, you need to be more discriminate. Be careful in terms of how you employ military force because you don’t want unnecessary civilian casualties whether or not you create more terrorists or not.”

“It is incumbent upon the IDF to take those measures and to enforce them, even if it means greater risk for their own troops.”

The conversation took place amid reports that over one million people in Gaza are at imminent risk of death by starvation. Over 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict since Israel launched a ground invasion of Gaza in October.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed Senate Republicans on Wednesday in the wake of Majority Leader Chuck Shcumer’s assertion that Netanyahu is an “obstacle to peace” and called for new elections in the country. His request to speak to Senate Democrats was denied.

Also on Wednesday, Israeli diplomats in London preemptively disputed two inquiries into the role UNRWA, the United Nations’ organization for Palestinians in Israel, has played in the newest conflict. The inquiries were filed on Wednesday. Israel has claimed up to 17% of UNRWA’s staff in Palestine were members of Hamas. Those numbers have not been independently verified.

Watch the exchange between Esper and Tapper in the video.

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