Cyprus Mail

US would object to ‘buffer zone’ inside Gaza strip -State Dept

camp sheltering displaced palestinians who fled their houses due to israeli strikes, in rafah
A child eats outside a tent, as displaced Palestinians, who fled their houses due to Israeli strike, shelter in a camp in Rafah, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in the southern Gaza Strip, December 6, 2023. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

The U.S. would object to any proposed buffer zone inside the Gaza Strip as it would violate Washington’s position that the size of the Palestinian enclave must not be reduced after the current conflict, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said on Wednesday.

Reuters reported last week that Israel had informed several Arab states that it wants to carve out a buffer zone on the Palestinian side of Gaza’s border to prevent future attacks as part of proposals for the enclave after the war ends.

Speaking at a daily press briefing Miller said among Washington’s guiding principles for the future of Gaza, was its opposition to any reduction in the densely populated enclave’s territory.

“So if any proposed buffer zone was inside Gaza, that would be a violation of that principle and something we oppose. If it’s with respect to something within Israeli territory I won’t speak to that- that’s a decision for the Israelis to make,” Miller told reporters.

There would have to be a transition period after the end of major combat operations, Miller said, to avoid a “security vacuum” but it would have to be temporary, although he was not able to describe the parameters of what such a period would look like.

The conflict broke out on Oct. 7 when Hamas militants crossed into southern Israel and killed 1,200 people, mostly civilians, in a rampage against kibbutzim and other communities. More than 200 hostages were taken back into Gaza.

Israel, vowing to wipe out Hamas once and for all, responded with a bombing campaign and ground offensive which has destroyed large areas of Gaza and killed, according to the enclave’s health ministry, more than 15,000 people.

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