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Israel’s reputation facing damages in Gaza war, a statement department memo warns

This image grab taken from AFPTV video footage shows Palestinians checking the destruction in the aftermath of an Israeli strike on the Jabalia refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, on November 1, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. Thousands of civilians, both Palestinians and Israelis, have died since October 7, 2023, after Palestinian Hamas militants based in the Gaza Strip entered southern Israel in an unprecedented attack triggering a war declared by Israel on Hamas with retaliatory bombings on Gaza. (Photo by AFP)

The Biden administration is concerned Israel is making a “major strategic error” by denying “major, possibly generational damage” to Israel’s reputation worldwide over its war in Gaza, NPR (National Public Radio) quoted a State Department memo as saying. Assistant Secretary of State Bill Russo, overseeing global public affairs in the State Department, told Israeli foreign ministry officials in a call on March 13 that both the U.S. and Israel face a “major credibility problem” as a result of the “unpopular” Israeli military offensive in Gaza, according to a U.S. readout of the conversation. “The Israelis seemed oblivious to the fact that they are facing major, possibly generational damage to their reputation not just in the region but elsewhere in the world,” NPR quoted the memo as saying. “We are concerned that the Israelis are missing the forest for the trees and are making a major strategic error in writing off their reputation damage,” NPR added. According to NPR, the stark differences between the countries’ views reflect a widening rift between Israel and its biggest ally over Israel’s conduct in the war, as Palestinian civilians face continuous bombing, mass displacement and extreme hunger. The discord deepened Friday as Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv and urged Netanyahu not to launch an Israeli operation in the city of Rafah, NPR further added. “It risks killing more civilians, it risks wreaking greater havoc with the provision of humanitarian assistance, it risks further isolating Israel around the world and jeopardizing its long-term security and standing,” NPR quoted Blinken as saying. Netanyahu said Israel would carry out the Rafah operation — without U.S. support, if necessary. According to last week’s memo obtained by NPR, Israeli Foreign Ministry Deputy Director General Emmanuel Nahshon disagreed with the U.S. assessment that Israel’s global reputation was damaged. The Israeli government has solicited influencers to help target social media users in the U.S. and Europe to counter denial about atrocities committed in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack. Israel plans a similar social media campaign soon in Egypt, Jordan and Gulf Arab countries, the memo said. Israeli foreign ministry officials said the “silver lining” of the Oct. 7 attack is that it “now allows Israel to see who its real friends are,” according to the summary of the conversation in the State Department memo. In response to an NPR request, the Israeli foreign ministry said it had no comment on the U.S. memo. The State Department also declined to comment. But it is Israel’s continuing military response in Gaza — the deadliest war in Gaza’s history — that has sparked large protests against the war in Gaza in U.S. cities and Arab and European capitals. Israel’s air and ground offensive against Hamas in Gaza has killed more than 32,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza health officials, who do not distinguish between civilians and combatants. Three-quarters of Gaza’s population has been displaced, according to the U.N., and the world’s top experts in global hunger warn that Gaza faces imminent famine. Nisar Ahmad

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.