The United States has not given Israel a firm deadline to end major combat operations against Hamas in Gaza, and if the war ended now, the group would continue to pose a threat, White House national security aide Jon Finer said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
"We have not given a firm deadline to Israel, not really our role. This is their conflict. That said, we do have influence, even if we don't have ultimate control over what happens on the ground in Gaza," Finer was quoted as having told the Aspen Security Forum in Washington.
Israel has two objectives in Gaza, Finer said, ensuring Hamas can no longer govern Gaza and it can no longer pose a threat to Israel following the deadly October 7 attack.
"Frankly, if the war were to stop today, (Hamas) it would continue to pose (a threat) which is why we are not in a place yet of asking Israel to stop or to force ceasefire," he stated.
The United States believes that there are many "legitimate military targets" that remain in southern Gaza including "much if not most" of the Hamas leadership, Finer said, citing Israeli information, though he added that Washington did not have anything to contradict that assessment.
There have been aspects of how Israel's military operations in northern Gaza was conducted that did not show "sufficient care" for civilian life, Finer said, and repeated US calls to ameliorate those aspects.
Israel announced last Friday the renewal of fighting in Gaza, after the Hamas terror organization violated the terms of the operational pause, which allowed for the release of some 100 hostages held by Hamas.
Earlier this week, US officials said they expect the current phase of Israel’s ground operation of Gaza, targeting the southern end of the Strip, to last several weeks.
The officials added that they believe Israel will transition, possibly by January, to a lower-intensity, hyper-localized strategy that narrowly targets specific Hamas terrorists and leaders.
US officials also said that Israel is showing more willingness to discuss plans for Gaza after the war.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed that Israel will have to maintain security control of Gaza after the war, in order to prevent terrorists from carrying out an attack similar to October 7.
He has also ruled out the Palestinian Authority (PA), headed by Fatah chairman Mahmoud Abbas, taking over Gaza after the war, noting that Abbas has in the past has denied the existence of the Holocaust and has failed to condemn the Hamas massacre.