CIA Director Arrives In Israel Amid Raging Conflict: Report

US officials have been visiting Israel at a regular cadence since war broke out.

Tel Aviv:

CIA Director William J Burns, arrived in Israel on Sunday to hold discussions with leaders and intelligence officials, the first stop in a multi-country trip in the region, New York Times reported citing US officials.

The visit comes as the US is trying to prod Israel to pursue a more targeted approach to attacking Hamas, allow pauses in the fighting for aid to enter Gaza and do more to avoid civilian casualties, according to NYT.

Washington is also looking to expand its intelligence sharing with Tel Aviv, providing information that could be useful about hostage locations or any follow-on attacks by Hamas.

A US official briefed on Burns’ trip said that he planned to reinforce the American commitment to intelligence cooperation with partners in the region.

Burns will travel to several Middle Eastern countries for discussions about the situation in Gaza, ongoing hostage negotiations and the importance of deterring the war with Hamas from widening to a broader context, NYT reported citing the US official.

US officials have been visiting Israel at a regular cadence since war broke out after Hamas fighters attacked Israeli towns on October 7 and killed more than 1,400 people.

Israel has retaliated with a massive counteroffensive including air campaign and ground invasion into Gaza, where Hamas is in control.

More than 9,000 Palestinians have been killed in airstrikes since Israel began retaliating, according to Gaza’s health ministry. US officials said their estimates of the number of Palestinians killed was similar, New York Times reported.

However, a spokeswoman for the CIA said the agency does not comment on the director’s travel, New York Times reported.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived on Friday to make the case to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and key national security officials that there are “more effective ways” to cripple Hamas than the intense air campaign.

Burns, who has extensive experience in the region, visited as key intelligence leaders in Israel have been heavily criticized for failing to detect the attack and the threat from Hamas more broadly.

Being one of the Biden administration’s “most trusted voices” on Middle East issues, Burns has become something of a “roving troubleshooting diplomat” for the White House, New York Times reported.

Meanwhile, the visits by American officials, particularly President Biden, have made an impact on Israelis, many of whom have been frustrated with Netanyahu’s handling of the crisis.

Still, tensions remain between Israeli officials and their US counterparts, as Washington pushes Israel to embrace a military campaign that takes more care to minimize civilian casualties.

American officials say they are not telling Israelis what to do, but they are advising them about their own experiences with the Iraq war and drilling into Mr. Netanyahu’s government the importance of not imitating America’s missteps after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, the New York Times reported.

On the other hand, Burns’s visit to Arab countries may be as important as his meetings in Israel.

His exact itinerary is unclear, but he is expected to visit Jordan. King Abdullah II cancelled a meeting with Biden after a blast at a Gaza hospital led to high casualties.

While the US and Israel have blamed Hamas for the explosion, the terror group has accused Israel of being responsible. Much of Jordan’s population is ethnically Palestinian, putting the country — a close US ally that has a peace treaty with Israel — in an especially tricky position as it navigates the fallout from the war, according to the New York Times.

Notably, Burns has a particularly close relationship with King Abdullah. He was the ambassador to Jordan when King Hussein died and Abdullah ascended to the throne. King Abdullah recently wrote a letter praising Burns’s diplomatic skills for a ceremony honouring the CIA. director.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)



By Admin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *