10/01/2009 US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it is “hard” for Israeli occupation forces to spare civilian lives in the densely-populated Gaza Strip.
 
“It is very difficult in circumstances like Gaza, which is a very densely populated area,” Rice told reporters on Friday when asked if Israel is living up to its humanitarian obligations during its massive military offensive on Gaza.
 
During its now two-week military campaign, at least 804 Palestinians have been martyred and thousands others have been injured.
 
“It’s also an area in which Hamas participates in activities like human shields and using buildings that are not designated as military buildings to hide their fighters,” she told reporters at the State Department. “So it’s hard.”
 
At the White House, spokesman Scott Stanzel said the administration is “very concerned about the humanitarian situation in Gaza” but echoed Rice’s comments on the “difficulties” Israel faces. “We want to see that situation improve,” he said. “However, it is a difficult situation. It is a conflict area. And this situation will not improve until Hamas stops lobbing rockets into Israel.”
 
Rice and State Department spokesman Sean McCormack sought to explain the seeming incongruity between US support for the Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire and its decision not to vote on it.
 
Rice, who spent three days in New York conducting frantic diplomacy on what eventually became the resolution, said the vote was “premature” because details of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s cease-fire initiative that the document endorses have not yet been worked out. At the same time, the US did not want to use its veto to kill the resolution, she said.
 
“The US abstention was principally because we believed that it would have been useful to have a little bit more time for the Mubarak initiative to mature,” she said. “It was simply believed that this might have been a little premature.”
 
Meanwhile, McCormack faced a barrage of questions from reporters about the apparent inconsistency of the abstention in the face of his declarations: “We support the text of this resolution. We support the goals of this resolution. We support the objectives of this resolution.”
 
“Our hope, again, in a perfect world, was that that resolution would have been referring to more specific actions that had to have been agreed upon as part of the Mubarak initiative,” McCormack said. “That wasn’t the case.”

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