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Top US general warns of greater destabilization amid Israel-Palestinian violence

Top US general warns of greater destabilization amid Israel-Palestinian violence
© Greg Nash

The Pentagon’s top uniformed officer says he is concerned that fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants may destabilize the region if it is not defused.  

“My assessment is that you risk broader destabilization and you risk a whole series of negative consequences if the fighting continues,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Army Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyOvernight Defense: House votes to repeal 2002 Iraq war powers | Pentagon leaders press senators to reimburse National Guard | New pressure on US-Iran nuclear talks Milley downplays report of 1,900 lost or stolen military firearms Top US general: Chinese military has 'ways to go' before it can take Taiwan MORE told reporters on Monday while traveling to Brussels for talks with NATO allies, according to Reuters.

The conflict, which is now in its second week, is “in no one's interest” and “deescalation is a smart course of action at this point for all parties concerned,” Milley said.

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Israel has been slamming Gaza with airstrikes while Hamas, the Iran-backed group that controls the Gaza Strip and that the U.S. has designated a terrorist organization, has sent thousand of rockets into Israel. The latest conflict was apparently spurred by Israeli police aggression at Al-Aqsa Mosque, one of the holiest sites in Islam, and plans to evict Palestinian families in east Jerusalem. 

Israeli airstrikes have leveled neighborhoods and killed at least 212 Palestinians, including 61 children, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza. 

Hamas’s rockets have largely been stopped by Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system but have killed at least 12 Israelis, including two children, officials say.

The United States — which is strongly allied with Israel — has attempted to stop the violence with behind-the-scenes diplomacy. President BidenJoe BidenObama: Ensuring democracy 'continues to work effectively' keeps me 'up at night' New Jersey landlords prohibited from asking potential tenants about criminal records Overnight Defense: Pentagon pulling some air defense assets from Middle East | Dems introduce resolution apologizing to LGBT community for discrimination | White House denies pausing military aid package to Ukraine MORE earlier said he supported a cease-fire in a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE, but the effort has so far failed. 

The fighting has gotten so severe the United Nations General Assembly said it will meet Thursday “in light of the gravity of the situation and its rapid deterioration.”

Milley on Monday spoke in broad terms in his warning, noting that “whatever military objectives” the two sides have, they “need to be balanced against other consequences.”