The former president said he “fully supported” Joe Biden’s call for support of America’s “long-standing ally” in dismantling Hamas, but cautioned against action that could “erode global support for Israel“ and “undermine long term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.”
It comes after more than 5,100 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s bombardments and airstrikes, in retaliation for attacks carried out by Hamas, which left over 1,500 Israelis dead.
Echoing words by his former vice president, Mr Obama recalled the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks in New York, and how the US had not “heeded the advice of even our allies”.
“The world is watching closely as events in the region unfold, and any Israeli military strategy that ignores the human costs could ultimately backfire,” he wrote in an online blog.
“Already, thousands of Palestinians have been killed in the bombing of Gaza, many of them children. Hundreds of thousands have been forced from their homes.
“The Israeli government’s decision to cut off food, water and electricity to a captive civilian population threatens not only to worsen a growing humanitarian crisis; it could further harden Palestinian attitudes for generations, erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, and undermine long term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region.”
Mr Obama added that Israel’s recent decision to allow relief trucks into Gaza was “an encouraging step” but that further steps needed to be taken to minimise civilian casualties, while “incapacitating Hamas”.
On Monday, Hamas announced the release of two elderly Israeli hostages, 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz and 79-year-old Nurit Cooper. It follows the release of two US-Israeli dual citizens last week.
The former president also urged those on both sides to be understanding of each other, rejecting “anstisemitism… anti-Muslim, anti-Arab or anti-Palestinian sentiment.”
“We should choose not to always assume the worst in those with whom we disagree,” he wrote.
“In an age of constant rancor, trolling and misinformation on social media, at a time when so many politicians and attention seekers see an advantage in shedding heat rather than light, it may be unrealistic to expect respectful dialogue on any issue — much less on an issue with such high stakes and after so much blood has been spilled.
“But if we care about keeping open the possibility of peace, security and dignity for future generations of Israeli and Palestinian children — as well as for our own children — then it falls upon all of us to at least make the effort to model, in our own words and actions, the kind of world we want them to inherit.”
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies