By Steve Holland and Jeff Mason
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States is not trying to dictate limits for Israel, the White House said on Friday, as the Israelis expanded their military operation in Gaza against Hamas militants.
The fresh military onslaught by Israel comes as the United States scrambles to arrange a humanitarian pause for deliveries of fuel and relief aid to Gaza civilians. How the expanded ground operation will impact efforts toward a pause was unclear.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby, at a news briefing, would not comment on the Israeli expanded ground operation. But he said Washington supported Israel's right to defend itself after Hamas militants killed 1,400 people in southern Israel on Oct. 7.
"We're not drawing red lines for Israel," he said.
He said the United States continued to discuss with Israel about the aims of its operation, the need to protect civilians in Gaza, the effort to gain the safe return of Israeli hostages and the need to consider what comes after ground operations in Gaza.
"Since the very beginning, we have had and will continue to have conversations with them about the manner in which they're doing this. And we have not been shy about expressing our concerns over civilian casualties, collateral damage, and the approach that they might choose to take. That's what friends can do, and we're friends," he said.
(Reporting by Steve Holland an Jeff Mason; Writing by Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chris Reese and Cynthia Osterman)