US President Joe Biden has had candid discussions with Israeli leaders as they conduct military strikes in Gaza, which have taken over 3,000 lives. Biden expressed his bluntness with the Israelis, stating that while Israel has been victimized, they have an opportunity to relieve the suffering of innocent civilians in Gaza. Egypt has agreed to open its Rafah border with Gaza to allow 20 trucks of aid to be received and managed by the U.N. Groups. Biden warned that if Hamas blocked or confiscated the aid, it would end.
The trucks are expected to cross on Friday after repairing roads near the crossing. Biden denied media reports that U.S. troops would join Israeli soldiers in fighting Hezbollah if the Lebanon-based militant group decides to help Hamas and initiate conflict with Israel. He discussed plans to invade Gaza with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the two countries’ militaries have been weighing alternatives. Biden will address the nation on Thursday night on the Israel-Hamas violence and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Biden backed Israel’s account of the massive explosion at a Gaza hospital that killed hundreds and sparked protests in the region. He said the explosion was caused by an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza. Israel, blamed for the explosion, has denied responsibility and said an errant rocket fired by Palestinian militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad hit the hospital site. The National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said that the administration is currently assessing the situation and is working to corroborate whether it was a failed rocket launched by Islamic Jihad.
Biden’s visit to Israel was aimed at showing support for Israel after the October 7 Hamas attack. He announced $100 million in U.S. aid for Palestinians and vowed to provide Israel with what it needed to defend itself. He urged restraint in Israel’s retaliation and emphasized the rule of law in conflict. Biden also referred to the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the U.S., stating that while the country saw justice, it also made mistakes.
Biden emphasized the importance of deliberate decision-making and clarity in leadership, stating that the choices made are never clear or easy. He was originally scheduled to meet King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss a humanitarian response for Gazans. However, the summit and the Jordan leg of the trip were scrapped following the Gaza hospital blast.
Hamas militants blamed Israel for the explosion, calling it a crime of genocide. Palestinian authorities reported around 500 casualties. Israel Defense Forces spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, denied any structural damage or crater that would be consistent with an Israeli airstrike and accused Hamas of inflating the number of casualties. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu echoed Biden’s sentiments at a meeting of Israel’s war cabinet, stating that the world was outraged by the hospital strike but should focus on the terrorists. The explosion sparked protests in cities across the Middle East, including Lebanon, Iran, Tunisia, and Turkey, where demonstrators blamed Israel.
Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour has stated that a summit with Jordanian brothers is not possible due to the current conditions. The White House has postponed President Biden’s travel to Jordan and the planned meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan and President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has called for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire to allow Hamas to release its hostages and for Israel to allow unrestricted humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.
European Council President Charles Michel criticized Israel’s actions in cutting access to basic services, such as water, food, and electricity, as not in line with international law. Israel has ordered Palestinian civilians in the northern half of Gaza to head to the southern reaches of the territory, but Israeli forces continue to launch airstrikes into southern Gaza. The humanitarian crisis in Gaza has worsened, with limited electricity, diminishing food and water supplies, and hospitals struggling to treat wounded patients.