- Biden said he hasn’t seen a “significant overreaction” in Israel’s Gaza offensive.
- Israel has been pummeling Gaza with airstrikes, leveling buildings and killing dozens.
- Biden has touted Israel’s right to self-defense amid rocket attacks from Hamas, which have killed seven.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
President Joe Biden on Thursday said he has not seen a “significant overreaction” of Israel’s offensive in Gaza, which has included devastating airstrikes that have leveled buildings and killed dozens.
“One of the things that I have seen thus far is that there has not been a significant overreaction,” Biden said during a press briefing, adding that the goal is to see a reduction in rockets flying in to Israel from Gaza.
As the region witnesses the worst violence seen since the 50-day war in 2014, the Israeli military has been pummeling Gaza with airstrikes – in some cases leveling apartment buildings – as Hamas and other militant groups fire hundreds of rockets toward Israel.
Israel has rebuffed any discussions of a ceasefire and vowed to continue the offensive.
At least 83 people in Gaza have been killed so far, including 17 children, per BBC News, while at least seven Israelis have been killed. The International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor has warned she’s monitoring the fighting for potential war crimes.
Israel on Thursday prepared ground troops along the border with Gaza, raising the possibility of an invasion. This came as riots and violence between Jews and Arabs filled the streets of several Israeli cities, moving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to warn against “lynching.”
After a phone call with Netanyahu, Biden on Wednesday defended Israel’s right to self-defense and condemned Hamas over the rocket attacks. The president did not express concern about Israeli military tactics or the rising death toll on the Palestinian side.
“Israel has the right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory,” Biden told reporters. “My hope is that we’ll see this coming to a conclusion sooner than later.”
He was subsequently criticized by Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, who said Biden’s remarks dehumanized Palestinians and lacked important context on what catalyzed the bloodshed.
Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and general treatment of Palestinians, which rights groups have increasingly decried as a form of apartheid, remain at the heart of the tensions fueling the violence. The historically contentious dynamic has been exacerbated more recently via planned evictions of Palestinians out of a neighborhood in East Jerusalem, as well as an Israeli police raid on Monday at an important Muslim holy site amid Ramadan.
With no permanent US ambassador in Israel, Biden was in many ways unprepared for the recent violence in the region. The State Department on Wednesday announced it was “immediately” sending an envoy to the region as part of an effort to deescalate tensions.
Powered by WPeMatico