Biden warns that occupying Gaza would be a ‘big mistake’, will visit Israel on Wednesday

The US president made it clear that while he believes Hamas should be completely eliminated, “there needs to be a Palestinian authority” and there needs to be a path to a Palestinian state. “The president will also travel to Jordan where he will meet King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

US President Joe Biden said Israel must “eliminate” Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, but warned that a possible occupation of the enclave “would be a grave mistake”. At the same time, he accepted the invitation to visit Israel.

“Look, regarding what happened in Gaza, in my opinion, Hamas and the extremist elements of Hamas do not represent the entire Palestinian people. I think it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again. But entering to eliminate the extremists, Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, is a necessary condition,” he said, referring to the ground incursion into the Gaza Strip that Israel is preparing.

Biden made it clear that while he believes Hamas should be completely eliminated, “there has to be a Palestinian authority” and there has to be a path to a Palestinian state,” according to statements made in an interview with the channel. of CBS television.

Thus, he insisted that “this path, called the ‘two-state solution,’ has been American policy for decades,” although he acknowledged that Israel does not agree with this option. NOW “. “I think Israel understands that a significant part of the Palestinian people do not share the views of Hamas and Hezbollah,” he stressed.

US President Joe Biden holds a bilateral meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the sidelines of the 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States, September 20, 2023. Photo: Reuters

However, during the interview, he did not advocate a ceasefire, even though the conflict has so far claimed the lives of more than 2,808 Gazans and 1,300 Israelis. In the West Bank, 58 people died after clashes with Israeli forces, including 15 children, the United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Agency said.

In this sense, the president assured that “Israel must react” and must “pursue Hamas”, which he considers “a group of cowards” who hide behind civilians. Thus, he accused the Palestinian movement of being guilty of the deaths of civilians in Israeli bombings.

“They set up their headquarters where the civilians and their civilian buildings are, but to the extent that they can separate themselves to avoid it, I am sure that the Israelis will do everything in their power to avoid the massacre of civilians,” he said before adding. that he has “confidence that Israel will act in accordance with the laws of war.”

In addition to the above, the President accepted an extraordinary invitation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to visit Israel and is expected to visit Israel on Wednesday. White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby announced that Biden would also travel to Jordan to meet with King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

In the opinion of the New York Times, Biden’s trip “would be a risky gamble.” “It would demonstrate American solidarity with Israel, signaling to its rivals, such as Iran, Syria and Hezbollah, that it has American support at a time of growing anxiety over regional war. But it would also connect Biden and the United States to the bloodshed in Gaza,” he said.

Palestinians search for victims under the rubble of a house destroyed by Israeli attacks in Khan Younis, southern Gaza Strip, October 16, 2023. Photo: Reuters

Israel declared a “total siege” to deprive the impoverished enclave of energy, food and water. The result, with the closure of Gaza’s borders by Israel and Egypt, is a major humanitarian crisis with an overcrowded population with less and less food, water, medical supplies and fuel as the days pass.

Gaza’s interior ministry said water had not reached the enclave for 10 days, despite White House statements Sunday that Israel had agreed to restore water supplies to the southern part from the Gaza Strip.

Israel has ordered the evacuation of more than a million residents of northern Gaza for their safety. More than 400,000 people have flocked to UN shelters, which are under severe pressure and struggling to supply evacuees.

In this context, efforts led by the United States to allow the entry of humanitarian aid failed on Monday. Washington and regional powers are pressuring Israel to allow aid to Gaza and on Egypt to open the Rafah crossing between its territory and the south of the bombed enclave to passport holders from other countries.

The EU also announced plans to send two flights this week to provide “shelter, medicine and hygiene kits” to Gaza via Egypt. But the border remained blocked.

“So far, unfortunately, the Israeli government has not adopted a position allowing the opening of the border crossing on the Gaza side to allow the entry of aid or the exit of third country nationals,” said Sameh Choukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs, from Egypt, during a conference.

Egypt said it would allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, but insisted it would only allow dual citizens into its territory. In contrast, some foreign officials said Israel was willing to allow people to leave Gaza for Egypt, but was resisting the entry of humanitarian aid.

Israeli soldiers gather on and around a tank near the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, southern Israel, October 15, 2023. Photo: Reuters

Martin Griffiths, the UN humanitarian chief, told the Financial Times that the international body was calling for “safe corridors for aid to arrive and safe corridors for people to get to places where they can get help.”

“What Egypt is very, very clear about… is that it will not allow Palestinians from Gaza to enter Egypt because it fears a massive influx, for which it will then have to take responsibility, for an indefinite period,” he added.

According to London-based newspaper Middle East Eye, spokesman for Hamas’s Izzideen al-Qassam Brigades said they were ready to release all foreigners unconditionally. They claim to be holding between 200 and 250 hostages and that 22 of them died due to Israeli bombing.

On Monday, Hamas released its first video of a 21-year-old hostage named Mia Shem, the granddaughter of a Chilean man, who said her captors had operated on her injured arm but asked to be returned to her family “on as quickly as possible.” »

Regional conflict

Western leaders are also seeking to contain hostilities, fearing that the war between Israel and Hamas could spark a wider regional conflict.

In a sign of tensions, the Iranian Foreign Minister warned Monday afternoon that the Islamist militants he supports could resort to “preventive” attacks against Israel in “the coming hours”.

“The leaders of the resistance groups will not allow the Zionist regime to act as it wishes in Gaza,” Hossein Amirabdollahian said on state television. He said Hezbollah had “all options and all scenarios” on the table.

Biden had previously warned Tehran against escalating the war and deployed two aircraft carrier strike groups to the region to deter Iran and Hezbollah.

In Jerusalem, members of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament, took refuge when sirens warned of a rocket attack. Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, told the House he was seeking a “crushing victory” over Hamas, but warned that “victory will take time.”

Returning to the country after visiting Egypt and the Gulf states, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the shared international priority was to “prevent the spread of conflict, safeguard innocent lives and provide assistance to those in need in Gaza.”

In this sense, the Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, based in London, reported that delegations of military officers from Iraqi Shiite militias supported by Iran recently arrived in Syria and Lebanon, in order to gather information and to coordinate their activities with “local authorities”. » militias due to their possible participation in the conflict with Israel.

The report points out that the militias have received no clear directive from Iran to engage in war, but are preparing to implement such a directive should it arrive. If accurate, says the Memri think tank, “this hypothesis is consistent with statements made on October 7 by the leaders of many of these Iraqi militias, who expressed their unreserved support for Hamas.”

Source: Latercera

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