United States President Joe Biden on Wednesday said that based on what he saw, it appears that the deadly explosion at the Gaza hospital was done by ‘the other team’ and not the Israeli military, accepting the Israeli version of the story pinning the blame for the blast on the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad.
Biden made the comments during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after landing in Tel Aviv on a solidarity visit to express support for Israel amid the ongoing conflict with Hamas-led Palestinian factions.
“I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday. Based on what I’ve seen, it appears it was done by the other team, and not you,” he told Netanyahu, publicly endorsing Israeli contention.
He added that there were ‘a lot of people out there’ who weren’t sure what caused the explosion at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in the centre of Gaza.
Hundreds of people were killed in the hospital blast for which Hamas and Israel traded charges holding each other responsible for the incident. Israel has blamed a misfired rocket from the Islamic Jihad, a claim rejected by the militant group.
The hospital explosion has derailed the diplomatic efforts led by the US to mobilise support for ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’ with a summit between President Biden and Arab leaders in Jordan’s Amman being called off.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi announced that Biden’s summit in Amman scheduled to take place on Wednesday with Jordan’s King Abdullah, Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sissi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has been cancelled.
During the meeting, President Biden told Netanyahu that he is ‘here for a simple reason — I want the people of Israel and the people of the world to know where the United States stands’.
Biden stressed that Hamas ‘slaughtered’ its victims, including 33 Americans.
“They have committed evils and atrocities that make ISIS look somewhat more rational,” he said, adding that ‘Hamas does not represent all the Palestinian people and has brought them only suffering’.
Extending unflinching support for Israel, the American leader said that Washington will make sure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself.
“The world is looking,” he said, asserting that ‘Israel has a values set like the US does and other democracies, and they’re looking to see what we’re going to do’.
He also lauded the courage and commitment of the Israelis calling it ‘stunning’.
Netanyahu thanked Biden for coming to Israel and for his unequivocal support, a ‘support that reflects the overwhelming will of the American people’.
He said that Hamas’ crimes included rape, burning, kidnapping, and targeting small children.
The death toll in the brutal attack could be above 1400, the Israeli premier said.
“Hamas murdered children in front of their parents, and parents in front of their children. They burned people alive. They raped and murdered women. They beheaded soldiers. They searched for the secret hiding places where parents hid their children. And just imagine, Mr President, the fear and panic of those little children as the monsters discovered, found out, their hiding places,” Netanyahu told Biden.
He said Hamas kidnapped women and children, elderly, Holocaust survivors.
“I know you share our outrage on this. And I know you share our determination to bring these people back….On October 7, Hamas murdered 1,400 Israelis, maybe more,” the premier said.
“This is in a country of fewer than 10 million people. This would be equivalent to over 50,000 Americans murdered in a single day. That’s 20 times 9/11s. That is why October 7 is another day that will live in infamy,” Netanyahu emphasised.
“Just as the civilised world united to defeat the Nazis, and united to defeat ISIS, the civilized world must unite to defeat Hamas,” Netanyahu pleaded, stressing that Israel is united and Israel will defeat Hamas.
“The forces of civilisation will prevail — for our sake, for your sake, for peace and security in our region and in the world,” he asserted.
The Israeli leader also expressed appreciation for America’s commitment to Israel’s security which he said was ‘truly unprecedented’.
Pointing to the fact that Biden is the first ever US president to visit Israel in a time of war, Netanyahu called it ‘deeply, deeply moving’.
‘It speaks to the depth of your personal commitment to Israel. It speaks to the depth of your personal commitment to the future of the Jewish people and the one and only Jewish state,’ he noted.
Since the start of hostilities on October 7, as many as 2,778 Palestinians have been killed.
The figure excludes the casualties in the hospital blast which has claimed at least 500 lives.
Late last week, Israel issued an ultimatum that the entire population of Gaza north of Wadi Gaza, approximately 1.1 million people, should relocate to southern Gaza within 24 hours.
The situation is rapidly deteriorating with each passing hour as Gaza runs out of food, water, fuel and essential supplies.
The UAE and Russia have called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Wednesday following the blast at the hospital.
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