Biden says Netanyahu is ‘hurting Israel’ by not preventing more civilian deaths in Gaza

(Manuel Balce Ceneta/Associated Press)

Biden says Netanyahu is ‘hurting Israel’ by not preventing more civilian deaths in Gaza



March 9, 2024

President Biden said Saturday that he believes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hurting Israel more than helping Israel with the way he is approaching his war against Hamas in Gaza.

The US leader expressed support for Israel’s right to prosecute Hamas after the October attacks. He said of Netanyahu that he should pay more attention to the innocent lives lost as a result of the actions taken. Biden has been warning for months that Israel risks losing international support due to rising civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip, and the latest comments in an interview with MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart highlighted the increasingly strained relationship between the two leaders.

Biden said of the death toll in Gaza: It goes against what Israel stands for. And I think it’s a big mistake.

Biden said a potential Israeli invasion of the Gaza city of Rafah, where more than 1.3 million Palestinians are sheltering, is a red line for him, but he would not cut off weapons like the Iron Dome missile interceptors that protect Israel’s civilian population from rocket attacks . attacks in the region.

It is a red line, he said, when asked about Rafah, but I will never leave Israel. Israel’s defense is still critical, so there is no red line. I’m going to cut off all the weapons so they won’t be protected by the Iron Dome.

Biden said he was prepared to present his case directly to Israel’s Knesset, the parliament, including by making another trip to the country. He traveled to Israel weeks after the attack in October. 7. attack. He declined to elaborate on how or if such a trip could take place.

The US leader had hoped to broker a temporary ceasefire before Ramadan begins, although that looks increasingly unlikely as Hamas has resisted a deal pushed by the US and its allies that would have halted fighting for about six weeks. the release of additional hostages held by Hamas and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, and a wave of humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Israel remains committed to continuing its invasion and destroying Hamas, which killed around 1,200 people and took around 250 hostages in October. 7. The militant group released dozens of hostages during a ceasefire in November but has refused to release any more without guarantees of a complete end to hostilities.

Meanwhile, according to the Hamas-led Ministry of Health, more than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, the majority of whom are women and children, and hundreds of thousands are suffering from hunger.

Biden noted that CIA Director William Burns is in the region to revive the deal.

The president’s comments came after he was captured on a hot mic following Thursday night’s State of the Union address, in which he told Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) that he and the Israeli leader should come to the Jesus meeting .

In the call, Bennet congratulated Biden on his speech and urged the president to continue pressuring Netanyahu over growing humanitarian concerns in Gaza. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg were also part of the brief conversation.

Biden then responds with Netanyahu’s nickname, saying: I told him, Bibi, and don’t repeat this, but you and I are going to come to the Jesus meeting.

An aide to the president standing nearby then speaks softly into the president’s ear and appears to warn Biden that the microphones remained on as he worked around the room.

I’m on a hot mic here, Biden says after being warned. Good. Fine.

Miller is a White House correspondent for the Associated Press.


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