President Biden makes wartime visit to Israel - Catholic Courier
U.S. President Joe Biden attends a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 18, 2023. U.S. President Joe Biden attends a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel, Oct. 18, 2023, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. (OSV News photo by Miriam Alster/Reuters)

President Biden makes wartime visit to Israel

WASHINGTON (OSV News) — President Joe Biden arrived in Israel Oct. 18 to demonstrate the United States’ support for its ally amid the conflict, and suggested “the other team” was responsible for a blast at a hospital in Gaza that killed hundreds, according to a claim from the Hamas-controlled health ministry.

In a joint appearance with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden said, “I wanted to be here today for a simple reason. I wanted the people of Israel, the people of the world to know where the United States stands.”

“Americans are grieving with you,” Biden said, adding the U.S. will “ensure that you have what you need to defend yourselves.”

Biden also said he was “deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday.”

A blast at the Anglican-run al-Ahli Arab Hospital killed hundreds, according to a claim from the Hamas-controlled health ministry, which also claimed an Israeli rocket was responsible for the strike.

But Netanyahu and the Israel Defense Forces, and later U.S. and United Kingdom intelligence officials, attributed the blast to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group. The blast took place on a day Christians around the world were called to fast and pray for peace in the Holy Land.

Biden told Netanyahu that “based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not — not you,” adding that “lifesaving capacity to help the Palestinians who are innocent, caught in the middle of this,” was a priority.

White House National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “While we continue to collect information, our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday.”

After Hamas attributed the blast to Israel, protests took place across the Middle East at Israeli or U.S. diplomatic missions, as well as other allies like the U.K., where leaders of some countries in the region, like Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, continued to blame Israel for the strike.

Netanyahu thanks Biden for support

Netanyahu thanked Biden for “the moral clarity that you have demonstrated from the moment Israel was attacked.”

“I want to thank you for coming here today and for the unequivocal support you have given Israel during these trying times, a support that reflects the overwhelming will of the American people,” Netanyahu said. “I’ve seen your support every day in the depth and breadth of cooperation that we have had since the beginning of this war, a level of cooperation that is truly unprecedented in the history of the great alliance between our two nations.”

Netanyahu said Biden rightly described the actions of Hamas as “sheer evil.”

“It is exactly that,” he 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.”

Thousands of Israelis killed by Hamas attacks

At least 1,400 Israelis were killed by Hamas, Netanyahu said, adding, “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 9/11s. That is why October 7th is another day that will live in infamy.”

Elsewhere during his visit, Biden stressed “you are not alone,” to Israelis, while also underlining that Palestinian civilians are not Hamas.

Biden told reporters Israel agreed to his request to allow humanitarian aid to move from Egypt to Gaza “based on understanding that there will be inspections, and aid should go to civilians, not to Hamas.” Israel sealed off the area after the attacks, which is under the control of Hamas, but some civilians lack access to resources like food or medicine.

Kate Scanlon is a national reporter for OSV News covering Washington. Follow her on X (formerly known as Twitter) @kgscanlon.

Tags: Israel-Hamas War
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