Biden expresses 'concern' over Gaza violence, while supporting Israel

Biden expresses 'grave concern' over Gaza violence, while supporting Israel
3 min read
US President Joe Biden has made two phone calls to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas, expressing “grave concern” over violence while reiterating US support for Israel.
Biden told Abbas that rocket fire from Gaza must stop [Getty]
US President Joe Biden expressed "grave concern" over the deadly violence between Israel and the Palestinians in a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, while reiterating US support for Israel as scores of Palestinians were killed in air strikes in Gaza.

In a separate phone call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Biden said that Hamas must stop firing rockets at Israel.

Speaking on the sixth day of a flare-up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that has left 174 Palestinians and eight people in Israel dead, Biden expressed his "strong support" for what he called Israel's "right to defend itself" against rocket attacks by "Hamas and other terrorist groups", in his phone conversation with Netanyahu.

"He condemned these indiscriminate attacks against towns and cities across Israel," the White House statement said.

Read more: 'Palestinian Lives Matter' - Bernie Sanders slams Biden's response to Israeli assault on Gaza

Biden also raised concerns about the safety of journalists after Israeli air strikes on Saturday flattened a building in Gaza housing The Associated Press, Al Jazeera and other international media outlets.

In a phone call with AP president and CEO Gary Pruitt, Secretary of State Antony Blinken offered "unwavering support for independent journalists and media organizations around the world," noting the "indispensability" of reporting in conflict zones, according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.

Biden, who up to now has said little publicly about Israel’s assault on Gaza, voiced US support for a negotiated two-state solution to the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He made the same point in a separate phone call with President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, the White House said, highlighting "strong commitment to a negotiated two-state solution as the best path to reach a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict".

The US leader, in his first call with Abbas since taking office, also "stressed the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel."

Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin also "reaffirmed Israel's right to defend itself," in a phone call with his Israeli counterpart Benny Gantz, according to a readout.

Austin "strongly condemned the continued onslaught of attacks by Hamas and other terrorists groups targeting Israeli civilians", it said, adding that the secretary had "shared his view on the need to restore calm."

Israeli airstrikes on Sunday killed 26 people, including eight children, in the single deadliest attack of the current conflict.

The flare-up in violence was caused by a series of Israeli provocations in Jerusalem. Last Monday, Hamas began firing rockets at Israel after hundreds of worshippers were injured in an assault by Israeli security forces on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third most holy site in Islam.

Israeli forces have also clashed with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank, killing 12 people.

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