President of the United States Joe Biden said on Wednesday that Israel has the right to self-defense, but that after speaking with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he hopes that violent clashes with Palestinians will come to an end soon.
“I had a conversation with Bibi Netanyahu not too long ago,” Biden told reporters. “My expectation and hope is that this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory.”
Mr. Biden said that US diplomacy was in high gear, with national security and defense officials “in constant touch with their counterparts in the Middle East — not only the Israelis, but everyone from the Egyptians and Saudis to the Emiratis.”
Hady Amr, the State Department official in charge of Israeli and Palestinian affairs, was scheduled to travel to the area on Wednesday to request “de-escalation of conflict,” according to Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
The top US diplomat met with Netanyahu as well, urging both sides to refrain from war.
According to a State Department statement, Blinken “reiterated his call on all parties to de-escalate tensions and put an end to the conflict.”
Gaza teeters on the brink as fighting with Israel escalates
Screams and flying debris enveloped Umm Majed al-Rayyes as explosions hurled her from her bed in Gaza City. Groping in the dark, the 50-year-old grabbed her four children and ran as Israeli bombs struck their apartment building Wednesday, shattering windows, ripping doors to splinters and blasting away concrete. While casualties mounted this week in the most severe outbreak of violence between Israel and the Gaza Strip since a 2014 war, al-Rayyes and other Palestinians in the line of fire faced an all-too-familiar question: Where should we go? This whole territory is a tiny place. It’s a prison.
Everywhere you go, you’re a target, al-Rayyes said by phone from a neighbor’s house, where she sought refuge with her teenage sons and daughters and a few bags of clothes after the Israeli airstrike that she says came without warning.
In the latest escalation in Israel-Hamas war in Gaza, Israeli airstrikes toppled the majority of a large high-rise building in central Gaza City on Wednesday, killing at least 48 Palestinians, including 14 children and three women. Over 300 people have been injured, with 86 children and 39 women among them.
The collapse of a Gaza building was broadcast on Israeli television, with commentators predicting a missile barrage from Gaza militants. According to AFP, Hamas has said it has fired 130 rockets at Israel in response to Israeli attacks.
Earlier in the day, Israeli military airstrikes in Gaza and Khan Younis claimed the lives of many top Hamas militant commanders. On Wednesday, the army issued a statement claiming that it had carried out a “intensive and first-of-its-kind operation.” Those targeted, it said, were “key members of the Hamas General Staff” who were close to the group’s military wing’s leader.
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