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  4. Biden makes another gaffe, confuses Gaza with Ukraine twice while announcing aid airdrops | WATCH

Biden makes another gaffe, confuses Gaza with Ukraine twice while announcing aid airdrops | WATCH

Biden's mental health and old age have been under scrutiny lately after a special counsel report that he improperly stored classified documents as a result of mental decline. The 81-year-old US President has confused the names of countries and world leaders several times.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Washington Published on: March 02, 2024 10:01 IST
US, Joe Biden, Israel Hamas war
Image Source : REUTERS US President Joe Biden while announcing airdrops into Gaza.

Washington: In his latest in a series of embarrassing gaffes, US President Joe Biden on Friday confused Gaza with Ukraine twice as he announced military aid airdrops in the besieged Palestinian enclave. Biden, whose mental health and old age have been under scrutiny lately, has sparked concerns that he is not fit to run for another term as the presidential elections approach.

While announcing plans to carry out a first military airdrop of desperately needed food and supplies in Gaza, Biden said, "We need to do more and the United States will do more. In the coming days we're going to join with our friends in Jordan and others in providing airdrops of additional food and supplies into Ukraine (Gaza) and seek to continue to open up other avenues into Ukraine, including the possibility of a marine corridor to deliver large amounts of humanitarian assistance."

His announcement comes a day after reports of Israeli firing on Palestinians waiting for aid threw the ongoing humanitarian catastrophe in the crowded enclave into sharp light. Other countries, including France and Jordan, have already carried out airdrops in Gaza. Speaking alongside Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, Biden also urged Israel to facilitate more trucks and more routes to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza, adding that the "aid flowing to Gaza is nowhere nearly enough now". 

"Innocent lives are on the line and children's lives are on the line. We won't stand by and let too late until we get more aid in there. We should be getting hundreds of trucks in, not just several. And I won't stand by, we won't let up, and we're not going to pull out... pull out every stop we can to get more assistance in," he added. Officials said the airdrops could begin as early as this weekend.

Gaza tragedy stuns international community

Biden's announcement came after Gaza health authorities alleged that Israeli forces on Thursday shot dead more than 100 Palestinians as they waited for an aid delivery. At least 112 people were killed and more than 750 wounded in the incident near Gaza City, but Israel said the victims had been trampled or run over.

This is the biggest loss of lives in weeks, and Hamas said the incident could jeopardise talks in Qatar aimed at securing a ceasefire and the release of Israeli hostages. US President Joe Biden also indicated the same, saying, "I know it will" when asked if he thought it would complicate ongoing talks. However, Israel blamed most of the deaths on crowds that swarmed around aid trucks, saying victims had been trampled or run over. 

India on Friday expressed 'deep shock' over the loss of lives in northern Gaza during the delivery of humanitarian assistance, saying such loss of civilian lives and the humanitarian situation continue to be a cause of extreme concern. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was an "ugly massacre" by Israel, and French foreign ministry spokesperson Christophe Lemoine said Israel was responsible under international law for protecting aid distribution to civilians.

Concerns about Biden's health and age

Biden is the oldest president in the history of the United States. The president's health was in the news earlier this month after a special counsel investigating Biden for improperly storing classified documents suggested he was suffering from mental decline due to his age. The 345-page report described him as "a sympathetic, well-meaning, elderly man with a poor memory". "My memory is fine," Biden said while reacting sharply to the report last month.

Many have argued that Biden, who will be 82 weeks after this year's presidential elections, is unable to perform the duties of his job and is not fit to run for another term. Some politicians have even called on Vice President Kamala Harris to invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Biden from office. The 81-year-old president has raised concerns after a series of verbal mixups, at times confusing the names of world leaders during his tenure at the White House. A majority of Americans in most polls believe the president is too old to run for re-election. 

Recently, Biden made headlines after a video of him almost tripping twice while boarding Air Force One went viral, despite walking up to shorter, less challenging steps to board the aircraft. Prior to that, Biden was seen struggling to remember the name of the Palestine-based militant group Hamas, when asked about the ongoing war in Gaza, going so far as to call it "opposition" during a stumbling speech. Prior to that, Biden stunned the world when he claimed he met a French president who had died around three decades ago.

However, he turned the tables on his Republican rival Donald Trump when asked about the claims that he is too old to run for a second term, saying that "he's about as old as I am".  

(with inputs from agencies)

ALSO READ | Biden approves US military airdropping food, supplies into Gaza

 

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