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Israel-Hamas war: Biden speaks to Netanyahu, Palestinian President amid deepening unrest in Gaza

In both calls, Biden reiterated firm US support for Israel and emphasised the need to provide humanitarian assistance to the conflict-torn Gaza. He also discussed his administration's efforts to prevent the ongoing war from spreading to other countries in the Middle East.

Aveek Banerjee Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Washington Updated on: October 15, 2023 15:43 IST
US President Joe Biden
Image Source : AP US President Joe Biden

Amid war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, US President Joe Biden held separate phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday where he reiterated America's support for the Jewish country while also emphasising the importance of humanitarian aid for Gazans.

In his first call with Abbas, Biden condemned the brutal and unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israel last week and said that the militant group does not stand for the rights of Palestinians for dignity and self-determination, according to the White House.

"President Abbas briefed President Biden on his engagement in the region and his efforts to bring urgently needed humanitarian assistance to Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza. President Biden offered President Abbas and the Palestinian Authority his full support for these important and ongoing efforts," read the statement.

Furthermore, Biden also discussed US efforts to work with the United Nations, Egypt, Jordan and Israel to ensure that humanitarian supplies reach Gaza and also detailed efforts to coordinate with partners to prevent the conflict from widening with Abbas. Both leaders discussed the need to preserve stability in the West Bank and the Middle East.

The 87-year-old Abbas is the head of the Palestinian Authority that partially governs the landlocked West Bank region, occupied by Israel since 1967. Abbas led the Fatah movement that is the rival of Hamas, and was overthrown in Gaza by the latter.

The US President then called Netanyahu for the fifth time since Hamas attacks on Israel, where he again reiterated his support for Israel and updated the latter on US military support amid the crisis.

"As more information comes to light about Hamas’s brutal atrocities committed over the past week, President Biden reiterated the need for all countries to unequivocally condemn Hamas as a terrorist organization that does not represent the aspirations of the Palestinian people," the White House said.

The United States has intensified its global engagement amid an imminent Israeli plan to send its foot soldiers to Gaza. It will send a second carrier strike group in the Eastern Mediterranean to assist Israel in the war. The Dwight D Eisenhower carrier will join the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group to bolster the US presence there.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday called on Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to seek China's help in preventing the ongoing Israel-Hamas war from spreading to other countries and groups. China is known to have close trade and political ties with Iran, which backs Hamas and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group.

The US has also announced the deployment of fighter jets in the region, including F-35, F-15, F-16 and A-10 squadrons. "The increases to US force posture signal the United States' ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and our resolve to deter any state or non-state actor seeking to escalate this war," said Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin.

Israel set to launch assault on Gaza

As the war enters its eighth day, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said that it is completing preparations for a “significant ground operation” in the Gaza Strip, which will include a "joint and coordinated" offensive from air, land and sea, reported The Times of Israel.

"Hamas has shown the world time and time again what they are capable of. Now the IDF is prepared to counter with an even greater force. There is no place in the world for terrorism," the IDF said on X.

The week-long war has already claimed over 3,600 lives on both sides and sent tensions soaring across the region. The death toll from Israeli strikes on Gaza rose to 2,329 people have been killed in the territory, including 724 children and 458 women, the Palestinian health ministry said. On the other hand, over 1,300 people have died in Israel from the Hamas attack since last week.

Israel also gave an ultimatum for the 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to evacuate within 24 hours, which has sparked a divisive response by some including the European Union (EU), the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) owing to the dire health situation in Gaza. 

"The IDF is operating to eliminate Hamas in Gaza. Our war is not with the people of Gaza... We are calling on the residents of Gaza to evacuate southwards for their own safety. Not just because it's international law, because it's our values, our morals, and we demand no less," said Israel Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson Lt Col Richard Hecht.

Gaza’s 2.3 million civilians faced a deepening struggle for food, water and safety as of Sunday as Israel ordered a "complete siege" on the territory. Israeli forces have now stationed themselves alongside the border with Gaza ahead of a massive offensive that is likely to be far deadlier than the airstrikes. Israel has warned to "crush" Hamas but an impending ground assault has raised fears about the 120 hostages taken by Hamas.

(with agency inputs)

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