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'Hamas and Putin represent...': US President Biden calls for greater support for Israel, Ukraine

Biden equated the recent brutal attack by Hamas militants on Israel with the Russian invasion of Ukraine last year. He said that both incidents represent threats to democracy and asserted that American leadership "holds the world together".

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Tel Aviv (Israel) Published on: October 20, 2023 11:15 IST
US President Joe Biden speaking on Thursday.
Image Source : AP US President Joe Biden speaking on Thursday.

Drawing a parallel between the ongoing Israel-Hamas and Russia-Ukraine wars, US President Joe Biden on Thursday (local time) called for greater support to Israel and Ukraine, asserting that the American leadership "holds the world together".

In a veiled attack against Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden said, "Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy, completely annihilate it... We can’t let petty partisan, angry politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen."

The 80-year-old US President is currently in Israel to show solidarity with the Jewish country, after Hamas militants launched an unprecedented attack and killed more than 1,400 people. The conflict has now escalated into a full-fledged war with Israel preparing for an imminent ground invasion.

He also said that such conflicts, in Israel and Ukraine, are vital for the US national security and asked Congress for billions of dollars in military assistance for both countries. "History has taught us when terrorists don't pay a price for their terror, when dictators don't pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction...And the cost and the threat to America and the world keep rising," he added.

Biden is expected to ask Congress for $105 billion in aid on Friday, including $60 billion for Ukraine and $14 billion for Israel. Some of the funds are allocated for unspecified humanitarian efforts, the US-Mexico border as well as the Indo-Pacific region.

Challenges of bipartisan support

While acknowledging the rising death toll in Gaza due to heavy Israeli bombardment, Biden also issued a warning to Iran's leaders supporting Hamas and Russia, saying that the US "will continue to hold them accountable"

Biden's pledge for assistance is likely to face challenges with the House of Representatives in chaos since the ouster of former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over two weeks ago, Many conservative Republicans have also opposed sending weapons to Ukraine.

The bipartisan support for Israel is also expected to face some resistance as critics remain divided over the brutality of Hamas attacks on Israel and the 'indiscriminate' killing of civilians by Israel in Gaza and 'war crimes' by cutting off supplies to food, water and fuel.

This comes after the US Senate passed a resolution affirming support for Israel, with a final vote count of 97-0. The resolution condemned Iran's support to Hamas and said that the US "stands ready to assist Israel with emergency resupply or other security, diplomatic, and intelligence support needs".

What is happening in Gaza?

Meanwhile, things have reached a desperate point in Gaza due to relentless strikes by Israel. Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has ordered ground troops to prepare to see Gaza “from the inside”, signalling a possible ground assault. 

Gaza’s overwhelmed hospitals tried to stretch out diminishing medical supplies and fuel for generators, as authorities worked out logistics for a desperately needed aid delivery from Egypt. Biden on Wednesday announced $100 million for humanitarian assistance in Gaza and the West Bank. 

Hamas also claimed that an Israeli airstrike struck a hospital in Gaza, killing hundreds of civilians. However, Israel denied the claims, claiming that it was a result of a rocket misfire by a Palestinian militant group. Biden, in a joint presser with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu and accused "other team" responsible for the airstrike that killed at least 500 people and children. 

The Gaza Health Ministry said 3,785 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, the majority including women, children and older adults. Nearly 12,500 were injured, and another 1,300 people were believed buried under rubble, authorities said.

More than 1 million Palestinians, about half of Gaza’s population, have fled their homes in the north since Israel told them to evacuate, crowding into UN-run schools-turned-shelters or the homes of relatives.

(with agency inputs)

ALSO READ | Israel allows Egypt to deliver 'some aid' to Gaza after Biden's visit to Tel Aviv

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