US President Joe Biden encourages Israel to ensure protection of innocent civilians

Edited By: Gravitas desk WION
New Delhi, India Published: May 19, 2021, 10:06 PM(IST)

US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

By citing Israel’s right to defend itself against a rocket barrage from the Hamas-ruled enclave and only nudging Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu toward a ceasefire, Biden has effectively given Israeli forces more time to press their offensive against Palestinian militants there

President Joe Biden is largely sticking to a time-worn US playbook despite pressure from progressive Democrats for a tougher line toward Israel and from America’s allies for a more active role to end the violence.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said even after speaking with Biden in their fourth call in a week that he was "determined to continue" operations against Gaza's ruling Hamas militants.

Biden has faced increasing pressure, even from fellow Democrats, to take a more active and public role in brokering a ceasefire between Israel, the country's closest ally in the Middle East, and the militant group Hamas.

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"The two leaders had a detailed discussion on the state of events in Gaza, Israel's progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States," White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters in a brief statement aboard Air Force One.

During his phone call, Biden encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians.

By citing Israel’s right to defend itself against a rocket barrage from the Hamas-ruled enclave and only nudging Netanyahu toward a ceasefire, Biden has effectively given Israeli forces more time to press their offensive against Palestinian militants there.

Tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is something that has bedeviled US presidents for decades. Although the latest eruption of Gaza violence caught the new administration off guard, and it has responded so far in accordance with a familiar pattern.

Biden, a longtime supporter of Israel from his decades in the Senate and the vice presidency, began by backing Israel’s right to self-defence against the cross-border rocket attacks, something successive presidents have always said of Washington’s chief Middle Eastern ally.

While America provides millions of dollars of aid to Israel, the latter protects American interests in West Asia, shares intelligence on Islamic terrorism, and provides cutting-edge military technology. 

Pro-Israel lobbies donate large sums of money to American politicians and influence policy.

The United States has blocked any Security Council action on the Gaza issue, saying it would not help calm the crisis and would continue intensive diplomacy.

Gaza medical officials say 217 Palestinians have been killed, including 63 children, and more than 1,400 wounded since the fighting began on May 10. Israeli authorities say 12 people have been killed in Israel, including two children.

Hamas began firing rockets on May 10 in retaliation for what it said were Israeli rights abuses against Palestinians in Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The rocket attacks followed Israeli security police clashes with worshippers at al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and a court case by Israeli settlers to evict Palestinians from a neighbourhood in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

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