Joe Biden called for an immediate halt to Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians in the West Bank, as Israel continued its strikes on Gaza in preparation for a long-promised ground invasion.
Speaking during a joint press conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, the president said US support for Israel’s defense is tough, but criticized the treatment of Palestinians in the West Bank by some Israelis.
“I remain concerned about extremist settlers attacking Palestinians in the West Bank… Adding gasoline to the fire is what it is like.
“They attack Palestinians wherever they are [the Palestinians] “She has the right to be, and…it has to stop now.”
Biden accused Hamas of “hiding behind” Palestinian civilians in Gaza, but said Israel must abide by the “laws of war.”
Israel has been bombing Gaza since October 7, when Hamas militants streamed across the border, killing 1,400 people, most of them civilians, and kidnapping 222 others.
More than 6,500 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry, and there are fears the death toll could rise further if Israel goes ahead with a widely expected ground invasion.
But Biden questioned the civilian casualty figures provided by the Palestinians.
“I have no idea that the Palestinians are telling the truth about the death toll. “I am sure that innocent people were killed, and this is the price of waging war.”
But I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians use.”
As tens of thousands of troops mobilized on the Gaza border, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel was “raining hellfire,” and that a ground attack was being prepared.
He added: “I cannot say when, how or how much, nor all the elements we take into account, most of which the public does not know.”
American media reported that Biden is pressuring Netanyahu to postpone the ground invasion while Hamas is still holding hostages, but Biden on Wednesday denied such reports.
“What I’ve indicated is that if these people can be safely removed, then that’s what he should do. It’s their decision…. But I didn’t demand that,” Biden said.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization called on Hamas to provide proof of the lives of the hostages it holds and to release them all for health reasons.
“Many hostages, including children, women and the elderly, suffer from pre-existing health conditions that require urgent and ongoing care and treatment. The mental health trauma faced by abductees and their families is severe, and psychosocial support is important,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement. big.
The main UN agency working in the Strip warned this week that its relief efforts in Gaza would be forced to halt unless fuel supplies reached the besieged area.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) said hospitals, bakeries and water pumps may also stop working, exacerbating a humanitarian crisis that is worsening by the hour. “We need to find a solution to the fuel issue – otherwise our aid operations will stop.”
But later on Wednesday, world powers at the United Nations failed to secure plans to deliver vital humanitarian aid to Gaza. Russia and China vetoed a US resolution calling for a “humanitarian truce” to allow aid into the besieged Gaza Strip, without calling for a complete ceasefire.
The Russian proposal, which seeks an “immediate, permanent, humanitarian and fully respected ceasefire”, was voted down by the US and the UK, with nine other countries, including France and Japan, abstaining.
With the Security Council deadlocked, the UN General Assembly is scheduled to discuss the war on Thursday and Friday.
In his remarks on Wednesday, Biden stressed that all parties need to think about how to move forward in the region once the Gaza crisis is resolved.
“Israelis and Palestinians deserve to live side by side in security, dignity and peace,” Biden said.
“When this crisis is over, there must be a vision for what comes next. And from our perspective, it must be a two-state solution,” Biden said. “It means focused efforts from all parties — Israelis, Palestinians, regional partners, and global leaders — to put us on the path.” Towards peace.”
Reuters and the Associated Press contributed to this report
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