As a barrage of Israeli airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip continued late Wednesday, US President Joe Biden said: “Israel has the right to defend itself when thousands of rockets fly in your territory.”
Speaking to reporters on Wednesday night, Biden said his “hope is that we’ll see this come to an end as soon as possible,” however.
At least 65 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes in coastal Palestinian territory since Monday, after Hamas fired rockets at Israel in response to continued Israeli crackdown on Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.
The United States, a major proponent of Israel providing the country with $ 3.8 billion in military aid a year, has been called upon to “curb the IsraelisAs violence escalates in the occupied Palestinian territories and within Israel itself.
Earlier Wednesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed “strong US support for Israel’s right to defend itself” in an appeal with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The secretary expressed his concerns about the barrage of rocket attacks against Israel, his condolences for the lives lost as a result, and the United States’ strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself,” the department said. ‘State in a press release on the Blinken. -Call Netanyahu.
Blinken “reiterated its call for all parties to defuse tensions and end the violence,” the statement said.
The State Department also announced that Deputy Under Secretary of State Hady Amr was sent to Israel to urge Israeli and Palestinian officials to defuse the conflict and end the violence.
Amr, currently the top official in the State Department for Israeli and Palestinian Affairs, is a Lebanese-American who held U.S. diplomatic posts for the Middle East from 2010 to 2017.
Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman has also contacted officials in the Middle East in an attempt to appease the conflict, Blinken said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“We have engaged with all parties, including the Palestinians, and this will continue,” Blinken said. “The most important thing now is that all parties stop the violence, de-escalate and try to calm down.”
Dozens of Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, the local health ministry said, while more than 300 Palestinians were injured. Six people in Israel, including a child, were killed. The IDF said about 1,500 rockets were fired from Gaza at various locations in Israel.
Netanyahu said Tuesday evening that the leaders of Gaza, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group “would pay a very high price for their belligerence” and said Israel was “up to a heavy campaign.” Hamas has vowed to respond if Israel continues its airstrikes.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said there had been more than 25 high-level calls and meetings of senior Biden administration officials with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority. , Qatar, Egypt and Jordan since the weekend.
“We are in regular dialogue several times a day … with Egyptian and Qatari officials … who have significant influence over Hamas, and our goal here is de-escalation,” Psaki said.
Mike Hanna of Al Jazeera, of Washington, DC, said the Biden administration “conducts intense diplomacy” but is under pressure from Republican and Democratic lawmakers.
Republicans have argued that Biden is moving away from Washington’s strong ties with Israel, while some progressive Democrats have criticized him for avoiding imposing some sort of sanctions on Israel for his actions against the Palestinians, Hanna said.
Democratic Majority Leader Steny Hoyer released a statement on Wednesday to support Israel’s actions and condemn Hamas, but 25 Democrats also sent a letter to Blinken urging him to pressure Israel to stop forced evictions of Palestinians in occupied East Jerusalem.
The forced displacement of Palestinian families in #SheikhJarrah is a flagrant violation of human rights.
We must defend human rights everywhere. pic.twitter.com/ZIHtv5Sto6
– Congressman Marie Newman (@RepMarieNewman) May 12, 2021
Several Palestinian families are threatened with forced displacement from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, which Jewish settlement groups have been trying to take over for decades.
The United Nations last week urged Israel to quash forced evictions, warn that such action could constitute war crimes.
In their letter on Wednesday, U.S. Democratic lawmakers – including congressional women Marie Newman, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez – also said the move was against international law.
“We call on the State Department to exert diplomatic pressure to prevent these acts from happening,” they said.