Amidst reports of an imminent ground invasion of Gaza by Israel, President Joe Biden has said that Israel can make its own decisions, as the US firmly backs its ally while urging caution.
The latest conflict was triggered by unprecedented attacks against Israel by Hamas militants on October 7, killing more than 1,400 people. Israel has launched a massive counter-offensive against the Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza since 2007.
Biden made the comment on Tuesday in response to a question while posing for a picture with the visiting Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
“Are you urging Israel to delay its ground invasion?” Biden was asked, to which he replied, “The Israelis can make their own decisions.” Last week, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant laid out the Jewish nation’s plan to change the “security regime” in Gaza– implying Hamas’ removal– and said the plan was designed in three stages.
Gallant said that the Israeli Defence Forces (IFD) was in the plan’s first stage when it was carrying out aerial strikes. It will be followed by ground incursion and finally, the change of security regime in Gaza, he said.
More than 5,000 Palestinians have been killed so far, including over 2,000 children and 1,100 women, as well as journalists, medical workers and first responders, with more than 16,000 injured, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
John Kirby, Coordinator for Strategic Communications at the National Security Council in the White House, told reporters that the US will continue to ensure that Israel has the tools and capabilities it needs to defend itself.
“We’re going to continue to try to get that humanitarian assistance in, and we’re going to continue to try to get hostages and people out of Gaza appropriately,” he said.
“A ceasefire right now really only benefits Hamas. That’s where we are right now. And I understand the question, but I’m just not going to get ahead of where things are,” he said.
“We have and will continue to talk to our Israeli counterparts about the importance of avoiding and minimizing civilian casualties and respecting innocent life and trying to prevent collateral damage as they go after legitimate Hamas targets,” he added.
“This is war, it is combat, it is bloody, it is ugly, and it’s going to be messy and innocent civilians are going to be hurt going forward. I wish I could tell you something different. I wish that wasn’t going to happen, but it is going to happen,” Kirby said in response to a question.
“That doesn’t make it right, it doesn’t make it dismissible, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to still express concerns about that and do everything we can to help the Israelis do everything they can to minimize it, but that’s unfortunately the nature of conflict,” he said.