Le Premier ministre israélien Benjamin Netanyahu (G) salue le président américain Joe Biden à son arrivée à l’aéroport Ben Gourion de Tel Aviv, le 18 octobre 2023, alors que les combats entre Israël et le groupe palestinien Hamas se poursuivent. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP)
(AFP) – US President Joe Biden on a solidarity visit to Israel Wednesday backed the ally’s account that Palestinian militants caused a devastating hospital strike in Gaza, adding Hamas had brought “only suffering.”
“I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday. And based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” Biden said as he opened a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.
“But there’s a lot of people out there not sure so we have to overcome a lot of things,” Biden said.
Health authorities in Hamas-ruled Gaza said the explosion killed between 200 and 300 people and was caused by the latest in a wave of Israeli air strikes.
The Israeli military blamed Palestinian militants, saying an outgoing Islamic Jihad rocket misfired and that it would provide evidence.
“We have to bear in mind that Hamas does not represent all the Palestinian people and has brought them only suffering,” Biden said.
He said he was encouraging Netanyahu to ensure “life-saving capacity to help the Palestinians who are innocent and caught in the middle of this”.
In announcing Biden’s visit, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Israel had agreed to work with the United States on a plan to let aid into Gaza, which has been besieged and bombarded for 12 days and under an Israeli blockade for 16 years.
Israel is threatening a ground invasion following the devastating October 7 assault by Hamas militants.
Biden said he was “proud” to visit Israel.
“I want to say to the people of Israel — their courage, their commitment and their bravery is stunning,” Biden said.
Netanyahu, who has faced domestic criticism after the deadliest attack in Israel’s history, had eagerly invited Biden, who until recently had openly criticised some moves by Israel’s hard-right government.
Netanyahu hailed Biden — who has faced accusations from the rival Republican Party that he is insufficiently pro-Israel — for paying “the first visit of an American president in Israel in a time of war”.
“There’s only one thing better than having a true friend like you standing with Israel and that is having you standing in Israel,” Netanyahu said.
Netanyahu, opening the talks with Biden, called for global unity against Hamas.
“Just as the civilised world united to defeat the Nazis and united to defeat ISIS, the civilised world must unite and defeat Hamas,” Netanyahu said.
“I can assure you, Mr. President, Israel is united to defeat Hamas and we will defeat Hamas and remove this terrible threat.”
© Agence France-Presse