Washington, MINA – United States (US) President Joe Biden acknowledged the widespread humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israel’s war on the besieged Gaza Strip in remarks Thursday, saying “it’s gotta stop.”
In what appears to be the president’s most stark criticism of Israel’s war to date, Biden said he believes that “the conduct of the response in the Gaza Strip has been over the top.”
“There are a lot of innocent people who are starving, a lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying, and it’s gotta stop,” he said in a nationally-televised address, Anadolu Agency reports.
The president said he has been engaged in heated diplomacy with the Egyptian, Qatari and Saudi governments to “get as much aid as we possibly can into Gaza.
Negotiations aimed at brokering an agreement to secure their release in exchange for an extended halt to the bloodshed in Gaza remain ongoing.
The number of confirmed dead in Gaza is rapidly approaching 30,000, the vast majority of whom have been women and children. Thousands more are feared dead amid widespread devastation in the coastal enclave caused by Israeli bombardment and demolition.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is in the region to push for a deal, said Wednesday that Hamas’s response to a proposed deal framework creates “space for an agreement to be reached” but also includes what he called “clear non-starters.”
Biden said he has been “working tirelessly” to reach an agreement on a “sustained pause in the fighting in the actions taking place in the Gaza Strip.”
“I think if we can get the initial delay, I think that we would be able to extend that so that we can increase the prospect that this fighting in Gaza changes,” he said in the Diplomatic Room.
The Israeli offensive has left 85% of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.
Well over 1 million displaced people have sought shelter in Rafah along the border with Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his forces would soon move on to the area.
That plan, the Biden administration said earlier Wednesday, “would be a disaster” for Palestinians.
“There’s a lot of displaced people there, and the Israeli military has a special obligation as they conduct operations there or anywhere else, to make sure that they’re factoring in protection for innocent civilian life, particularly civilians that were pushed into southern Gaza by operations further north,” said National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.
“Absent any full consideration of protecting civilians at that scale in Gaza, military operations right now would be a disaster for those people, and it’s not something that we would support,” added Kirby. (T/RE1/P2)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)