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Thursday, July 18, 2024

‘Don’t be blinded by rage’, Biden tells Israel

The US president has warned the Middle Eastern ally against targeting civilians in Gaza

US President Joe Biden has called on Israel to respect the rules of war and not slip into senseless “rage” in its conflict with Palestinian militants. He also urged everyone to denounce the anti-Semitism and Islamophobia ignited by the conflict.

“When I was in Israel yesterday, I said that when America experienced the hell of 9/11, we felt enraged as well,” Biden said in a televised address on Thursday night. “While we sought and got justice, we made mistakes. So, I cautioned the government of Israel not to be blinded by rage.”

Read more: Biden to request ‘urgent’ aid for Israel and Ukraine

He said he had warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against targeting Palestinian civilians in retaliatory airstrikes on Gaza.

“Netanyahu and I discussed again yesterday the critical need for Israel to operate by the laws of war. That means protecting civilians in combat as best as they can,” Biden said. He added that the population of Gaza must have access to food, medicine, and other humanitarian aid.

At the same time, Biden strongly condemned the Palestinian militant group Hamas for killing Israeli civilians and said he would ask Congress to approve additional security aid to Israel.

“We’re going to make sure the Iron Dome continues to guard the skies over Israel,” the president said, referring to Israel’s air-defense missile system intercepting rockets fired from Gaza. “We’re going to make sure all the hostile actors in the region know that Israel is stronger than ever [to] prevent this conflict from spreading.”

Read more: US will ‘forever’ stand with Israel – Biden

Israel launched airstrikes on the densely populated Palestinian enclave on October 7, after Hamas and allied groups invaded Israeli territory, killing civilians and soldiers alike and taking hostages. The UN has since described the situation in Gaza as “an unprecedented catastrophe,” asking for the aid to be allowed there as soon as possible.

Around 1,400 Israelis and 3,500 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting erupted this month, according to officials from both sides.