U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during the Human Rights Campaign National Dinner at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 14, 2023.
Andrew Caballero-Reynolds | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden will travel to Israel on Tuesday evening to show solidarity with the country as it responds to the deadly Hamas attacks earlier this month that killed more than 1,400 people, including Americans.
After visiting Israel on Wednesday, the president will go on to Jordan for a summit on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Biden’s trip will “demonstrate his steadfast support for Israel in the face of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack and to consult on next steps,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
Israel suffered the deadliest attack against Jews since the Holocaust when the militant group Hamas launched surprise strikes on Oct. 7, seizing nearly 200 hostages and killing more than 1,400 people. Israel has responded with air bombardment of the Gaza Strip where Hamas fighters are reportedly sheltering. Israel’s strikes have killed about 3,000 people and forced more than a million Gazans to flee their homes.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Biden’s visit Monday after an hourslong meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had invited the president to make the trip. The visit will mark the second time Biden has traveled to an active war zone this year. He traveled to Ukraine in February amid its ongoing war against Russia.
Biden’s visit is to “reaffirm the United States’ solidarity with Israel and our ironclad commitment to its security,” Blinken said Monday.
“He is coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world,” Blinken said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks to members of the media before leaving Cairo, Egypt, on Oct. 15, 2023.
Jacquelyn Martin | Pool | via Reuters
Biden, according to Blinken, will also be briefed by Israeli officials on how they will retaliate “in a way that minimizes civilian casualties” and allows for humanitarian aid to be given to Gazan civilians. Israeli forces have massed at the Gaza border for a possible ground invasion.
Blinken has been traveling around the Middle East for the past week, visiting Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates while stopping twice each in Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.
Biden has been unequivocal about the U.S.’ support for Israelis, but in recent days has also called for mitigating harm to innocent Palestinians in Gaza. He will travel to Jordan after Israel and meet with King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, which only has limited authority in the West Bank, not Gaza.
“[Biden] will certainly reiterate that Hamas does not stand for the Palestinians’ right to dignity and self-determination,” said White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, who announced the second half of the trip. “He’ll discuss again the humanitarian needs of all civilians in Gaza.”
“We’ve been crystal clear about the need for humanitarian aid to be able to continue to flow into Gaza,” Kirby said. “That has been a consistent call by President Biden and certainly by this entire administration.”
Even with efforts to ensure Biden’s safety throughout his ground visit, trips to war zones carry extraordinary security risks. Blinken on Monday had to take shelter following air sirens warning of rocket attacks. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, had to shelter from rocket attacks when they visited Sunday.
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