Palestinian president rejects eviction from Gaza
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas categorically rejected the removal of Gaza’s inhabitants from their land in a phone call with US President Joe Biden on Saturday, his office confirmed in a statement.
Biden pledged to support efforts by the Palestinian Authority, which controls the West Bank, to bring much-needed humanitarian assistance to Hamas-controlled Gaza, according to a White House summary of the call.
The US president also claimed his administration has been working with the UN, Egypt, Jordan, and Israel “to ensure humanitarian supplies reach civilians in Gaza,” according to the summary, though Israel itself has pledged no electricity, water, or food will enter the territory until the hostages taken by Hamas last Saturday are returned.
Abbas also told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that he “rejects the forced displacement” of Palestinians from Gaza, warning the American diplomat during a meeting on Friday in Amman that going along with Israel’s evacuation order for north Gaza would amount to a “second Nakba” – a reference to Israel’s removal of 750,000 Palestinians from their land by force from 1947 to 1948.
Also on Saturday, Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, pledging further material support to the Israel Defense Forces and telling the PM that “unity and determination” were needed to achieve Israel’s combat goals. Netanyahu thanked his American counterpart, according to a statement from his office.
Washington has repeatedly pledged to back Israel’s massive retaliation for Hamas’ attack last weekend, which left at least 1,300 Israelis dead. The resulting Israeli bombing campaign – the heaviest in Gaza’s history – has killed upwards of 1,900 Palestinians and displaced over 430,000 inhabitants of the densely-populated territory.
Israel ordered the 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza to evacuate on Thursday. The order has come under fire from the UN and other international human rights observers, who argue it constitutes aggravated ethnic cleansing. Washington and many of its European allies, however, insist Israel’s actions are justifiable self-defense.