Biden blames Palestinians for Gaza hospital attack
US President Joe Biden has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he believes assurances given to him that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) was not responsible for the strike on Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza.
“Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” he told the Israeli leader on Wednesday.
Biden said he was “deeply saddened and outraged” by the incident, which has claimed over 500 lives, according to Palestinian officials.
Washington has pledged continued military assistance to Israel, after a deadly incursion into southern Israel earlier this month by the Palestinian militant group Hamas resulted in hundreds of deaths. The attackers also captured scores of hostages, whom they reportedly want to exchange for thousands of prisoners in Israeli custody.
The Israeli government has vowed to obliterate the organization and has subjected Gaza to heavy bombardments since the incursion by Hamas.
Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning in a gesture of support for the Jewish state. He had been expected to travel to Jordan to meet King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, however Amman canceled the summit after the hospital strike, which it pins on on Israel.
Netanyahu claimed that Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a militant group allied with Hamas, likely caused the destruction at Al-Ahli. He insisted that a barrage of rockets launched by the group came close to the hospital, a claim they deny deny.
The US leader focused on alleged crimes committed by Hamas during his meeting with Netanyahu.
“They have committed evils and atrocities that make ISIS look somewhat more rational,” he claimed, referring to Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the jihadist group infamous for its graphic on-camera executions.
Biden however stressed that Hamas “does not represent all of the Palestinian people and has brought them only suffering.”
Israeli President Isaac Herzog last week assigned some blame to Palestinian civilians, stating that “an entire nation out there … is responsible.”
“They could have risen up, they could have fought against that evil regime which took over Gaza,” he declared.
Israel supported Islamist Hamas as a counterweight to the secular Fatah from the 1970s up until early 1990s. The two factions fought a bloody conflict for control of Gaza, following Hamas' victory in the 2006 Palestinian parliamentary elections and Fatah’s refusal to form a joint government.