The US president vouched for Israeli innocence in the deadly strike, at meeting with nation’s leadership
US President Joe Biden has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he believed the nation’s assurances that it was not responsible for the strike on al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza City on Tuesday night.
“Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” he assured the Israeli leader on Wednesday on a visit to Israel.
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 from Gaza resulted in hundreds of deaths. The attackers also captured scores of hostages in the raid, whom they want to exchange for thousands of prisoners held in Israeli custody.
The Israeli government has vowed to obliterate the organization and has subjected Gaza to heavy bombardments since.
Biden arrived in Israel on Wednesday morning in a gesture of support. Later in the day he was expected to travel to Jordan to meet King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Amman canceled the summit after the hospital strike, which it is pinning on Israel.
Netanyahu is claiming that Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another militant group allied with Hamas, likely caused the destruction at al-Ahli. He said it launched a barrage of rockets on a course that came close to the hospital. The group denies this.
The visiting US leader focused on Hamas crimes 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 of hostages.
Biden also 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 of the blame on civilian Palestinians, 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 over Gaza, following Hamas' victory in the 2006 election to the Palestinian parliament and Fatah’s refusal to form a joint government.