US President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the COVID-19 response and the vaccination in the East Room at the White House in Washington, DC on May 17, 2021.
Nicholas Kamm | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden in a Monday afternoon call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his support for a ceasefire as fighting between Israel and Hamas enters a second week.
“The President reiterated his firm support for Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks. The President welcomed efforts to address intercommunal violence and to bring calm to Jerusalem,” according to a White House readout of the call.
Biden also called on Israel to ensure the protection of innocent civilians amid the conflict.
The latest call between the two leaders comes on the heels of devastating Israeli airstrikes. On Sunday, Israel conducted a strike that leveled several homes in the Gaza Strip. The strike, the deadliest yet in the ongoing conflict, killed at least 42 people. Meanwhile, more than 3,000 rockets bombarded Israeli cities.
On Sunday, Netanyahu defended a punishing airstrike Saturday that collapsed a 12-story building housing international media, citing intelligence that Hamas was using a portion of the building to plan terror attacks.
A member of the Palestinian civil defence walks amidst the rubble of a building in Gaza city which housed the Intaj Bank linked to the Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip, on May 15, 2021.
Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty Images
Netanyahu said that the building’s occupants, which included the Associated Press, broadcaster Al-Jazeera and other media agencies, were given an hour’s notice to evacuate before the strike.
“Here’s the intelligence we had,” Netanyahu told CBS Sunday program “Face the Nation.”
″[It’s] an intelligence office for the Palestinian terrorist organization housed in that building that plots and organizes the terror attacks against Israeli civilians. So, it’s a perfectly legitimate target,” he explained.
During the call with Netanyahu Monday, Biden also discussed engaging with other partners and allies in the region in order to help de-escalate tensions.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters on Monday that officials across the administration are “working around the clock” to bring an end to the violence.
Blinken added that U.S. envoy Hady Amr, deputy assistant secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian affairs, was on the ground in the region.
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