During his televised speech, President Biden described the horrifying actions carried out by the Palestinian militant group, including the murder of entire families, sexual assaults on women, and distressing reports of infants losing their lives. His voice somber and determined, Biden emphasized, “There are moments in this life when pure unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world. This is an act of sheer evil.”
President Biden also confirmed that at least 14 Americans had lost their lives in the attacks, and some had been taken hostage by Hamas. The militant group had issued threats to harm these hostages unless Israel warned civilians about impending attacks on Gaza.
A staunch supporter of Israel for many years, President Biden reiterated the United States’ unwavering commitment to stand by Israel’s side. He declared, “We will support Israel today, tomorrow, as we always have.”
In a clear message to long-standing adversary Iran, which backs Hamas, Biden sternly warned Israel’s adversaries with a single word: “Don’t.”
Before delivering his remarks, President Biden held a prolonged conversation with Vice President Kamala Harris and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to discuss their support for Israel.
Taking to social media, Biden shared a picture of his meeting with Harris and top US military, intelligence, and diplomatic officials in the secure White House Situation Room. He wrote, “We connected with Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss coordination to support Israel, deter hostile actors, and protect innocent people.”
Key figures in the US government, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and CIA chief William Burns, were present during this meeting. Additionally, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and top military officer Charles “CQ” Brown joined via video from a NATO meeting in Brussels.
The US State Department announced Secretary Blinken‘s upcoming visit to Israel on Thursday to demonstrate “solidarity and support” during these challenging times.
In response to the Hamas attacks, the United States has dispatched fresh military assistance to Israel. The US Navy has also ordered its largest aircraft carrier to move closer to Israel, along with other warships and fighter jets, in a display of support.
President Biden made it clear that he was prepared to deploy “additional assets” if necessary to reinforce Washington’s backing of its ally and increase its presence in the volatile region.
However, the conflict has given rise to a hostage crisis for the United States, posing a complex challenge for President Biden. Hamas currently holds around 150 hostages, including children, the elderly, and young individuals. The group has issued threats to execute hostages each time Israel strikes a civilian target in Gaza without prior warning.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby emphasized the gravity of this threat, stating, “You can’t take a threat like that lightly because of the barbarity that Hamas has already shown they’re capable of.”
The United States has extended its offer of intelligence assistance and expertise in hostage recovery to Israel.
President Biden’s response to the crisis is under intense scrutiny both domestically, with the upcoming US presidential election, where Republicans accuse him of being lenient towards Iran, the sponsor of Hamas, and in the region, amid concerns of a potential broader conflict.
In a joint statement issued on Monday, President Biden, along with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, and Britain, cautioned against any party exploiting the attacks on Israel for their advantage, emphasizing that “this is not a moment for any party hostile to Israel to exploit these attacks to seek advantage.”
(Inputs from AFP)