President Joe Biden has joined growing international calls for a ceasefire in the deepening conflict between the IDF and the operation of Palestinian factions out of the Gaza Strip.
But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to continue his campaign against enemy fighters.
In his third appeal with the Israeli leader since growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians erupted a week ago in the worst conflagration among rival forces in years, Biden “reiterated his strong support for Israel’s right to defend against indiscriminate rocket attacks “launched by a coalition. Palestinian groups led by the Hamas movement, and “praised efforts to combat inter-communal violence and restore calm to Jerusalem” amid deadly sectarian unrest.
Biden also “urged Israel to do everything to ensure the protection of innocent civilians” as the Palestinian death toll exceeded 200.
As the two men “discussed the progress of Israeli military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza,” Biden for the first time since the fighting broke out “expressed support for a ceasefire and discussed the United States’ engagement with Egypt and other partners to this end. “
The White House and the State Department have reported in recent days that US officials are in contact with counterparts from a number of countries in the region, in which all sides have called for calm and an end to the fighting. . The administration had however avoided using the term ceasefire until now.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Friday that Washington had “made it clear that we are ready to lend our support and good offices to the parties if they seek a ceasefire.”
Israeli officials, however, have insisted on the need to first ensure the degradation of the military capabilities of Hamas and allied factions like the Palestinian Islamic Jihad before operations are canceled or even halted.
Netanyahu said the campaign would continue in remarks made following consultations with key security officials including Defense Minister Benny Gantz, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi , Shin Bet director Nadav Argaman, Mossad director Yossi Cohen and national security adviser Meir Ben Shabat.
“The directive is to keep hitting terrorist targets,” Netanyahu said. “The IDF is doing it very well.”
Israeli leader praised recent strikes targeting senior enemy officials such as senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad commander Hussam Abu Harbid, and enemy capabilities including Hamas naval units and the underground tunnel network. , known to the IDF as the “metro”.
“We will continue to operate for as long as necessary to restore calm and security to all Israelis,” Netanyahu said.
The words of the Israeli commander-in-chief were then echoed by Kochavi. He praised the work of the leaders of the IDF Southern Command, whose tenacity to strike Hamas in the middle of a barrage of what Israel estimates to place some 3,350 rockets, many of which were intercepted by the Iron Dome, said he said, caught the Palestinian side off guard.
“Hamas was surprised by our strength, our methods and our achievements, and they are now suffering serious consequences,” Kovachi said. “This operation will continue as long as necessary.”
A Hamas spokesperson called on Newsweek the demands of the coalition of forces based in Gaza called the Palestinian Joint Operations Room, whose “objectives are to have our demands accepted by the Israeli occupation authorities”.
These objectives include “giving free access to worshipers from all parts of Palestine to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque without restriction or harassment from the Israeli police or Israeli settlers and to end attempts to expel Palestinian residents from Sheikh Jarrah “.
The current conflagration of the decades-long conflict can be traced to a court case in which Israeli families attempted to evict Palestinian residents from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in Israel-occupied East Jerusalem. The unrest escalated, culminating in an Israeli raid on Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam’s third holiest site, an operation that sparked outrage in the Muslim world and threats of rocket fire from the Muslim world. Hamas finally carried it out.
As Arab countries joined Hamas-backed Iran and Turkey in condemning Israel, they expressed official support for the rocket attacks, and many called for a cessation of hostilities instead. Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks over the past week with officials from Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Jordan and, most recently, the United Arab Emirates.
This is news in development. More information will be added as it becomes available.