Biden tells Israel Gaza hospital blast appears to have been ‘done by the other team’ | ET REALITY

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President Biden came to Israel’s defense on Wednesday, flying to the war-torn country for a bold visit and backing his denial of responsibility for the devastating explosion that killed hundreds of Palestinians at a Gaza hospital.

With the region convulsed by anger and protests after the explosion, the president rejected Palestinian claims that the hospital was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike and instead backed the government’s insistence that it was an errant rocket fired by Islamic Jihad, an extremist group aligned with Hamas.

“From what I’ve seen, it looks like the other team did it, not you,” Biden said spontaneously while sitting in a Tel Aviv hotel next to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel in a show of solidarity.

“But there are many people who are not sure,” he said, referring to skepticism in the Arab world. “So we have a lot, we have to overcome a lot of things.”

Biden said in another town hall later in the day that he relied on a U.S. military assessment to reach his conclusion. When a journalist asked him what made him so sure it wasn’t Israel, he responded: “The data my Defense Department showed me.”

The timing of the president’s visit could hardly have been more politically precarious. After an all-night flight from Washington, Biden landed in a country traumatized by terrorism and preparing for a protracted war against Hamas, placing himself at the center of a volatile conflict as rockets and recriminations come and go with no end in sight. . .

His meetings with Netanyahu and the Israeli war cabinet shared a split screen with mangled bodies being pulled from the rubble of the decimated hospital. It was unclear whether a US endorsement of Israel’s denial of responsibility would convince many in the Arab world, where protests have broken out in the region’s capitals.

Biden was determined to let no light come between him and Israel, even as he privately pushed for the resumption of humanitarian aid to Gaza and stressed the importance of minimizing civilian casualties. “I want you to know that you are not alone,” he said with the cameras on. “You are not alone. As I emphasized before, we will continue to stand with Israel.”

In addition to Israeli officials, the president met with survivors and relatives of victims of the Hamas attack on October 7, toured a hotel conference room and listened to each of them tell their story one by one. Several cried as they told their stories and the president gave each of them a hug.

Among them was Rachel Edri, a retired grandmother who was held hostage at gunpoint in her home for 20 hours and used food and conversation to keep her captors calm and entertain them until she could be rescued. Her son, Evyatar Edri, is a police officer who helped free her parents.

Another was Amir Tibon, who huddled in the dark with his wife and two daughters for 10 hours while their kibbutz was attacked by Hamas gunmen until his father, Noam Tibon, a retired general, rushed to his rescue armed only with a gun.

Netanyahu, who had been at odds with Biden for much of the year until the Hamas attack, seemed delighted to highlight the president’s visit. “From the moment Israel was attacked, you have rightly drawn a clear line between the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism,” he said.

The Israeli prime minister retold Biden the horrors of the attack, describing raped women, decapitated soldiers and children hunted in hiding places in their homes. “Imagine, Mr. President, the fear and panic of those little children in their last moments when the monsters discovered and discovered their hiding places,” Netanyahu said.

The president’s public support for Israel, his advisers said, did not mean he would not pressure Netanyahu privately. Israel has declared a siege on Gaza, cutting off food, electricity, medicine and other supplies while its airstrikes cause hundreds of deaths.

“He’s going to ask some tough questions,” White House National Security Council spokesman John F. Kirby told reporters on Air Force One as the president flew over the Atlantic. “He will ask you as a friend, as a true friend of Israel.”

When asked what the “difficult questions” would be, Kirby emphasized that the president would not lecture Israelis about what they should do. “When I talk about difficult questions I don’t mean threatening or in any way confrontational,” he said. “Just tough questions that a good friend of Israel would ask.”

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