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Biden appears to call Israel’s Gaza response ‘over the top,‘ US pressures Israel against Rafah offensive

New US memorandum conditions military aid to allies on human rights promises

U.S. President Joe Biden (Photo: Shutterstock)

In what could be his most critical comments during the ongoing Gaza war to date, U.S. President Biden appeared to call Israel’s military response to the Hamas attack on Oct. 7 in Gaza “over the top,” during a press briefing on Thursday.

The possible confusion stemmed from the fact that the comments came after Biden was asked by a reporter about “the hostage negotiations,” just as he was about to leave.

Biden turned back to the podium and said: “I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza, in the Gaza Strip, has been over the top,” without specifying which response he was talking about.

In addition, Biden has recently called Hamas’ response to the latest hostage deal proposal, “a little over the top.”

The president’s comments came minutes after defending his mental capabilities against recent findings by a Justice Department Special Council that Biden had mishandled top secret files and struggled to recall key life events.

Continuing his response about the negotiations, Biden went on to call Egypt’s president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, “the president of Mexico, Sisi.”

Biden said el-Sisi “did not want to open up the gate to allow humanitarian material to get in. I talked to him. I convinced him to open the gate. I talked to Bibi [Netanyahu] to open the gate on the Israeli side. I’ve been pushing really hard, really hard, to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza. There are a lot of innocent people who are starving, a lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying, and it’s gotta stop.”

If, indeed, Biden was addressing Israel’s response to Oct. 7, his remarks would dovetail with his administration’s increasingly critical approach to Israel in recent months.

In the same vein, a new memorandum by the United States, outlining conditions imposed on military aid sent to U.S. allies, could also be aimed at increasing pressure on Israel to agree to a negotiated deal to end the war in Gaza.

The memorandum doesn’t specifically apply to Israel, instead conditioning military aid to all allied nations on “credible and reliable written assurances” of adherence to international law, including international human rights law.

The Biden administration in recent weeks has been focused on preventing an Israeli advance on the town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip near the Egyptian border.

U.S. National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby said on Thursday that such an operation had no support from the U.S. given the current circumstances.

Similarly, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said Washington had not yet seen evidence of “serious planning” by Israel for an operation in Rafah, stressing potentially catastrophic consequences. “Conducting such an operation at this time without planning... would be a disaster,” he said.

Rafah is reportedly the last major town still under Hamas control and the tunnel system underneath the city is estimated to be the hiding place of the terror group's remaining leadership, as well as the place where most of the Israeli hostages are being held.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant have repeatedly vowed that Israeli troops would reach Rafah. The IDF has stepped up its airstrikes in the area in recent days.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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