Biden Sounds a Note of Caution for Israel

An occupation of Gaza would be a 'big mistake,' he says
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 16, 2023 6:44 AM CDT
Biden Sounds a Note of Caution for Israel
Palestinians look fro survivors after Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023.   (AP Photo/Fatima Shbair)

As the world awaits what appears to be an imminent ground invasion of Gaza by Israel, President Biden sought to tread a fine line in regard to the Israeli response in a 60 Minutes interview. He supported Israel's right to go after Hamas and said the group should be wiped out, but he also warned against an occupation of Gaza and worried about the fate of civilians.

  • Occupation: "I think it'd be a big mistake," he said of the idea of Israel reoccupying the territory, per the New York Times. "Taking out the extremists ... is a necessary requirement," he added, but "I think that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again." Meanwhile, Israeli ambassador Michael Herzog told CNN that "we have no desire to occupy or reoccupy Gaza. We have no desire to rule over the lives of more than 2 million Palestinians."
  • Hamas: Biden agreed when asked whether Hamas should be "eliminated entirely," saying they had "engaged in barbarism that is as consequential as the Holocaust," per Newsweek. "Israel has to respond. They have to go after Hamas. Hamas is a bunch of cowards." Longer term, he said "there needs to be a Palestinian Authority. There needs to be a path to a Palestinian state."

  • Civilians: The president did not call for a ceasefire when asked about one, and said he was confident Israel would abide by the "rules of war" in regard to protecting civilians. He also backed the idea of creating an evacuation corridor or "safe zone." Axios offers a quick assessment: The president "has been full-throated in his support for Israel in the wake of the Hamas attack, but his remarks on 60 Minutes signal that he hopes to keep some guardrails on what is likely to be a massive Israeli operation in response." More than 1 million have fled their Gaza homes in anticipation of the ground assault, per the AP.
  • Border: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters during a visit to Egypt on Sunday that a border crossing between Egypt and Gaza will reopen to allow in the shipments of humanitarian aid for Palestinians, per NPR. He added that the UN is helping Israel and Egypt coordinate the shipments through the Rafah crossing.
  • Militant leader: Israel said one of its missile strikes over the weekend killed a Hamas commander believed to have led one of the massacres on an Israeli kibbutz, per the Telegraph. The military says Billal Al Kedra led the attack on Kibbutz Nirim during the Oct. 7 raid.
(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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