Conflicts & War

Israel has ‘right to defend itself,’ Biden says after talk with Netanyahu

Update 1: Adds Blinken quotes

Washington, May 12 (EFE).- Israel has the right to defend itself, United States President Joe Biden said on Wednesday after a phone call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he assured of his “unwavering support” amid the escalation of the violence with Palestine.

“He condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including against Jerusalem and Tel Aviv,” a White House readout of the phone call with the key ally said.

“He conveyed his unwavering support for Israel’s security and for Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians.”

Biden encouraged finding a path to “a sustainable calm” and expressed “his conviction that Jerusalem, a city of such importance to people of faith from around the world, must be a place of peace.”

Before the release of the statement, Biden had told reporters at the White House that he had spoken with Netanyahu and that he expected the crisis to end “sooner rather than later.”

Still, he stressed that Israel “has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory.”

Israeli Defense Forces put the number of rockets fired from Gaza at 1,500, however most are neutralized by its Iron Dome. The IDF has not given its own updated figure on how many bombings and airstrikes it has carried out on Gaza.

At an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the conflict Wednesday, the US stopped a joint declaration aimed at reducing tension that was approved by the other 14 members.

According to the White House, Biden also informed Netanyahu of his government’s diplomatic engagements with countries such as Egypt, Jordan, Qatar, and with Palestinian officials.

The US announced Wednesday that it will send its Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israel and Palestinian Affairs, Hady Amr, to the Middle East and called on Israel to avoid civilian casualties.

US State Secretary Anthony Blinken also condemned the rocket attacks on Israel in a call with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Secretary (Blinken) condemned the rocket attacks and emphasized the need to de-escalate tensions and end the current violence,” the State Department said in a statement.

In the call with Abbas, Blinken also expressed “that Palestinians and Israelis deserve the same levels of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity” and said he lamented “the loss of life” in recent days.

Israel and the Palestinian militant groups did not show any restraint on Wednesday, despite the deaths of civilians and international appeals.

Since Monday, seven people have died in Israel, and in Gaza, 65 Palestinians have been killed, including 16 children. EFE


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