As Israeli bombs are pounding Gaza, the US is standing firmly behind its ally. President Biden on Thursday said the bombing campaign that has killed over 100 people is not a “significant overreaction.”
“I have my intelligence community, the Defense Department, as well as the State Department … in contact with all of their counterparts, not only in Israel, but in the region, and one of the things I have seen thus far is there has not been a significant overreaction,” Biden said.
Israel’s bombing campaign began on Monday after rockets were fired out of Gaza in response to the ongoing violence against Palestinians in East Jerusalem. The first barrage of Gaza rockets did minimal damage, only leaving one Israeli “lightly injured.” Israel responded by carrying out a series of airstrikes in Gaza that killed 20 Palestinians, including 10 children.
As of Friday morning in Gaza, 113 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes, including 13 children. In Israel, seven people have been killed by rocket fire, including one child.
US officials have been calling for a “de-escalation,” but Israel shows no signs of slowing down. “The question is how do we get to a point — they get to a point — where there is a significant reduction in the attacks, particularly the rocket attacks that are indiscriminately fired in the population centers, but I expect I’ll be having some more discussions,” Biden said on Thursday.
On Wednesday night, Israel rejected a ceasefire offer from Hamas and approved a plan to intensify airstrikes indefinitely. Late Thursday, Israel started what Israeli media described as “the heaviest strikes yet,” as air and ground forces bombarded northern Gaza. So far, it appears no IDF troops have entered Gaza and are only attacking from the Israeli side of the border, but a ground invasion is reportedly being planned.
Israeli officials are warning that the brutal siege is far from over. While the IDF was readying plans on Thursday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said “Gaza will burn” if Hamas rockets continue to be fired.
Like other Israeli officials, Gantz is portraying the ongoing violence as the result of Hamas refusing to stop firing rockets. But the ceasefire Israel rejected on Wednesday was an offer from Hamas to halt attacks on a “mutual basis” with Israel, a proposal that got little attention from Western media.
It’s clear Israel is using this latest flare-up as an opportunity to launch a full-scale offensive against Gaza, and judging by Biden’s comments, the US is fully behind it.