Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement that said the Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza that continued through Friday “is not over yet.” So far, the bombardment that began on Monday has killed 137 Palestinians in Gaza, including 36 children.
“This is not yet over. We will do everything to restore security to our cities and our people,” Netanyahu said. The Israeli leader also thanked President Biden and other Western leaders for their support.
“I would like to say a word of appreciation to my friend President Biden and to other friends — the President of France, the British Prime Minister, the Chancellor of Austria, the Chancellor of Germany, and others,” Netanyahu said. “They have upheld our inherent and self-evident right to defend ourselves.”
The US has been standing firmly behind Israel while bombs have been pounding Gaza. On Thursday, President Biden said the bombing campaign was not a “significant overreaction.” While at least seven Israelis have been killed by rocket fire from Gaza this week, the initial barrage of rockets that Israel responded to did minimal damage and killed no one. Israel’s first round of airstrikes this week killed 20 people, including 10 children.
On Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with his Israeli counterpart and expressed the US’s “ironclad” commitment to Israel. At the UN, the US has blocked at least two statements condemning the violence and delayed a public meeting on the crisis.
The US has been calling for de-escalation, but the Israelis show no sign of slowing down and rejected a ceasefire offer from Hamas on Wednesday night. US envoy Hady Amr, a deputy assistant secretary of state, was dispatched to Israel to seek a de-escalation.
Rockets were initially fired out of Gaza after days of Israeli violence against Palestinians in East Jerusalem. In one incident, Israeli forces stormed al-Aqsa mosque, discharging tear gas and rubber bullets, wounding hundreds of unarmed Muslim worshippers. Tensions have also boiled over in the West Bank, where at least 11 Palestinians were killed on Friday.