Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won President Biden’s “private backing” for a ground invasion of Gaza during talks in Israel on Wednesday, The Times of London reported.
The report said Biden told Netanyahu that he remained “fully in support” of Israel’s plans to launch a ground incursion to “eliminate Hamas” despite outrage over the bombing of the Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City that Israel is blaming on an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket. The US is backing Israel’s side of the story, while Palestinian officials insist an Israeli airstrike hit the hospital.
According to a report from Axios on Wednesday’s talks between Biden and Netanyahu, the primary message Israeli officials expressed to President Biden was that the war in Gaza will take time and will test US support for Israel. Over 3,000 Palestinians have already been killed in Israel’s onslaught on Gaza that started on October 7, and any ground invasion will incur huge civilian casualties.
An Israeli ground invasion of Gaza appeared imminent toward the end of last week when Israel ordered the evacuation of northern Gaza, an area where 1.1 million people live. The Jerusalem Post reported that the incursion was delayed over concerns Hezbollah would open a second front in the north.
The US has deployed two aircraft carrier strike groups and other military assets to “deter” other actors from joining the war, and the White House has discussed the possibility of using military force against Hezbollah if it launches a significant attack on Israel.
The Axios report said that Biden expressed concern to Netanyahu that Hezbollah might join the war beyond the cross-border rocket strikes it has been exchanging with Israel in the north.