Biden urges Israel to ‘eliminate’ Hamas, but confident it will try to avoid killing innocents

President Biden said that Israel needs to eliminate the terrorist organization Hamas but said he’s confident that the Jewish state’s bombardment of Gaza can minimize innocent deaths.

“Yes, I do,” Mr. Biden said in an interview tray aired on the CBS show “60 Minutes,” when asked whether he believes Israel needs to entirely eliminate Hamas, which was behind the Oct. 7 surprise terror attack in Israel.

“But I think Israel understands that a significant portion of Palestinian people do not share the views of Hamas and Hezbollah,” the president continued.

Mr. Biden said there needs to be a two-state solution that would create a Palestinian state, but such a compromise would not be possible in the wake of the terror attacks.

In response to the terror attack, Israel has hit back in the largest bombardment of Gaza ever. The Health Ministry in Gaza said Sunday that Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 2,670 people, including 724 children, and wounded more than 9,600 others.

Mr. Biden said, in an interview taped Thursday, that there is a difference between the attack on Israel and its response in Gaza.

“Israel is going after a group of people who have engaged in barbarism that is as consequential as the Holocaust. And so I think Israel has to respond. They have to go after Hamas,” Mr. Biden said. “Hamas is a bunch of cowards. They’re hiding behind civilians.”

The president also expressed confidence that Israel will do everything possible to avoid killing innocents. 

Israel has cut off food, electricity and some water to Gaza. It has also ordered more than 1 million people living in Gaza to evacuate as Israeli troops have begun amassing at the Gaza border.

The United Nations has warned of a humanitarian catastrophe if Gaza is blocked from food and medicine shipments.

“I’m confident Israel is going to act under the rules of war,” he said. “There is a standard that democratic institutions and countries go by. I’m confident there is going to be the ability for innocents in Gaza to have access to medicine, food and water.”

When pressed about whether Israel would respect the rules of war and try to spare innocents, Mr. Biden emphatically repeated that it would. But he also cautioned Israel not to occupy Gaza permanently as some have accused it of planning.

“I think it would be a big mistake. What happened in Gaza, in my view — the extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent the Palestinian people. It would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again,” he said.

Administration officials have been in talks with both Israel and Egypt about creating a humanitarian corridor in the area to allow innocents to get out as well as bringing humanitarian supplies into Gaza.

“We’re also talking to Egyptians [about] whether there is an outlet to get these women and children out [of] that area at this moment,” he said.

The president also reiterated his pledge that U.S. troops will not be put on the ground in Israel to help it wage its war on Hamas.

“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Mr. Biden said of the possibility of U.S. troops being dispatched to the Jewish state. “Israel has one of the finest fighting forces in the [world]. I guarantee you we are going to provide them with everything they need.” 

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