The Israeli capital of TEL AVIV On Wednesday, President Joe Biden claimed it seems Israel was not responsible for a blast at a hospital in Gaza City that killed hundreds.
President Joe Biden said, “Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though the other team, not you,” at the beginning of a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shortly after his arrival in Tel Aviv.
Although “a lot of people out there” remain uncertain as to who was responsible for the explosion, Biden emphasized that “we’ve got to overcome a lot of things.”
On Wednesday, Vice President Biden flew in Israel, where he will endeavor to prevent the Israel-Hamas confrontation from escalating into a wider battle while displaying strong support for America’s closest partner in the Middle East.
Biden’s traveling press secretary, John Kirby, said, “He’ll be asking some tough questions,” in reference to national security problems. “He’ll be asking them as a friend, as a true friend of Israel, but he will be asking some questions of them.”
At Ben-Gurion International Airport, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu greeted Biden with an embrace. Biden and Netanyahu have collaborated for almost four decades. Israeli President Isaac Herzog was there for Biden’s visit, along with other dignitaries.
Biden began his discussion with Netanyahu by expressing his “sadness and outrage” about the bombing in Gaza City on Tuesday. Israeli airstrikes were to responsible, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry. Israeli military officials blamed a misfired Palestinian missile for the damage.
Netanyahu thanked Biden for visiting Israel and praised him “for the unequivocal support you’ve giving Israel over these trying times.” He pointed out that Biden is the first sitting American president to visit Israel when it is at war.
During his brief visit to the country at war with Hamas, Vice President Biden spoke with first responders and families who had lost loved ones in the fighting. There was some question as to whether or not that would include relatives of the 31 Americans confirmed dead and the 13 still missing.
To address the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, Biden was scheduled to meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman after his visit to Israel.
After Tuesday’s hospital blast, however, the four-way conference was canceled.
In a statement released before landing in Israel, Biden said he had requested his national security staff to investigate.
“The United States stands unequivocally for the protection of civilian life during conflict and we mourn the patients, medical staff and other innocents killed or wounded in this tragedy,” Biden said in a press release.
His visit comes around a week and a half after Israeli airstrikes on Gaza in reaction for Hamas’s unexpected assault on Israel, in which at least 1,300 Israelis lost their lives.
To determine what kind of assistance is required and to discuss Israel’s overarching strategy, Biden was set to meet with Netanyahu face-to-face and with his military council.
According to Jon Alterman, head of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, Biden may bring his own traumatic experience following the U.S. invasion of Iraq to that conversation.
“He saw how an extended occupation not only cost lives and money, but also had a way of distorting both the occupied and the occupier,” Alterman said. “He carries the wounds of the fight against Islamic State, as well as the post-conflict successes that can come from separating terrorists from the civilians they hide among.”
Kirby said that Vice President Biden is hopeful humanitarian help will reach Palestinians in Gaza.
“It’s really really important, that that assistance gets in as soon as possible,” according to him, “and that it can be sustained.”