US President Joe Biden is set to visit Israel on Wednesday at a time when the country is facing its toughest battle with the terrorist group Hamas.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken while addressing a press conference here on Tuesday said that President Biden is coming to Israel at a "critical moment" and will reaffirm the US' solidarity with Israel.
"US President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday. He is coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region, and for the world. President Biden will reaffirm the United States' solidarity with Israel. President Biden will again make clear, as he's done unequivocally since Hamas's slaughter of more than 1,400 people, including at least 30 Americans, that Israel has the right and indeed the duty to defend its people from Hamas and other terrorists and to prevent future attacks," he said.
He further added by saying that President Biden will continue to coordinate closely with the Israeli partners to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas.
"President Biden will underscore our crystal clear message to any actor, state or non-state trying to take advantage of this crisis to attack Israel, don't. President will continue to coordinate closely with our Israeli partners to secure the release of hostages taken by Hamas...The United States and Israel have agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza," he said.
Biden To Get Comprehensive Brief About Israeli Operations
Blinken noted that President Biden will also receive a comprehensive brief on Israel's war aims and strategy.
"The President will hear from Israel how it will conduct its operations in a way that minimizes civilian casualties and enables humanitarian assistance to flow to civilians in Gaza in a way that does not benefit Hamas.To that end, today and at our request, the United States and Israel have agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza and them alone, including the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm's way. It is critical that aid begins flowing into Gaza as soon as possible," he said.
"If Hamas in any way blocks humanitarian assistance from reaching civilians, including by seizing the aid itself, we'll be the first to condemn it, and we will work to prevent it from happening again," he added.
White House Issues Statement Over President's Visit
Meanwhile, the White House also issued a statement on President Biden's visit to Israel. "President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will travel to Israel on Wednesday, October 18, to demonstrate his steadfast support for Israel in the face of Hamas's brutal terrorist attack and to consult on next steps," the White House said.
"President Biden will then travel to Amman, Jordan, where he will meet with his Majesty King Abdullah, Egyptian President Sisi, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He will reiterate that Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people's right to dignity and self-determination and discuss the humanitarian needs of civilians in Gaza," the White House added in its statement.
Earlier on Monday, Spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister's Office (PMO) Tal Heinrich announced that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has extended an invitation to US President Joe Biden to visit Israel and hopes to host the president soon.
"Prime Minister Netanyahu invited US President Joe Biden to Israel, and we hope to host the president soon. We are truly grateful for the support of the united front against the commons," the Spokesperson for the Israeli PMO said.
She said the IDF continues to target those responsible for the massacre in Israel.
"Over the last few hours, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) carried out dozens of airstrikes in the Gaza Strip. The targets included Hamas headquarters, mortar launching positions, and a number of terrorists at a military compound," she said.
She further said that the IDF had struck the command centre of Ali Qadhi, a commander in the Hamas commando forces who was killed in an Israeli strike two days ago. "As the IDF Chief of Staff told our frontline troops, 'attack them everywhere, every commander, every operative'..."
She said Israel appreciates the unconditional and unwavering support of its allies.
Netanyahu Invited Biden To Visit Israel
CNN recently reported that Netanyahu has invited Biden to visit Israel soon, and both countries are discussing the possibility, a source familiar with the matter revealed.
A Biden visit would also amount to a message to other players in the region, including the Iran-backed Hezbollah, that they should not escalate the conflict further, as per CNN.
Biden recently said that there is a "fundamental difference" between Israelis killed in the Hamas attack and Palestinian civilians and Hamas terrorists killed in Tel Aviv's counter-attack as the terrorist group Hamas has engaged in barbarism "that is as consequential as the holocaust."
Speaking to CBS News in a 60-minute interview, Biden called Hamas a "bunch of cowards" who are hiding behind the civilians. He expressed confidence that Israel would do everything in their power to avoid the killing of innocent civilians.
Asked whether there was a time for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Biden said, "Look, there's a fundamental difference. 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. Hamas is a bunch of cowards. They're hiding behind the civilians. They put their headquarters where civilians are and buildings and the like. But to the extent they can separate out and avoid, I'm confident the Israelis are gonna do everything in their power to avoid the killing of innocent civilians," he said.