President Joe Biden held a call Wednesday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his first in-person contact with the nation since it began exchanging airstrikes and rocket barrages Monday with Hamas.
Biden emphasized that the U.S. deeply supports Israel’s right to defend itself in the wake of Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing hundreds of rockets into Israel in recent days, according to a White House statement on the call. The Israeli military has responded by carrying out airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, causing dozens of casualties. Biden also emphasized his wish that the fighting come to a conclusion soon.
President Biden says he spoke to Israeli PM Netanyahu about violence there and “my expectation and hope is this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself.”
— Steve Holland (@steveholland1) May 12, 2021
“[Biden] condemned the rocket attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including against Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. He conveyed his unwavering support for Israel’s security and for Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself and its people, while protecting civilians,” the statement read.
“He also conveyed the United States’ encouragement of a pathway toward restoring a sustainable calm. He shared his conviction that Jerusalem, a city of such importance to people of faith from around the world, must be a place of peace,” it continued. (RELATED: Israel Assassinates Top Hamas Commander, Islamist Soldiers In Targeted Airstrikes: Report)
Israel intercepts Gaza rockets with Iron Dome defence system pic.twitter.com/sMk2gxeIY2
— The Independent (@Independent) May 12, 2021
At least 56 Palestinians have reportedly been killed, a figure that includes 14 children and Hamas targets. The Israeli military said it killed 25 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members during its airstrikes, according to The Wall Street Journal. Additionally, seven Israelis, including one Israeli child, were killed by Hamas’ rockets.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also held a call Wednesday regarding the Israel-Gaza conflict with Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling for the international community to “teach a deterrent lesson” to Israel.
Turkey could pose a threat to Israel if it decides to intervene in the conflict, which is the most severe exchange of rocket attacks and air strikes in years. For now, Erdogan has only called on Putin and the U.N. to punish Israel. He did say, however, that “we will do everything we can to ensure the cruel are sentenced to the fate they deserve” if the international community doesn’t act.