Biden pledges support for Israel
FOX News White House correspondent Peter Doocy has the latest on the president’s trip on ‘Special Report.’
President Biden has placed a condition on humanitarian aid going into the Gaza Strip, as Israel said Wednesday it will allow Egypt to deliver limited supplies for civilians. The aid will be the first assistance given to Gaza since Israel imposed a punishing 10-day siege on the territory.
The announcement to allow water, food and other supplies happened after President Biden visited Israel Wednesday hoping to prevent a wider conflict in the region. During his one-day visit to Israel, Biden announced $100 million in humanitarian aid for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank but said if Hamas confiscates the aid “it will end.”
Biden’s visit tried to strike a balance between showing U.S. support for Israel amid its war with Hamas while expressing concern for the civilian casualties. He unequivocally said the U.S. stands with Israel and its right to defend itself from Hamas terror attacks but attempted to dampen growing alarm among Arab allies that the current war could escalate into a wider conflict.
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the approval to allow the aid was given after Biden requested it. He said Israel “will not thwart” deliveries of food, water or medicine from Egypt, as long as they don’t go to Hamas militants.
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US President Joe Biden speaks to members of the Media during his flight returning from Israel aboard Air Force One, on October 18, 2023. Joe Biden on October 18 delivered full US backing for Israel in person, on a solidarity visit in which he blamed Islamist militants for a deadly rocket strike on a Gaza hospital and announced the resumption of urgent aid to the besieged Palestinian enclave. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Upon his arrival, Biden met with Netanyahu and said an explosion at Gaza City’s al-Ahli Hospital, which left hundreds of civilians dead, was not Israel’s fault — as Hamas and Palestinian supporters claim.
On Wednesday, Israel announced Egypt’s president agreed to open the Rafah crossing, Gaza’s only connection to Egypt, to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. An initial group of 20 trucks delivering aid will start on Friday at the earliest, White House officials said.
Egypt has to first repair the road across the border that was damaged by Israeli airstrikes. More than 200 trucks and some 3,000 tons of aid are positioned at or near the Rafah crossing, according to Khalid Zayed, the head of the Red Crescent for North Sinai.
Families and supporters of Israelis held captive in Gaza call for their release during a demonstration in Tel Aviv, Israel, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023. The Israeli army says some 200 people were kidnapped and taken to Gaza in Hamas’ cross-border attack on Israel on Oct. 7. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
Previous assistance given to Palestinians in Gaza has been seized by Hamas to construct its voluminous network of tunnels and to purchase weapons, Israeli officials have said.
The new supplies will go in under the supervision of the U.N., Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told Al-Arabiya TV. Asked if foreigners and dual nationals seeking to leave would be let through, he said: “As long as the crossing is operating normally and the (crossing) facility has been repaired.”
President Joe Biden is greeted by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023, in Tel Aviv. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Israel shut off all supplies — including food, water, electricity and fuel — to Gaza soon after Hamas terrorists carried out a ruthless assault on Israeli communities near the border and took at least 200 hostages back into Gaza on Oct. 7.
Relatives of some of the hostages reacted in fury to the aid announcement.
A boy lights candles in the form of the Star of David in honour of victims of the Hamas attacks during a vigil at the Dizengoff square in central Tel Aviv, Israel, on Wednesday, Oct 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)
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“Children, infants, women, soldiers, men, and elderly, some with serious illnesses, wounded and shot, are held underground like animals,” said a statement from the Hostage and Missing Families Forum. But “the Israeli government pampers the murderers and kidnappers.”
More than 1 million Palestinians — roughly half of Gaza’s population — have fled their homes, fleeing from the north and Gaza City to the south, since the start of the war.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.