Biden to seek 'unprecedented' Israel aid package; pledges $100 million for humanitarian relief


Politics

Biden to seek ‘unprecedented’ Israel aid package; pledges $100 million for humanitarian relief

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Amanda Macias@amanda_m_macias

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Key Points
  • President Joe Biden announced $100 million in new humanitarian assistance to victims of the ongoing conflict in Israel, and reaffirmed America’s commitment to its longtime ally.
  • Biden, the first U.S. president to visit Israel during wartime, arrived in Tel Aviv hours after an explosion killed hundreds of people in a hospital in Gaza.
  • Biden said Israel was not behind the attack citing data provided by the Pentagon.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks as he visits Israel amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 18, 2023. 
Evelyn Hockstein | Reuters

UNITED NATIONS President Joe Biden reaffirmed America’s commitment to Israel Wednesday in Tel Aviv, where he placed blame for a deadly attack on a hospital squarely at the feet of militants inside Gaza.

“Based on the information we’ve seen to date, it appears it was a result of an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza,” he said.

Biden also committed $100 million in humanitarian assistance to both Gaza and the West Bank, to support the more than 1 million people displaced by the ongoing conflict.

The president said he planned to ask Congress for an “unprecedented support package for Israel’s defense,” but did not elaborate.

Biden arrived in Tel Aviv hours after an explosion killed hundreds of people taking shelter at the al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza.

“I was outraged and saddened by the enormous loss of life yesterday in the hospital in Gaza,” Biden said after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog.

Both Israel and Hamas have blamed each other for the deadly blast at the hospital. In the wake of the attack Biden’s scheduled meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and King Abdullah II of Jordan in Amman was called off.

“The United States unequivocally stands for the protection of civilian life during conflict. And I grieve, I truly grieve for the families who were killed or wounded by this tragedy,” Biden said.

The president said the humanitarian aid would be delivered via U.N. agencies and international NGOs, and he warned Hamas not to commandeer the supplies, a common occurrence in Gaza.

“Let me be clear if Hamas averts or steals the assistance, it will have demonstrated once again that they have no concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people,” Biden said, adding that he would halt the aid if it did not flow to civilians.

Read live updates of the Israel-Hamas conflict

Meanwhile, Biden’s top diplomat at the United Nations vetoed a resolution on humanitarian assistance in Gaza because it failed to “mention Israel’s right of self-defense” in the wake of the Oct. 7 attack carried out by Hamas.

US ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield votes on a resolution regarding the situation in Israel and Gaza at a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, at the United Nations on October 18, 2023 in New York.
Bryan R. Smith | AFP | Getty Images

“Russia’s resolution, put forward without any consultations, makes no mention of Hamas – none. By failing to condemn Hamas, Russia is giving cover to a terrorist group that brutalizes innocent civilians. It is outrageous, it is hypocritical and it is indefensible,” Thomas-Greenfield said before the United Nations Security Council.

“Every member state should condemn Hamas as terrorism and cruelty and every member state should call on Hamas to cease its endless barrage of rockets against Israel. This is not complicated. It’s not controversial. This is the bare minimum,” she added.

Thomas-Greenfield also said the U.S. was working to address urgent humanitarian needs in Gaza and called for diplomacy carried out by Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and regional partners to “play out.”

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