US president Joe Biden has stated that Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip and the operation to eliminate Palestinian resistance Hamas had been “over the top”, in comments increasingly expressing human rights concerns being committed by occupation forces.
Speaking to reporters at the White House on Thursday, president Biden said “I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in Gaza – in the Gaza Strip – has been over the top”, insisting that more must be done to address and stem the humanitarian crisis in the besieged territory.
“I’ve been pushing really hard – really hard – to get humanitarian assistance into Gaza”, he said. “A lot of innocent people are starving. A lot [of] innocent people [are] in trouble and dying. And it’s got to stop”.
Biden expressed his optimism at the prospect of a deal currently being brokered which would see Hamas’s release of Israeli hostages in exchange for a prolonged pause in the fighting that could eventually lead to a more sustained ceasefire.
“I’m pushing very hard now to deal with this hostage ceasefire. I’ve been working tirelessly in this deal.” The proposal, he said, would “lead to a sustained pause in the fighting, in the actions taking place in the Gaza Strip. And because I think if we could get the delay for that, the initial delay, I think that we would be able to extend that so that we could increase the prospect that this fighting in Gaza changes”.
The American president’s comments are his sharpest criticism until now regarding Israel’s military conduct in Gaza, after months of private concerns held by Biden, many of his staffers, and a significant number of Democrat lawmakers. His open criticism of the Israeli occupation’s conduct and war crimes in Gaza represent a dramatic shift compared to his initial unconditional support for Tel Aviv.
Despite the increasing openness in his criticism and concerns, however, he continues to stop short of calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.