After speaking with Biden, Netanyahu suggests Israel’s assault on Gaza will persist

A member of the Palestinian Civil Defense walks among the rubble of a building in Gaza City that housed the Intaj bank linked to the Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip on May 15, 2021.

Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty Images

President Joe biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday as violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip escalated with no sign it would end anytime soon.

Separately, Netanyahu, after his call with Biden, suggested on Saturday night local time television that the Israeli operation would continue until it achieves its objectives.

“Our aim is to send Hamas a message that it is not worth firing rockets the next time it wants to,” he said. “We will take care of them and no one should take justice into their own hands.”

In a phone call with Netanyahu, Biden reiterated his support for Israel’s right to self-defense against rocket attacks by militant group Hamas in Gaza and condemned attacks in cities of Israel, statement found. published by the White House.

“The president noted that this current period of conflict has tragically claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children,” the newspaper said. “He expressed his concerns for the safety and security of journalists and stressed the need to ensure their protection.”

Netanyahu told Biden that Israel “is doing everything to avoid harming” those who are not involved with Hamas and that “those who are not involved” have been evacuated from the 12-story building in the Gaza Strip which housed the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Three Israeli heavy missiles the building collapsed on Saturday.

The president also spoke with Abbas about tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank and their common interest in making Jerusalem “a place of peaceful coexistence for people of all faiths and origins”.

“The president also underlined his strong commitment to a negotiated two-state solution as the best way to achieve a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to a reading of this call.

The extraordinary conflagration in Israel and the Gaza Strip has become an urgent first test for Biden’s foreign policy. The president worked in the Oval Office for a while on Saturday. He typically works at Camp David or his home state of Delaware on weekends.

The news of the destruction of media offices sparked international outrage and shock, prompting the White House to respond ahead of the publication of Biden’s readings.

US President Joe Biden speaks about the response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the White House rose garden vaccination program in Washington, May 13, 2021.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

The Biden administration “communicated directly to the Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a primary responsibility,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki wrote in a tweet on Saturday.

The Associated Press chairman, in a statement on Saturday, said a dozen PA journalists and freelancers evacuated the building before the strike, but “terrible loss of life” was averted narrowly even with prior warning from Israel that the building would be hit.

“We are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military is targeting and destroying the building housing the PA office and other news agencies in Gaza,” PA President and CEO Gary Pruitt said. “They had known the location of our office for a long time and knew reporters were there. We received a warning that the building would be hit.”

“It’s an incredibly worrying development,” Pruitt said of the airstrike.

Al Jazeera’s chief executive accused Israel of trying to silence the media and condemned the airstrike as a war crime, calling on the international community to hold Israel accountable.

“The destruction of the offices of Al Jazeera and other media organizations in the al-Jalaa tower in Gaza is a gross violation of human rights and is internationally considered a war crime,” said Dr Mostefa Souag , Interim Managing Director of Al Jazeera Media Network. , in an article published on the press agency’s website.

“We call on the international community to condemn such barbaric actions and the targeting of journalists and we demand immediate international action to hold Israel accountable for its deliberate targeting of journalists and media institutions,” Souag said.

“The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and hide the carnage and untold suffering of the people of Gaza,” Souag said.

At least 139 people have been killed, including 39 children, in Gaza. And in Israel, eight people have been killed as the conflict escalates.

Senator Bob Menendez, DN.J., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called in a statement on Saturday for “a full account of the actions which led to the deaths of civilians and the destruction of media.”

“All political and military leaders have a responsibility to uphold the rules and laws of war and it is of the utmost importance that all actors find ways to defuse and reduce tensions,” he said. declared. “This violence must stop.”

– Reuters and Associated Press contributed reporting

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