U.S. President Joe Biden visited Israel on Wednesday after the October 7 attack by the militant group Hamas that killed more than 1,400 people.
In addition to talks with Israeli leaders, Biden had planned to visit Jordan. But, that part of his plan was canceled after an explosion killed hundreds of people at a hospital in Gaza.
Since the attack by Hamas on civilians earlier this month, Israel has answered with air strikes and other attacks.
Hamas fighters said Israel was to blame for the blast that they said killed about 500 people. Israel’s defense force responded, saying the explosion came from an off-target rocket fired by the Islamic Jihad militant group.
Before the explosion, Biden was supposed to speak with King Abdullah II of Jordan, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss humanitarian aid for Gazans.
Israel has promised a full ground invasion of Gaza and asked that Palestinians living in the northern part of the territory evacuate to the south. About 600,000 people so far have followed the order.
About 3,000 Palestinians have died during Israel’s operations, the Gaza Health Ministry said.
Biden said he was given information from U.S. military experts that made him believe the hospital explosion was not from an Israeli weapon. While in Israel, he said he was sad to see what happened to the hospital, but “it appears it was done by the other team, not you.”
Islamic Jihad says it was not responsible for the explosion.
Biden said he understands that many people watching the conflict from afar might not believe him.
He told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “Americans are grieving,” and “worried” about how difficult it will be for Israel to respond to the attack.
The Biden administration said Wednesday that Biden spoke with King Abdullah II and chose to postpone his travel to Jordan.
As Biden was in Israel, the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a humanitarian cease-fire that would permit Hamas to release Israeli hostages. In addition, the U.N. would like Israel to re-open its borders with Gaza to permit food and water to enter.
The U.S. president said he was concerned that food and other aid would not reach the Palestinian people who need it the most.
“If Hamas diverts or steals the assistance, they will have demonstrated once again that they have no concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people,” Biden said.
He said the U.S. approved $100 million in aid if it could be delivered to the neediest people.
Netanyahu said Biden’s visit was “deeply moving.” Biden said the U.S. would continue to support Israel but also work “to prevent more tragedy to innocent civilians.”
The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations is Riyad Mansour. He said the meeting with Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian leaders would only happen if Biden were to negotiate a cease-fire.
Israel is being criticized for cutting off electricity and restricting entry to Gaza. European Council President Charles Michel called Israel’s tactic “not in line with international law.”
I’m Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for Learning English based on a report by VOA’s Patsy Widakuswara and wire services.
Words in This Story
evacuate –v. to leave or be moved from an area because of a threat or because it is unsafe
grieve –v. the show great sadness because of an event especially in public
divert –v. to take in a different direction that planned
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