The IDF on May 15 destroyed a building in the Gaza Strip that housed several international media outlets, including branches of Al Jazeera and the Associated Press. The Israeli military notified the building’s residents and office workers to evacuate from the building prior to the airstrike. U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the same day, expressing concern for the safety and security of journalists and stressing the need to ensure journalists are protected. Biden also spoke Saturday with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas for the first time since taking office.
On the call between the U.S. and Israeli heads, the White House said in a statement, “The President spoke today with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The President reiterated his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist organizations in Gaza. He condemned these indiscriminate attacks against towns and cities across Israel.” The White House statement said, “The President updated the Prime Minister on high-level U.S. engagement with regional partners on this issue and discussed ongoing diplomatic efforts. The president noted that the current period of conflict has tragically claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children. He expressed concern for the safety and security of journalists and stressed the need to ensure their protection.”
The White House statement continued, “The President expressed grave concern about the intercommunal violence across Israel. He welcomed statements by the Prime Minister and other leaders opposing such acts of hatred and encouraged continued steps to hold violent extremists accountable and establish calm. They discussed the current tensions in Jerusalem and expressed their shared desire for Jerusalem to be a place where people of all faiths and backgrounds can live together in peace. The president expressed concern about the violent confrontations in the West Bank.” Biden expressed support for measures to “enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom and economic opportunity they deserve, and affirmed his support for a two-state solution. The two leaders agreed to continue close consultations between their teams and to stay in touch in the coming days.”
In connection with the call, Netanyahu tweeted, “I spoke with President Biden on the phone and briefed him on the developments and actions Israel has taken and intends to take. I thanked him for the unreserved support he gave to the United States in defending our rights.” A statement issued by the Israeli prime minister’s office said, “The prime minister briefed the president on the latest developments in Israel and actions that have been taken, as well as actions that Israel intends to take.” The statement said, “Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked President Biden and the United States for its unequivocal support for Israel’s right to self-defense. Prime Minister Netanyahu stressed that Israel is making every effort to avoid harming uninvolved persons; proof of this is the fact that the IDF is evacuating uninvolved persons from buildings where they are fighting terrorist targets.”
In addition, Biden spoke by phone with Palestinian leader Abbas, the first call between the two since he became U.S. president in January. A White House statement said, “President Biden spoke today with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to convey the U.S. commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Palestinian partnership. They discussed the current tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank and expressed their shared desire for Jerusalem to be a place where people of all faiths and backgrounds can live together in peace.” The statement said, “President Biden updated President Abbas on U.S. diplomatic engagement on the ongoing conflict and stressed the need for Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel.”
The two expressed their shared concern over the tragic loss of innocent civilians, including children, in the ongoing violence. The statement said, “The president expressed his support for steps to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom and economic opportunity they deserve. In this regard, he highlighted the recent U.S. decision to resume assistance to the Palestinian people, including economic and humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. The President also underscored his strong commitment to a negotiated two-state solution as the best way to reach a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”
With the violent clashes between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip showing no signs of abating, the latest figures provided by the Palestinian Authority show that 145 people, including 41 children, have been killed and 1,100 injured in bombardments of Palestinian areas since Monday. And Hamas has fired more than 2,300 rockets into Israel, killing 10 Israelis, including a child and a soldier, and wounding more than 560.