During a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Joe Biden expressed his “support” for a cease-fire in the rapidly escalating conflict between Israeli military forces and Hamas operatives in the Gaza Strip.
A statement released by the White House said that during the call, the president “expressed his support for a ceasefire” in the hostilities and “discussed U.S. engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end.”
Biden echoed the same sentiment in a call conducted with Netanyahu last week in affirming Israel’s right to defend itself against “indiscriminate” enemy rocket fire.
The president also voiced his desire for stability and “calm” to be returned to Jerusalem amid the ongoing unrest between Arab and Jewish citizens, according to the statement. He encouraged Israel to “ensure the protection of innocent civilians” in conducting its military actions.
“The two leaders discussed progress in Israel’s military operations against Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza,” the statement continued.
Biden and Netanyahu agreed to remain in close contact as the situation continues to unfold, the statement indicated.
Within the past week, Israel’s anti-missile system, called the Iron Dome, has intercepted thousands of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip, a number of which have targeted schools and urban civilian centers in Israel. Emergency alarms have sounded as incoming attacks are detected, warning Israeli citizens to retreat to bomb shelters immediately or risk perishing in an explosion if the defense shield fails to stop a rocket’s entry.
Israel has responded with retaliatory air strikes on the terrorist leadership infrastructure and weapons-stockpile locations, killing a few high-profile Hamas commanders. The Israeli Defense Forces also stationed at least three brigades of ground troops on the Gaza border Thursday evening before unleashing a chain of artillery and aerial bombardment attacks targeting Hamas tunnels used for shelter and transporting materials. Both sides have reported civilian casualties.