President Biden on Wednesday lamented what he called a “campaign of pure cruelty” that left more than 1,000 Israelis dead following terrorist attacks by Hamas as he met with Jewish leaders at the White House.
Biden delivered remarks to more than a dozen Jewish community leaders, along with some of his senior advisers, five days after Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, launched terrorist attacks against Israel.
The president spoke of the barbarity of the attacks that have left women and children dead, and he described his recent conversations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in which Biden urged Israel to abide by the rules of war during any ensuing military action.
“This attack was a campaign of pure cruelty. Not just hate but pure cruelty against the Jewish people, and I would argue it’s the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust,” Biden said.
Biden, who a day earlier called the attacks “abhorrent,” described seeing pictures of terrorists beheading children and remarked on the importance of speaking out against the recent attacks, and antisemitism more broadly.
The president said his administration has surged assistance to the Israel Defense Forces, including ammunition and interceptors for the Iron Dome defense system. The U.S. has moved a carrier fleet to the eastern Mediterranean and is sending more fighter jets to the region, as well.
The U.S. has “made it clear to the Iranians to be careful,” Biden said.
The president also acknowledged his administration is working on bringing home a small number of Americans who are being held hostage by Hamas in the wake of the terrorist attacks. But he refused to divulge details, suggesting doing so would make it more difficult to secure their release.
At least 22 Americans were among those who were killed in the Israel-Hamas fighting in recent days. Hundreds of Palestinians were also killed amid ensuing strikes in Gaza.
As Israel prepares to hit back at Hamas and experts warn of the potential for an expanded conflict in the region, Biden said he had spoken to Netanyahu and urged him to abide by the rules of war.
“I’ve known Bibi for over 40 years. A very frank relationship. I know him well. And the one thing that I did say, that it is really important, that Israel, with all the anger and frustration and just — I don’t know how to explain it — that exists, is that they operate by the rules of war,” Biden said.
“And there are rules of war,” he continued. “And I believe Israel is doing everything in its power to pull the country together, stay on the same page, and we’re going to do everything in our power to make sure Israel can succeed and, God willing, to bring home those Americans who are in harm’s way.”
Biden was joined at Wednesday’s meeting by second gentleman Doug Emhoff, who is Jewish and who has led the administration’s efforts to combat antisemitism.
Emhoff said he feels a “deep, visceral connection to Israel and its people,” and he grew emotional as he spoke about the recent terrorist attacks, slamming his fist on the lectern as he spoke.
“We witnessed a mass murder of innocent civilians. It was a terrorist assault,” Emhoff said. “And there is never any justification for terrorism. There are no two sides to this issue. The images we saw will be seared in our brains forever.”
Source: The Hill