President Biden called for an investigation Sunday into recent hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip as he offered his support for a ceasefire announced earlier in the day.
The truce between the Israelis and the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad group was negotiated by Egyptian officials, who said both sides agreed to the ceasefire following roughly three days of fighting.
“The reports of civilian casualties in Gaza are a tragedy, whether by Israeli strikes against Islamic Jihad positions or the dozens of Islamic Jihad rockets that reportedly fell inside Gaza,” Biden said in a statement.
“My administration supports a timely and thorough investigation into all of these reports, and we also call on all parties to fully implement the ceasefire, and to ensure fuel and humanitarian supplies are flowing into Gaza as the fighting subsides,” he said.
Tensions rose throughout the week after Israeli forces on Monday arrested Bassam al-Saadi, an Islamic Jihad leader, in Jenin, which is located in the West Bank.
Israel later sent reinforcements to the border with Gaza and closed border crossings, which interrupted the flow of supplies like fuel.
Israeli forces conducted airstrikes to eliminate what they described as an “imminent threat” on Friday, assassinating an Islamic Jihad military leader in Gaza and at least nine others.
The airstrike prompted retalitory strikes from the Islamic Jihad, the smaller of two militant groups in Gaza. Hamas, the larger group that rules day-to-day affairs of the territory and engaged in a deadly 11-day war with Israel last year, has largely stayed out of the recent fighting.
On Saturday, Israel said it struck a second Islamic Jihad military leader.
“My support for Israel’s security is long-standing and unwavering—including its right to defend itself against attacks,” Biden said.
“Over these recent days, Israel has defended its people from indiscriminate rocket attacks launched by the terrorist group Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the United States is proud of our support for Israel’s Iron-Dome, which intercepted hundreds of rockets and saved countless lives,” he said.
The violence that erupted on Friday night has killed 43 Palestinians, including 15 children and four women. Israeli officials said many in the country were also injured.
Biden visited Israel and the West Bank last month, where he said the U.S. would “not give up” its support for a two-state solution to the conflict while meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Source: The Hill