President Biden is scheduled to make a wartime visit to Israel on Wednesday in a show of support for that country amid its war against Hamas, though he plans to simultaneously press for ways to ease the humanitarian strain on civilians Gaza.
Biden will also travel to Jordan, where he’ll meet with King Abdullah II, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. All three have condemned the situation in Gaza.
Biden’s itinerary was announced Monday evening as Secretary of State Antony Blinken undertook talks in Tel Aviv aiming to open Gaza to humanitarian aid amid Israel’s response to Hamas’ massive surprise attack on October 7.
The situation for civilians in Gaza is growing increasingly dire. Two days after Hamas’ initial attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a “complete seige” of Gaza, cutting off electricity, food, fuel and water in the territory. All are now reported to be in short supply.
Hundreds of thousands of Gazans in the north have fled south, which poses a risk of its own. Last week an airstrike hit a convoy of people fleeing on a road that was supposed to be a safe passage. Ambulances were also struck.
As of Tuesday morning, more than 2,800 people had been killed in Gaza and more than 12,000 injured. In Israel, 1,400 people had been killed and almost 4,000 wounded.
In an interview with CBS News’ “60 Minutes” that was broadcast Sunday, Biden urged Israel toward restraint, saying it would be a “big mistake” for its military to take occupation of Gaza. He said he believed that while the terrorist organization Hamas must be eliminated, there should also be a path to a Palestinian state in the Middle East.