President Biden on Wednesday announced he had come to an agreement with Israel’s cabinet on the “delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to civilians in Gaza.”
Speaking from Tel Aviv, where he’d held a bilateral meeting earlier int he day with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden said, “The United States unequivocally stands for the protection of civilian life during conflict, and I grieve, I truly grieve, for the families who were killed or wounded by this tragedy.”
Noting that the people of Gaza need food, water, medicine and shelter, Biden stated that the humanitarian aid agreement with Israel is “based on the understanding that there will be inspections, and that the aid should go to civilians, not to Hamas.”
The aid was set to move from Egypt to Gaza. Biden said the U.S. was working with Egypt, the United Nations and its relief agencies like the World Food Program and other partners in the region to get trucks moving across the border as soon as possible.
“Let me be clear,” Biden warned, “if Hamas diverts the assistance, they will have demonstrated once again that they have no concern for the welfare of the Palestinian people,” and as a practical matter, such an act would “stop the international community for being able to provide this aid.”
Further, Biden stated that the international Red Cross’ demand that it be able to visit the hostages being held captive by Hamas was “a just demand that the United States fully supports.”
Biden also announced $100 million in U.S. funding for humanitarian assistance in both Gaza and the West Bank. “This money will support more than 1 million displaced and conflict-affected Palestinians, including emergency needs in Gaza,” he said.
The President spoke from Israel after he had been compelled to cancel a follow-up trip to Jordan, where he was set to meet with the leaders of Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority, amid questions surrounding an explosion Tuesday at a hospital in Gaza City that killed hundreds of civilians.
While Hamas and Israel both blamed the other side of the conflict, on Wednesday morning multiple news outlets were quoting sources who said an independent U.S. assessment pointed to a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket having hit the Gaza hospital.
Earlier on Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury Department also announced new sanctions against a group of 10 members of Hamas, as well as the terrorist organization’s financial network across Gaza, Sudan, Turkey, Algeria and Qatar.
“What sets us apart from the terrorists is, we believe in the fundamental dignity of human life—Israeli, Palestinian, Arab, Jew, Muslim, Christian, everyone,” Biden asserted, referring to democracies like Israel and the U.S. “You can’t give up what makes you who you are. If you give that up, then the terrorists win, and we can never let them win.”