Biden compares Hamas attack to 'fifteen 9-11s'

Biden compares Hamas attack to ‘fifteen 9/11s’: President says US will stand by Israel, urges them not be ‘consumed by rage’ and announces $100M in aid to Gaza and the West Bank in Tel Aviv speech

  • President Joe Biden wrapped up a visit to Israel on Wednesday afternoon
  • He made clear that Israel could rely on the U.S. for support and arms
  • But he offered a lesson from 9/11, saying that the U.S. had made mistakes 

President Joe Biden warned Israel not to become consumed with rage even as he promised that the U.S. stood with Israelis and their demand for justice after suffering a slaughter equivalent to fifteen 9/11s.

He delivered a speech laden with anger at the end of a day in Tel Aviv meeting Israeli leaders and victims of the Hamas terror attack.

‘We’ve seen it described as Israel’s 9/11,’ said Biden. ‘For a nation the size of Israel it was like fifteen 9/11s.

‘The scale may be different, but I’m sure those horrors have tapped in to sow some kind of primal feeling in Israel just like it did in America: Shock pain, rage … an all-consuming rage.’

The words were part of day’s main message: Biden’s commitment to stand with Israel after 1300 people were murdered by Hamas gunmen. 

Joe Biden warned Israel not to become consumed with rage even as he promised that the U.S. stood with Israelis after suffering a slaughter equivalent to 15 9/11s

Bodies of victims of the al-Ahli hospital strike are seen being lined up in a courtyard on Tuesday

However, his trip was overshadowed by a blame game over who was responsible for an explosion that killed 500 people at a Gaza hospital.

The fallout meant plans for a summit of Arab leaders in Jordan were abandoned, undermining some of the goals of Biden’s trip. 

Instead he used his speech in Tel Aviv to reiterate U.S. support for an eventual Palestinian state and announce $100 million in aid for Gaza and the West Bank.

He also warned Israel against letting fury guide its response.

‘You can’t look at what has happened here to mothers and fathers, grandparents, sons, daughters, children, even babies and not scream out for justice,’ he said.

‘Justice must be done.

‘But I caution this: While you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. 

‘While we sought justice and got justice we also made mistakes.’

President Joe Biden is greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he arrives on Israeli soil on Wednesday morning. He finds himself at the heart of a growing storm

President Joe Biden shakes hands with Dr. Jordanna Hadas Koppel during a meeting with Israeli first responders, family members and other citizens directly impacted by the October 7th attack on Israel by Hamas, in Tel Aviv

The U.S. is ramping up its forces in the Middle East with two aircraft carrier strike groups

His words reflected a delicate balancing act. While he offered full-throated support for Israel as it prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza, U.S. officials know that spiraling civilian casualties would play into the hands of groups like Hamas, and their Iranian sponsors, who want to foment a wider conflict.

But he promised to keep Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system fully supplied. 

‘My administration has been in close touch with your leadership from the first moments of this attack. We’re going to make sure you have what you have what you need to protect your people, to defend your nation,’ he said.

‘For decades. we’ve ensured Israel’s qualitative military edge and later this week I’m going to ask the United States Congress for unprecedented support package for Israel’s defense.’

He arrived at a moment of huge tension in the Middle East.

Israel has been on a war footing ever since thousands of Hamas gunmen poured out of Gaza and launched a wave of murder on October 7. It has kept up a steady bombardment of Gaza as it prepares for a likely ground invasion.

But protests at Israeli actions have surged as the death toll has increased.

They exploded on Tuesday night when a blast ripped through al-Ahli hospital killing about 500 people. Protesters outside the U.S. embassy had to be beaten back with tear gas.

Israel insists the explosion was caused by a misfiring rocket launched by Islamic Jihad. Biden said he had seen data to support Israeli claims of innocence.

At the same time, the Iranian proxy militia Hezbollah has kept up rocket fire along the northern Israeli border with Lebanon — a reminder of how regional players may seek to ignite a broader war.  

Biden’s mission was to stand with Israel while also trying to deter outside actors from ramping up tensions as well easing hardship within Gaza.

He said he discussed with Israel’s cabinet the need to allow aid in, on condition it was going to civilians and not going to Hamas.

‘Israel agreed that humanitarian assistance can begin to move from Egypt to Gaza,’ he said.

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