President Joe Biden on Tuesday said the US will continue to stand with Israel in the wake of terrorist attacks which have now claimed the lives of 14 Americans, calling the actions by Hamas “pure, unadulterated evil”.
Mr Biden described the “sickening atrocities” committed by the Palestinian terrorist group as “sheer evil” as he recounted how more than 1,000 civilians have been “slaughtered” by the terrorists, including “parents butchered, using their bodies to try to protect their children”.
The president also referenced “stomach-turning reports”, confirmed by French media outlets, of babies being killed by beheading, and of several hundred young people being “massacred” at a music festival, with some women there being raped and paraded through the streets.
“There’s still so many families desperately waiting to hear the fate of their loved ones, not knowing if they’re alive or dead or hostages,” Mr Biden said, adding later that Hamas had threatened to execute those who’ve been taken hostage in what the president called a “violation of every code of morality”.
“It’s appalling. The brutality of Hamas, the bloodthirstiness, brings to mind the worst rampages of ISIS. This is terrorism,” he said.
He added that the Hamas attacks have also surfaced “painful memories and scars” from over a thousand years of antisemitism and genocides committed against the Jewish people.
“So in this moment, we must be crystal clear: we stand with Israel. We stand with Israel and we will make sure it has what it needs to take care of its citizens, to defend itself and respond to this attack. There’s no justification for terrorism. There’s no excuse,” he said.
Mr Biden noted that Hamas’s “stated purpose” is “the annihilation of the State of Israel and the murder of Jewish people”, not Palestinian self-determination, and said the terrorist group “offers nothing but terror and bloodshed, with no regard to who pays the price”.
The president’s remarks, which he delivered while at one point wiping tears from his eyes, came just hours after he and vice president Kamala Harris spoke with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Mr Biden said he told the prime minister that, were the US to have experienced what Israel has experienced over the last several days, the American response would be “swift, decisive and overwhelming” while adding that the two leaders had discussed the importance of acting “according to the rule of law”.
He also described how his advisers had been in “near-constant communication” with their Israeli counterparts, as well as “partners all across the region and the world” since the crisis began, and said the US has been “surging” military aid, including ammunition and replacement equipment for Israel’s Iron Dome system to ensure that Israeli forces have adequate stocks of such “critical assets” during their response to Hamas.
And while Mr Biden said his administration has been closely consulting with Congress, he said he will ask for “urgent action” to fund “national security requirements of our critical partners”, a strong signal that he intends to push for a bill to fund Israel’s defence needs as well as those of other allies such as Taiwan and Ukraine.
“This is not about party or politics, it is about the security of our world, the security of the United States of America,” he said.
Mr Biden also confirmed that Americans are among the hostages now held by Hamas and said he is directing officials to increase intelligence sharing with Israeli authorities, as well as ordering the deployment of “additional experts”, who will consult on hostage recovery efforts.
“As president, I have no higher priority than the safety of Americans being held hostage around the world,” he said.
Mr Biden added that the US has moved military assets to “strengthen deterrence”. including by deploying the USS Gerald Ford carrier strike group to the eastern Mediterranean.
“To any country, any organisation, anyone thinking of taking advantage of the situation, I have one word,” he said. “Don’t.”
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