U.S. President Joe Biden called for the destruction of Hamas in Gaza during an interview at the White House that aired Sunday on CBS news magazine “60 Minutes.”
Asked by journalist Scott Pelley if the terrorist group “must be eliminated entirely,” Biden responded in the affirmative.
“Yes, I do. But there needs to be a Palestinian authority. There needs to be a path to a Palestinian state,” the American leader said.
The president also said that Israel reoccupying Gaza would “be a big mistake.”
Israel’s ambassador to the U.N. Gilad Erdan responded to Biden’s remarks, saying that Jerusalem has “no interest” in ruling over 2 million Gazans.
The envoy also thanked Biden for his strong stance in support of Israel’s efforts to destroy Hamas.
“Thank you President Biden for recognizing what Israel has been saying since the barbaric Hamas massacre occurred: Israel’s goal is the total elimination of Hamas’ terror capabilities,” Erdan wrote on the X social media platform.
Biden in the interview supported Israel’s right to respond to the Oct. 7 cross-border attack that killed more than 1,400 people, including 29 Americans, and wounded at least 3,500.
“Look, there’s a fundamental difference. Israel is going after a group of people who have engaged in barbarism that is as consequential as the Holocaust,” Biden said.
“And so I think Israel has to respond. They have to go after Hamas. Hamas is a bunch of cowards. They’re hiding behind the civilians. They put their headquarters where civilians are and buildings and the like. … I’m confident the Israelis are going to do everything in their power to avoid the killing of innocent civilians.”
Biden also talked about efforts to rescue the 15 Americans still missing from the attack, with some of them believed to be among the at least 199 persons terrorists abducted to the Gaza Strip.
“We are going to do everything in our power to find those who are still alive and set them free … we are working like hell on that, Biden said.
The president on Friday participated in an hourlong call with 14 families of Americans missing since the Oct. 7 terrorist rampage.
“The most important thing is ending this brutality and holding those accountable,” he said.
Biden also reiterated his message to Hezbollah and its backer Iran about getting involved in the war against Israel on the northern front.