U.S. President Joe Biden called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, emphasizing that Washington stands alongside Jerusalem and fully supports the Jewish state’s right to self defense in the wake of the deadly Hamas attack from Gaza.
“The United States unequivocally condemns this appalling assault against Israel by Hamas terrorists from Gaza, and I made clear to Prime Minister Netanyahu that we stand ready to offer all appropriate means of support to the Government and people of Israel. Terrorism is never justified. Israel has a right to defend itself and its people,” Biden said in a written statement after the call. “The United States warns against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation. My Administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.”
Netanyahu thanked the U.S. president for the unreserved support and made it clear that a “forceful, prolonged campaign” is necessary, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
“We unequivocally condemn the appalling attacks by Hamas terrorists against Israel,” tweeted Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “We stand in solidarity with the people of Israel and extend our condolences for the Israeli lives lost in these attacks.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the Pentagon would work “to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians from indiscriminate violence and terrorism.
“Our commitment to Israel’s right to defend itself remains unwavering, and I extend my condolences to the families of those who lost their lives in this abhorrent attack on civilians,” he said.
Earlier, acting U.S. Ambassador in Jerusalem Stephanie Hallett said she was “sickened by the images coming out of southern Israel of dead and wounded civilians at the hands of terrorists from Gaza. The United States stands with Israel.”
She added, “I condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire by Hamas terrorists against Israeli civilians. I am in contact with Israeli officials, and fully support Israel’s right to defend itself from such terrorist acts.”
Hamas killed more than 250 Israelis on Saturday in a massive offensive launched from the Gaza Strip, including firing more than 3,000 rockets and sending dozens of Palestinian terrorists to infiltrate the Jewish state.
Hamas claimed to be holding 53 Israelis hostage in Gaza.
More than 1,500 Israelis were evacuated to hospitals across the country, the largest number to Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva and many to Barzilai Medical Center in Ashkelon.
Netanyahu convened the Security Cabinet at the Kirya military headquarters in Tel Aviv.
“Since this morning, the State of Israel has been at war. Our first objective is to clear out the hostile forces that infiltrated our territory and restore the security and quiet to the communities that have been attacked,” said Netanyahu at the start of the meeting.
“The second objective, at the same time, is to exact an immense price from the enemy, within the Gaza Strip as well. The third objective is to reinforce other fronts so that nobody should mistakenly join this war,” he continued.
“We are at war. In war, one needs to be level-headed. I call on all citizens of Israel to unite in order to achieve our highest goal—victory in the war,” added the premier.
Netanyahu also spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Both leaders expressed full support for Israel’s right to defend itself, Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.