update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

‘Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians,’ Biden says

The U.S. president stated that he is "outraged and heartbroken" by the deaths of seven aid workers in Gaza.

U.S President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.
U.S President Joe Biden in Tel Aviv, Oct. 18, 2023. Photo by Miriam Alster/Flash90.

U.S. President Joe Biden stated on Tuesday night that the deaths of seven World Central Kitchen aid workers, including an American, in Gaza on Monday “is not a stand-alone incident.”

“This conflict has been one of the worst in recent memory in terms of how many aid workers have been killed. This is a major reason why distributing humanitarian aid in Gaza has been so difficult—because Israel has not done enough to protect aid workers trying to deliver desperately needed help to civilians,” Biden stated. 

“Incidents like yesterday’s simply should not happen. Israel has also not done enough to protect civilians,” he added. “The United States has repeatedly urged Israel to deconflict their military operations against Hamas with humanitarian operations, in order to avoid civilian casualties.”

Biden noted that Israel is investigating the airstrike. “That investigation must be swift, it must bring accountability, and its findings must be made public,” the president said.

He added that he will “continue to press Israel to do more to facilitate” humanitarian aid in Gaza.

“We are pushing hard for an immediate ceasefire as part of a hostage deal,” Biden said. “I have a team in Cairo working on this right now.”

Matt Brooks, CEO of the Republican Jewish Coalition, stated that the deaths of the aid workers “is a tragedy, which appears to have been a terrible mistake.”

“Israel has responded as a professional military should when it makes a mistake: accept responsibility, transparently investigate the causes, adjust its practices and potentially discipline those who made a reckless error,” Brooks stated.

“Mister President, let’s be clear: 1. Hamas is the party that intentionally and indiscriminately targets civilians in Israel and in Gaza, and 2. Based on everything we know, Israel has done more in this war to prevent civilian casualties than any military in modern history, including our own,” Brooks added.

“When the U.S. military botched an airstrike in Kabul killing 10 civilians, on Joe Biden’s watch in 2021, he dismissed criticism, offered no apology and went to the beach for the weekend,” Brooks said. “Needless to say, Israel issued no statements of condemnation. That’s not how you treat an ally—unless you’re Joe Biden and the Democrats.”

John Kirby, the White House national security communications advisor, said of Biden’s statement during a Wednesday press call that “I think you could sense the frustration in that statement yesterday.”

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