President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a call on Wednesday morning that he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire.” Shortly after, Netanyahu released a public statement vowing to continue the strikes on Hamas terrorists.
“I am determined to continue this operation until its objective is achieved: to restore calm and security to you, the citizens of Israel,” Netanyahu said in a public announcement to Israelis.
“This is Israel’s natural right,” he continued. “I especially appreciate the support of the President of the United States, our friend Joe Biden, for the right of self-defense of the State of Israel.”
Netanyahu added that Israel’s daily strikes on terrorist targets reduces their capabilities by taking out weapons and commanders.
The U.S. has consistently expressed its support for Israel’s defensive actions, while making open calls for peace.
Also in a call on Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Israeli Minister of Defense Benjamin “Benny” Gantz to emphasize “his continued support for Israel’s right to defend itself, reviewed assessments of Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, and urged de-escalation of the conflict.”
IDF continued its retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza on Wednesday following nine straight nights of rocket fire from Hamas.
The latest conflict began May 10 when Gaza fired rockets at Jerusalem after clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters at a sacred site, the Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters Thursday that there are “fundamental differences between a terrorist organization, Hamas, that is indiscriminately raining down rockets — in fact, targeting civilians — and Israel’s response defending itself, that is targeting the terrorists.”
It has also repeatedly said that Hamas “deliberately hides military targets in residential buildings and civilian areas,” and “endangers its own civilians.”
Israel came under fire for an airstrike on Saturday that destroyed a 12-story building housing Hamas offices, along with the offices of media outlets Associated Press and Al Jazeera, despite giving civilians time to evacuate before the strike.
The AP said, “We have had no indication Hamas was in the building or active in the building.”
However, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday that Israel provided secret proof to justify the strike, but he couldn’t share what that was.
“We did seek further information from Israel on this question. It’s my understanding that we’ve received some further information through intelligence channels, and that’s not something that I can comment on,” Blinken said.
A senior Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officer told reporters on Wednesday that the building was targeted for housing the “electronic department of the military wing of Hamas,” CNN national security correspondent Kyle Atwood tweeted.