A Palestinian Civil Defense member walks among the rubble of a building in Gaza city where the Intaj Bank was located, connected to the Hamas movement that controls the Gaza Strip, on May 15, 2021.
Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty Images
President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday as violence in Israel and the Gaza Strip escalated without any sign that it would end anytime soon.
Separately, after his phone call with Biden, Netanyahu suggested on television late Saturday local time that Israel’s operation will continue until it achieves its goals.
“Our goal is to send a message to Hamas that it is not worth sending missiles next time,” he said. “We will deal with them and no one should take the law into their own hands.”
During a telephone conversation with Netanyahu, Biden reiterated his support for Israel’s right to self-defense against rocket attacks by the Hamas militant group in Gaza and condemned attacks in towns and cities in Israel, according to a White House lecture.
“The president noted that this current period of conflict has tragically claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children,” the reading said. “He expressed concern about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection.”
Netanyahu told Biden that Israel is “doing everything it can to prevent harm to those not involved in Hamas and that” those not involved “were evacuated from the 12-story building in the Gaza Strip that houses The Associated’s offices. Press and Al Jazeera Three Israeli heavy missiles collapsed the building on Saturday.
The president also spoke with Abbas about tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank and their shared interest in making Jerusalem “a place of peaceful coexistence for people of all religions and backgrounds.”
“The president also underlined his strong commitment to a negotiated two-state solution as the best way to achieve a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” said a reading from that call.
The extraordinary fire in Israel and the Gaza Strip has evolved into an urgent early test for Biden’s foreign policy. The president worked in the Oval Office for a while on Saturday. He usually works on weekends from Camp David or his home state of Delaware.
The news that media offices were being destroyed caused international outrage and shock, prompting the White House to respond before the Biden readings were released.
US President Joe Biden speaks about the response to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the vaccination program at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, May 13, 2021.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
The Biden administration has “communicated directly to Israelis that ensuring the safety and security of journalists and independent media is a primary responsibility,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki wrote in a tweet on Saturday.
The president of the Associated Press said in a statement Saturday that a dozen AP journalists and freelancers had evacuated the building before the strike, but a “terrible loss of life” was narrowly avoided, even with Israel’s warning that the building would be closed. hit.
“We are shocked and shocked that the Israeli military would attack and destroy the building that houses the office of AP and other news organizations in Gaza,” said Gary Pruitt, AP’s president and CEO. ‘They had known the location of our office for a long time and knew there were journalists. We got a warning that the building would be hit. ‘
“This is an incredibly disturbing development,” Pruitt said of the air strike.
The director general of Al Jazeera accused Israel of silencing the media and condemned the airstrike as a war crime, and called on the international community to hold Israel to account.
“The destruction of the offices of Al Jazeera and those of other media organizations in the al-Jalaa Tower in Gaza is a blatant human rights violation and is regarded internationally as a war crime,” said Dr. Mostefa Souag, Acting Director General of Al Jazeera Media Network. , in an article on the website of the news agency.
“We call on the international community to condemn such barbaric actions and attacks against journalists and we demand immediate international action to hold Israel accountable for deliberately attacking journalists and the media institutions,” Souag said.
“The purpose of this heinous crime is to silence the media and hide the untold carnage and suffering of the people of Gaza,” Souag said.
At least 139 people have been murdered in Gaza, including 39 children. And in Israel, eight people died as the conflict escalated.
Senator Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called in a statement on Saturday for a “full account of the actions that led to civilian deaths and destruction of media outlets.”
“All political and military leaders have a responsibility to uphold the rules and laws of war and it is paramount for all actors to find ways to reduce de-escalation and ease tensions,” he said. “This violence must end.”
– Reuters and Associated Press contributed to reporting