With the death toll rising in the fighting between Israel and Gaza, President Joe Biden made a call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urging him to enact a ceasefire.
Palestinians from Hamas have launched about 3,500 rockets at Israel while the IDF has responded with massive airstrikes that have targeted Hamas military officials and infrastructure.
His call to Netanyahu was the second this week. It was followed by a carefully worded statement, released by the White House on Monday.
President Biden “encouraged Israel to make every effort to ensure the protection of innocent civilians,” the White House said in its statement.
While the president urged a ceasefire to stop the bloodshed, he remains steadfast in supporting that Israel has the right to defend itself. Meanwhile, Netanyahu said to his security officials that Israel would “continue to strike terror targets” in Gaza “as long as necessary in order to return calm and security to all Israeli citizens.”
The Conflict Has Created Ripples in US Politics
The U.S. blocked another UN Security Council statement on Monday that would have expressed “grave concern” over the increasing Israeli-Palestinian violence and the loss of civilian life on both sides. This was the third time Washington has blocked the 15-member Security Council from reaching what would have been a unanimous decision on the subject.
Biden is getting more and more pressure from Democratic Congress members to react forcefully to the violence in the region. Rep. Cori Bush, (D-MO), tried to paint the Palestinians in the same light as black Americans.
“We oppose our money going to fund militarized policing, occupation, and systems of violent oppression and trauma,” Rep. Bush posted on Twitter.
Ilhan Omar (D-MN), a vocal critic of Israel, posted on Twitter after Biden spoke with Netanyahu. “Finally!! Our delay in supporting a ceasefire has caused the slaughter of children and destruction of lives. Now Biden has to push for an end to the occupation.”
But Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY), slammed Democrats for not supporting the U.S.’s traditional ally.
“The United States needs to stand foursquare behind our ally, and President Biden must remain strong against the growing voices within his own party that create false equivalence between terrorist aggressors and a responsible state defending itself.”
The Violence Continues
Meanwhile, the violence shows no signs of abating. The Jerusalem Post reported on early Tuesday morning that Hamas had launched another 90 rockets from Gaza at Israel. Dozens were intercepted by the Israeli “Iron Dome” air defense systems. However, one rocket passed through their defenses and directly hit a house located in the Sha’ar Negev Regional Council.
The IDF stated that it has targeted and destroyed nine rocket launcher sites in Gaza since Tuesday morning.
A video of an Israeli airstrike on a Hamas rocket launcher can be seen here.
The Israelis have also targeted the homes of 12 Hamas leaders including “the deputy commander for the northern brigade in Gaza City,” the IDF said in a statement. Israel claims that Hamas leaders use their homes for command and control operations centers.
The Israelis have also shelled Lebanon after a Palestinian group located within Lebanese territory fired six rockets at Israel. Yet, none of the rockets made it to Israeli territory, falling short and landing in Lebanon.
The IDF conducted dozens of airstrikes hitting targets in Gaza early on Tuesday including more high-rise buildings.
Biden Will Have To Walk a Fine Line on Israel
Although progressive Democrats are going to force the issue with the president, many Democrats believe that their party is still mostly pro-Israel. But many of the newer members of the Democratic Party are voicing their pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel rhetoric. President Biden will have to walk a carefully worded path.