Photo by Gideon Markowicz/TPS on 13 July, 2022

Biden to Arrive in Israel for Wartime Visit

Public By David Isaac • 18 October, 2023

Jerusalem, 18 October, 2023 (TPS) -- U.S. President Joe Biden was set to arrive in Israel on Wednesday morning amid the Jewish state’s ongoing war with Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to meet the American leader at Ben-Gurion Airport, followed by talks at the Kempinski Hotel in Tel Aviv.

The president announced his wartime trip to Israel on Monday “to stand in solidarity in the face of Hamas’s brutal terrorist attack.”

The president had planned to visit Jordan to discuss “dire humanitarian needs,” referring to the situation of 2 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, but the trip was canceled in the aftermath of an explosion at a Gaza hospital which sparked widespread anti-Israel protests in the region.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the blast was caused by an errant Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket.

Biden had intended to meet Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Amman.

The president’s trip comes as Israel prepares for a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip to defeat Hamas in the wake of the terrorist group’s Oct. 7 assault on Israel, which left over 1,400 people dead and at least 4,100 wounded. Hamas also kidnapped and took back to the Gaza Strip at least 199 hostages.

Israel National Security Council Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi defined Israel’s war goals in a Monday press briefing as the destruction of Hamas “as a governing body, as a military body, as a relevant body that threatens the lives of our citizens.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who met with Israel’s war cabinet in a marathon 7.5-hour session on Monday, laid the groundwork for the presidential visit.

Blinken said the goals of Biden’s visit are to reiterate Israel’s right to defend its people from Hamas “and other terrorists,” learn more about Israeli needs in terms of war materiel, warn to other regional actors not to attack Israel and receive a comprehensive briefing on Israel’s war aims and strategy, including how Israel plans to enable the flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza.

The Secretary of State said Biden also wants to coordinate with Israel on the release of the hostages abducted by Hamas. At least 30 American citizens are known to be among the captives.

The U.S. administration is increasingly keyed in on aid to Gazans, with White House National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby telling reporters on Tuesday that the president will be asking Israel some “tough questions.”

Some Israeli reports have viewed the president’s visit cynically, with one Israeli newspaper headline calling Biden’s arrival a “bear hug,” claiming that the United States seeks, under the guise of providing assistance, to prevent Israel from taking action.

Hanegbi found it necessary to address the negative coverage. “The president comes to hug us, with a loving and kind hug, not a ‘bear hug,’ a hug for every fighter, every Israeli and every Jew,” he said.

He also noted that if a multi-front campaign develops, the president has promised U.S. involvement. “Israel will not be alone,” said Hanegbi.

However, national security analyst and commentator Caroline Glick said on Tuesday that “Israel is facing dangers from a quarter that many hadn’t anticipated … It’s actually coming from the Biden administration.”

Israel, she said, is in danger of losing “sovereign control” over its military due to U.S. interference.

During the marathon session with the war cabinet, “Blinken wasn’t trying to help Israel at all,” Glick averred, citing sources. Instead, he was forcing Israel to agree to humanitarian aid to Gaza if it wants the United States to resupply it with weapons.

Israel has been striking Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip since an October 7 assault by Hamas on Israeli communities near the Gaza border that caught Israelis off-guard. Fighting raged for days as the IDF initially struggled to clear out the terrorists. More than 1,400 Israelis were killed and over 4,100 more injured. At least 199 hostages were taken to Gaza.