Live updates on the Israel-Hamas conflict: Biden will visit Israel, raising expectations for a Gaza assistance agreement
President Joe Biden will pay a solidarity visit to Israel on Wednesday, as the country’s military prepares a ground attack against Hamas and international criticism mounts over the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.
The Gaza-Egypt border crossing remains blocked, despite claims that it will reopen to allow foreign national Palestinians to flee and aid to enter.
As Israel’s bombings continue, the situation for residents in Gaza deteriorates. Water, food, gasoline, medical supplies, and power are all scarce, and hundreds of thousands of people have fled to the south.
After a diplomatic tour in which Arab leaders urged the US to intervene on the problem, Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed the US and Israel agreed “to develop a plan” for humanitarian supplies to enter Gaza.
More than 2,800 people have been killed and over 12,000 have been wounded in Gaza. In Israel, 1,400 people have been murdered and almost 4,000 have been injured.
Lester Holt, Tom Llamas, Richard Engel, Raf Sanchez, Kelly Cobiella, Josh Lederman, Matt Bradley, Ellison Barber, Chantal Da Silva, and Alexander Smith of NBC News are covering the story.
US President Joe Biden will go to Israel on Wednesday to demonstrate his support for the country’s battle on Hamas, after Washington claimed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to allow humanitarian supplies to reach beleaguered Gazans.
After Hamas terrorists killed 1,300 people, mostly civilians, during a rampage across southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7, the worst single day in Israel’s 75-year history, Israel has threatened to eliminate the Hamas faction that governs Gaza.
Israel has blasted the Gaza Strip with air attacks, killing over 2,800 Palestinians, a quarter of whom were children, and driving over half of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents from their homes. It has put a total blockade on the enclave, causing food, fuel, and medical supplies to run short.
Hundreds of trucks carrying crucial supplies for Gaza made their way to Egypt’s Rafah gate on Tuesday, the only way into the territory not under Israeli control, but there was no guarantee they would be allowed in.
At the end of hours of negotiations with Netanyahu, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken revealed Biden’s planned visit, saying Netanyahu had agreed to establish a strategy to bring humanitarian goods to Gaza residents. He didn’t elaborate.
Biden will “hear from Israel what it needs to defend its people,” Blinken said, and also hear how Israel “will conduct its operations in a way that minimizes civilian casualties and enables humanitarian assistance to flow to civilians in Gaza in a way that does not benefit Hamas.”
Following his visit to Israel, Biden is scheduled to visit Jordan to meet with King Abdullah and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
He will also meet with Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, which has some autonomy in the Israeli-occupied West Bank but lost control of Gaza to Hamas in 2007.
The Palestinian Authority’s Foreign Ministry accused Israel of genocide and ethnic cleansing in Gaza on Tuesday, and denounced air attacks on medical facilities, hospitals, journalists, and schools.
In Jabalia, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip that Israel has ordered evacuated, anxious people were lifting chunks of concrete and metal with their own hands, screaming out as they discovered victims under rubble in a big, smouldering bombing hole. Others fled with stretchers carrying injured people.
A guy emerged from the ruins of a building, clutching the lifeless body of a tiny kid in his arms, which was coated in chalky soot.
Residents fleeing the north have poured into southern communities like as Khan Younis, but there has been little relief from bombardment.
Amin Hneideq awakened in Khan Younis to a loud explosion that drove the window tumbling down, lacerating his daughter’s skull. The bomb had missed his house, but it had demolished an adjacent home, killing a family from the north who had taken refuge there.
“They brought them from the north just to strike them in the south,” said Hneideq, weeping.
The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said only around 14 percent of Gazans had access to water through a single pipe to Khan Younis that Israel allowed to open for three hours on Monday.
“Concerns over dehydration and waterborne diseases are high given the collapse of water and sanitation services, including today’s shutdown of Gaza’s last functioning seawater desalination plant,” UNRWA said in a statement.
“People will start dying without water.”
During the terrorists’ invasion last week, Israel claims 199 hostages were carried to Gaza. Overnight, Hamas published a video of a French-Israeli hostage, Maya Schem, pleading with international leaders to assist her and other detainees in returning home.
The movie was dubbed “psychological terror against Israeli citizens” by Israel’s military. At a news conference, Schem’s mother said she was “begging the world to bring my baby back home.”
In addition to attempting to bring assistance through the Rafah border, Washington wants it open to allow Gazans with foreign passports, including hundreds of Palestinian Americans, to leave. Some Gazans with mixed nationality attempted to reach Rafah on Tuesday but were unable due to Israeli air strikes.
Even if the gate opens, the vast majority of Gazans will not be allowed to leave. Egypt has stated that it will allow medical evacuations but will not allow a mass exodus, which would amount to an unacceptable displacement of Palestinians from their homeland.
According to US sources, Israel is anxious that any supplies let into Gaza would be used to support Hamas, and it is developing a plan to guarantee that any deliveries are watched and controlled. A senior US source said Biden’s newly designated envoy for Middle East humanitarian matters, David Satterfield, will meet with Israelis on Tuesday to begin hammering out specifics.
CRISIS IN THE NORTH OF ISRAEL
Cross-border violence has risen on a second front on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, as Israel prepares for an expected ground invasion of Gaza to clear out Hamas. Clashes there have been the bloodiest since a million Lebanese were uprooted during the last full-fledged conflict between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militia 17 years ago.
On Tuesday, the Israeli military announced it had killed four persons who had attempted to enter the border to lay bombs. On Monday, Israel ordered the evacuation of 28 towns in a 2-kilometer-deep (1.2-mile) zone near the Lebanese border.
Iran, which backs both Hamas and Hezbollah, has hailed the Hamas strikes on Israel while denying any involvement.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told state TV that “preemptive action” would be taken against Israel in the coming hours.
“All options are open and we cannot be indifferent to the war crimes committed against the people of Gaza,” Amirabdollahian said. “The resistance front is capable of waging a long-term war with the enemy.”
Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told a group of students: “No one can confront Muslims and the resistance forces if the Zionist regime’s crimes against Palestinians continue.”
Netanyahu told parliament on Monday he had “a message for Iran and Hezbollah: don’t test us in the north. Don’t make the same mistake you once made. Because today the price you will pay will be much heavier.”
(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Bassam Massoud and Nuha Sharaf in Gaza, Ari Rabinovitch, Dan Williams, Henriette Chacar, Dedi Hayun, Maayan Lubell, Emily Rose, James Mackenzie and John Davison in Jerusalem, Humeyra Pamuk in Tel Avivi, Parisa Hafezi in Dubai, Hatem Maher, Ahmed Tolba and Omar Abdel-Razek in Cairo, Trevor Hunnicutt, Nandita Bose, Rami Ayyub and Katharine Jackson in Washington, Michelle Nichols at the United NationsWriting by David Brunnstrom, Stephen Coates and Peter Graff; Editing by Nick Macfie, Alexandra Hudson)