Tel Aviv, Israel, October 18: US President Joe Biden arrived in Tel Aviv on Wednesday to meet Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and show support to its Middle Eastern ally as Israel entered into the 12th day of war against the Hamas terror group.
The US President was received by PM Netanyahu and President Issac Herzog on the tarmac. The usual formalities for such a visit, such as a greeting by the full Israeli cabinet and religious leaders, etc were not observed.
The US President’s visit comes amid an explosion on a hospital in Gaza which claimed the lives of hundreds present in and near the premises.
Biden on Wednesday departed for Israel from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.
Security measures were significantly strengthened ahead of the US President’s official visit to war-torn Israel.
To ensure the safety of the US President, several roads were closed, and security personnel have been deployed in the city.
Earlier today, US National Security Council (NSC) coordinator for strategic communications, John Kirby, said that President Biden will call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ensure there is no further escalation in the ongoing war with terror group Hamas.
“When he talks to PM Netanyahu, he’ll be asking some tough questions, as a true friend of Israel. He’s also going to make it clear that we continue to want to see this conflict not expand, not deepen…He will address the humanitarian situation in Gaza, making it clear, that we want to see humanitarian assistance flow in,” Kirby said.
Sharing further details of the President’s visit to Israel, he said that Biden and PM Netanyahu will have a “very small, restricted,” bilateral meeting, adding that the former will also engage with some families that lost their loved ones in the Hamas terror attacks.
Kirby, who was on board Air Force One enroute to Israel, also brought up the explosion at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in Gaza, that has claimed several lives, saying that Israel had already denied any involvement in the explosion.
However, he said that President Biden has ordered the National Security team to get more details on the nature of the explosion and find out who was responsible.
“They (Israel) have categorically denied that they were involved in that, so I’ll let them speak to their statement on that. I wouldn’t characterize this as an investigation. He (President Biden) has directed the National Security team to gather as much information and context as possible. We all want to know how this could have happened,” Kirby added.
Meanwhile, the IDF released footage from the time of the explosion at the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, showing a failed launch by Palestinian Islamic Jihad caused the blast, rather than an Israeli airstrike.
Earlier on October 16, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel, the second time within a few days, to pledge support for the country as it prepares a major military offensive in Gaza.