U.S. President Joe Biden asked Americans to spend billions more dollars to help Israel fight Hamas while Israel’s defense chief told his troops to be ready to go into the Gaza Strip to destroy the Palestinian militant group.
“We can’t ignore the humanity of innocent Palestinians who only want to live in peace and have opportunity,” said Biden, who visited Israel on Wednesday.
Israel appeared to be getting closer to a full-scale invasion of Gaza, a densely populated enclave ruled by Hamas. The Israeli military has massed troops and equipment near the Gaza border.
Biden said he would ask Congress on Friday to approve extra funding for “critical partner” Israel. A person familiar with the matter earlier said that would total $14 billion.
“It’s a smart investment that’s gonna pay dividends for American security for generations,” Biden added.
Israel has pounded Gaza with air strikes after Hamas gunmen rampaged through Israeli towns and kibbutzes on Oct. 7, killing 1,400 Israelis and taking scores of hostages.
and put the enclave’s 2.3 million people under siege.
Some 3,500 people in Gaza have been killed and more than a million have been made homeless, according to Palestinian health officials. Israel has also imposed a siege on Gaza, and civilians say their situation is desperate as they run short of food, water, fuel, and medical supplies.
During an eight-hour visit to Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Biden sought to broker a deal to get aid into Gaza but had only limited success.
He said Israel and Egypt agreed that 20 trucks with relief supplies could cross into the enclave. Two Egyptian security sources said the equipment was sent on Thursday through its border crossing to repair roads on the Gaza side. More than 100 trucks were waiting in Egypt.
The crossing has been out of operation amid Israeli bombardments on the Palestinian side of the border.
There have been repeated delays and obstacles, and Israel has demanded assurances that relief supplies could not be commandeered by Hamas militants.
The United Nations has called for aid to return to pre-conflict levels of 100 trucks a day. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres planned to visit the Rafah border crossing from Egypt to Gaza on Friday.
(Inputs from REUTERS)