Israel-Hamas war live updates: Biden to address U.S. in Oval Office speech

U.S. response faces scrutiny amid growing concern over Gaza death toll

Biden meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Wednesday. (Miriam Alster/Pool via AP)

Yahoo News reports:

President Biden is attempting to balance his administration’s support of Israel with growing concerns about the safety of civilians in the Gaza Strip as violence in the region continues to escalate.

Biden visited Israel on Wednesday and was set to hold a meeting with Arab leaders in Jordan. The meeting was postponed, however, after an explosion at Al-Ahli Hospital in Gaza killed hundreds of Palestinian patients and refugees. While authorities in Gaza said an Israeli air strike caused the explosion, Israeli authorities said it was caused by a failed rocket launched by Hamas. Meanwhile in Washington, Arab American groups and some Biden administration staff members have expressed frustration with the White House’s approach to the conflict.

Hours after the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in southern Israel, which left more than 1,400 dead including at least 31 U.S. citizens, Biden asserted support for Israel, saying the “United States stands with the people of Israel in the face of these terrorist assaults. Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. Full stop.” Biden echoed those remarks in the ensuing days and, at an event with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday in Tel Aviv, said, “We will continue to have Israel’s back as you work to defend your people.”

Biden’s initial response to the attacks was praised by many Democrats and Republicans alike. According to a new Yahoo News/YouGov poll, 52% of Democrats say Biden’s response to the situation has been “about right,” with just 15% saying it has been “too pro-Israel.” (41% of Republicans said the president’s response has “not been pro-Israel” enough.) Overall, 67% of Americans now consider “helping to protect Israel” to be an important goal for “U.S. policy towards the Middle East,” up 12 points from 55% in May 2021.

However, the White House has also faced increasing scrutiny for its handling of the crisis from a range of groups, including progressive lawmakers and Arab American leaders. More than 3,300 deaths have been reported in Gaza since Israel began their retaliatory strikes more than a week ago.

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