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In a phone call with Netanyahu, the president reiterated his support for Israel’s right to self-defense against the rocket attacks by the militant group Hamas in Gaza and condemned the attacks in towns in Israel, according to a statement published by the White House.
“The president noted that this current period of conflict has tragically claimed the lives of Israeli and Palestinian civilians, including children,” the newspaper said. “He expressed his concerns about the safety and security of journalists and stressed the need to ensure their protection. “
Netanyahu told Biden that Israel “is doing everything to avoid harming” those who are not involved with Hamas and that “those who are not involved” have been evacuated from the 12-story building in the Gaza Strip which housed the offices of the Associated Press and Al Jazeera. Three Israeli heavy missiles collapsed the building on Saturday.
“Netanyahu thanked the president for the wholehearted support of the United States for our right to defend ourselves,” according to a reading of the appeal by Netanyahu’s office.
The president spoke with Abbas about tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank and their common interest in making Jerusalem “a place of peaceful coexistence for people of all faiths and origins.”
“The president also underlined his strong commitment to a negotiated two-state solution as the best way to achieve a just and lasting resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” according to a reading of this call.
The extraordinary conflagration in Israel and the Gaza Strip has become an urgent first test for Biden’s foreign policy. The president worked in the Oval Office for a while on Saturday. He typically works at Camp David or his home state of Delaware on weekends.
The news of the destruction of media offices sparked international outrage and shock, prompting the White House to respond ahead of the publication of Biden’s readings.
Kevin Lamarque | Reuters
The Associated Press chairman, in a statement on Saturday, said a dozen PA journalists and freelancers evacuated the building before the strike, but “terrible loss of life” was averted narrowly even with prior warning from Israel that the building would be hit.
“We are shocked and horrified that the IDF is targeting and destroying the building housing the PA office and other news agencies in Gaza,” PA President and CEO Gary Pruitt said. “They had known the location of our office for a long time and knew journalists were there. We received a warning that the building would be hit. “
“It’s an incredibly worrying development,” Pruitt said of the airstrike.
Al Jazeera’s chief executive accused Israel of trying to silence the media and condemned the airstrike as a war crime, calling on the international community to hold Israel accountable.
“The destruction of the offices of Al Jazeera and other media organizations in the al-Jalaa tower in Gaza is a gross violation of human rights and is internationally considered a war crime,” said Dr Mostefa Souag , Interim Managing Director of Al Jazeera Media Network. , in an article published on the press agency’s website.
“We call on the international community to condemn such barbaric actions and the targeting of journalists and we demand immediate international action to hold Israel accountable for its deliberate targeting of journalists and media institutions,” Souag said.
“The aim of this heinous crime is to silence the media and hide the carnage and untold suffering of the people of Gaza,” Souag said.
At least 139 people have been killed, including 39 children, in Gaza. And in Israel, eight people have been killed as the conflict escalates.
Senator Bob Menendez, DN.J., chairman of the Senate Committee on External Relations, on Saturday called in a statement for “a full account of the actions which led to the deaths of civilians and the destruction of media.”
“All political and military leaders have a responsibility to uphold the rules and laws of war and it is of the utmost importance that all actors find ways to defuse and reduce tensions,” he said. declared. “This violence must stop. “
– Reuters and Associated Press contributed reporting