Biden warns Israel risks losing support over ‘indiscriminate’ Gaza bombing

US president offers his sharpest public criticism of Israel since the start of its war with Hamas.

U.S. President Joe Biden, left, meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to discuss the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas,
Joe Biden, left, meets with Benjamin Netanyahu, right, to discuss the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas [File: Miriam Alster/Pool via Reuters]

US President Joe Biden has warned that Israel risks losing international support over its “indiscriminate bombing” of civilians in its war against Hamas in the besieged Gaza Strip.

“Israel’s security can rest on the United States, but right now it has more than the United States. It has the European Union, it has Europe, it has most of the world supporting them,” Biden said to donors during a fundraiser on Tuesday.

“They’re starting to lose that support by indiscriminate bombing that takes place,” Biden said.

More than 18,000 people have been killed and nearly 50,000 others wounded in the Israeli assault on Gaza since October 7, according to the Palestinian health officials. Many more dead are uncounted under the rubble or beyond the reach of ambulances.

Israel launched its onslaught in response to a raid by Hamas fighters from Gaza who killed about 1,200 people and took 240 others captive in southern Israel, according to Israeli authorities.

Speaking at a political fundraiser, Biden also criticised the Israeli cabinet.

“This is the most conservative government in Israel’s history,” the president said. “He [Netanyahu] has to change this government. This government in Israel is making it very difficult.”

He also said that Israel “can’t say no” to a Palestinian state, which Israeli hardliners, including in Netanyahu’s government, have opposed.

Biden’s sharp comments coincided with White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan preparing to travel to Israel for talks with the Israeli war cabinet.

Netanyahu said in a statement on Tuesday that Israel had received “full backing” from the US for its ground offensive on Gaza and that Washington had blocked “international pressure to stop the war.”

“There is disagreement about ‘the day after Hamas’ and I hope that we will reach agreement here as well,” he added.

Washington has said it envisions an eventual return by the Palestinian Authority to Gaza, which Hamas seized from the West Bank-based body in 2007.

UNGA expected to call for ceasefire

The comments came before the UN General Assembly was expected to vote on a call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, after the US vetoed a draft resolution in the Security Council last week.

In October the General Assembly had called for “an immediate, durable and sustained humanitarian truce leading to a cessation of hostilities” in a resolution adopted with 121 votes in favour, 14 against – including the US – and 44 abstentions.

Some diplomats predict the resolution on Tuesday would garner greater support than the previous motion.

“The US is looking more and more isolated on the international arena and that is not a good place for the United Nations and President Biden to be,” Salman Shaikh, a policy adviser at The Shaikh Group told Al Jazeera.

Canada, Australia and New Zealand issued support for a ceasefire in Gaza in a joint statement on Tuesday.

In Gaza, Israeli shelling targeted both a hospital and an UNWRA school in northern Gaza. In Khan Younis, southern Gaza’s main city, residents said Israeli tank shelling was now focused on the city centre.

United Nations human rights chief Volker Turk described the situation in Gaza as “well beyond breakdown”, and another UN agency said that 18 percent of Gaza’s infrastructure had been destroyed since the war began.

“If you look at the humanitarian situation at the moment, it is so precarious … extremely precarious,” Turk said. “It’s on the verge of well beyond breakdown.”

The UN’s satellite analysis agency UNOSAT examined high-resolution satellite images to determine that nearly 40,000 buildings have been destroyed in the besieged enclave, with 80 percent of the damage in northern Gaza.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies