U.S. President Joe Biden has accepted an invitation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Biden will travel to the Middle East on Wednesday. During the extraordinary wartime visit, the president will demonstrate staunch support for the U.S. ally as it works to eliminate Hamas. Biden will further press for efforts to ease humanitarian suffering in Gaza, which is now under siege.
Biden’s visit comes after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Israel on Monday, his second trip there in the past week. Blinken has also visited Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. While in Tel Aviv, Blinken participated in a marathon session with top Israeli officials to arrange for humanitarian aid and undertake efforts to prevent civilians from getting caught up in Israel’s response to the terror attacks launched by Hamas more than a week ago.
As of Monday, Israel Defense Forces were massing along the border with Gaza City for an expected ground invasion. Two million people live in Gaza, which is one of the most densely populated areas of the world. The Strip is one of two Palestinian territories, the other being the West Bank.
Formal Invite for Joe Biden
The president received the invite from Netanyahu over the weekend. The two men have known each other for decades. Biden spent Monday deliberating whether to make the trip with his top national security and intelligence advisors.
Biden has reaffirmed his support for Israel, and the United States has made clear that it will not prevent an invasion of Gaza. Hamas launched a surprise attack in southern Israel on Oct. 7, with more than 1,400 people killed and nearly 200 taken hostage. The group is considered a terrorist entity by the United States and the European Union, and Hamas refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist.
“Israel is going after a group of people who have engaged in barbarism that is as consequential as the Holocaust,” Biden said during an interview with 60 Minutes on Sunday. “Israel has to respond.”
As The New York Times reported on Tuesday, a major Israeli response is necessary to send a message to Hamas and other terrorist organizations that such attacks will be met with a swift response. In 2006, Israel attacked Hezbollah — the Iranian-backed militia that controls southern Lebanon — after the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers. The group’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, later said he regretted the actions, due to the fierce response.
“If I had known, would I do it? I say no, absolutely not,” Nasrallah stated, the paper of record noted.
Avoiding a Major War in the Middle East
Biden’s trip to the Middle East aims to ensure the war will not escalate. He will also visit Jordan, where he will meet with King Abdullah II, President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
There is still a danger that Hezbollah, which is larger than Hamas, could become involved, as it may see an opportunity to strike Israel in the north. There is also the possibility of direct conflict between Iran and Israel. U.S. diplomacy is aimed at avoiding such an outcome.
“[The president will] make it clear that we want to continue to work with all our partners in the region, including Israel, to get humanitarian assistance and again to provide some sort of safe passage for civilians to get out,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Monday evening.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.