Biden offers Israelis support, Palestinians aid in Tel Aviv

Flying home after a brief Tel Aviv visit on Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden told reporters he had been blunt with the Israelis about the need to support getting aid to Palestinians in Gaza and pledged support to Israelis and humanitarian assistance to suffering Palestinians.

Biden praised Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for agreeing to open the Rafah border crossing to allow 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid into Gaza and pledged the U.S. would get people trapped in Gaza out.

The 20 trucks carrying aid via the Rafah crossing would cross into Gaza in coming days, a White House official said, adding the U.S. hoped more trucks would be allowed entry eventually.

“Up to 20 trucks, this has been a very blunt negotiation I’ve had. And so I want to get as many of the trucks out as possible, there’s I guess 150 or something there. Not all of them will go in the first tranche. If there’s a second tranche, we’ll see how it goes. The commitment is if, in fact, we cross the border, the U.N. is going to be on the other side,” Biden said.

“But the point being if Hamas confiscates it (aid) or doesn’t let it get through, and just confiscates it, then it’s going to end because we’re not gonna be sending any humanitarian aid to Hamas if it’s going to be confiscated, that’s a commitment I’ve made,” he added.

Biden traveled to Israel to offer U.S. support in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attack on Israeli villages and military bases by Gaza-based Palestinian Hamas gunmen who killed 1,400 people and took about 200 hostages, Israel has said.

His trip was upended by a deadly explosion at Al-Ahli al-Arabi hospital on Tuesday evening. Palestinian officials blamed it on an Israeli air strike. Israel said the blast was caused by a failed rocket launch by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group, which denied blame.