President BidenJoe BidenVirginia GOP gubernatorial nominee acknowledges Biden was ‘legitimately’ elected BuzzFeed News finds Biden’s private Venmo account Kid reporter who interviewed Obama dies at 23 MORE and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin NetanyahuBenjamin (Bibi) NetanyahuMORE spoke again Saturday as violence between Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip continues to escalate.
According to a readout of the call provided by the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., Netanyahu updated Biden on the actions the Israeli military has taken. Netanyahu thanked Biden for his “unreserved” support for Israel and maintained Israel is striving to avoid civilian casualties as the fighting balloons.
The call came after Israel faced pushback over its targeting of a high rise in Gaza that housed journalists from The Associated Press, Al Jazeera and other networks. Video of the building collapsing spread across the internet, drawing condemnations from journalists and concerns from the White House.
Netanyahu did not address the attack specifically, according to the Israeli embassy’s readout, but maintained that Israel provides warnings in advance of when it strikes such towers. The Israeli military said Saturday that it gave the owner of the building an hour’s notice before the airstrike.
The conversation marked the second time Biden and Netanyahu have spoken since violence broke out in the Gaza Strip and across Israel.
The White House said in its own readout of the call that Biden “reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza” and “raised concerns about the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection.”
“He expressed his support for steps to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom, and economic opportunity that they deserve and affirmed his support for a two-state solution. The leaders agreed to continue the close consultation between their teams and to remain in touch in the days ahead,” the White House said.
Nearly 2,000 rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel this week, and Israel has responded with punishing strikes of its own from jets and ground troops that have massed at the border.
According to CNN, more than 2,000 rockets have been fired toward Israel from Gaza since Monday. The Palestinian Health Ministry said Saturday that 139 Palestinians have been killed, including 39 children and 22 women, in retaliatory air strikes.
The mushrooming death toll has sparked alarms from lawmakers in the U.S., including many who have voiced support for Israel throughout the conflict.
Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezTensions mount among Democrats over US-Israel policy Senate Democrats ramp up push to limit Biden’s war powers Democrats reintroduce legislation to ban ‘ghost guns’ MORE (D-N.J.), the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said he is “deeply troubled by reports of Israeli military actions that resulted in the death of innocent civilians in Gaza as well as Israeli targeting of buildings housing international media outlets.”
“In response to thousands of rocket attacks fired by Hamas aimed at civilians, Israel has every right to self-defense from terrorists committed to wipe her off the face of the map. But no matter how dangerous and real that threat may be, I have always believed the strength of the U.S.-Israeli relationship flourishes when it is based on the shared values of democracy, freedom, pluralism, and respect for human rights and the rule of law,” he said in a statement.
Updated at 2:35 p.m.