Israeli PM Vows To Continue Military Attacks In Gaza Despite Biden’s Call For “De-Escalation”

President Joe Biden “conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire,” according to the White House.

Hundreds of residents of Detroit and Dearborn Michigan took to the streets on May 18, 2021, to march and protest the forced expulsion of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem and the ongoing air strikes on Gaza by Israel that have killed more than 200 Palestinians. | Getty Images
Hundreds of residents of Detroit and Dearborn Michigan took to the streets on May 18, 2021, to march and protest the forced expulsion of Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah in East Jerusalem and the ongoing air strikes on Gaza by Israel that have killed more than 200 Palestinians. | Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that Israel is “determined” to continue its military operation in Gaza “until its objective is achieved.” The PM’s remarks came after President Joe Biden told Netanyahu he expects “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire” as the U.S. ally’s airstrikes have killed more than 200 Palestinians and prompted solidarity demonstrations with Palestine around the world.  

In their fourth recent known call on Wednesday, Biden and Netanyahu discussed “the state of events in Gaza, Israelis’ progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States,” according to the White House readout of the call. 

While the U.S. government has been relatively increasing its pressure on Israel to end violence in the region, it recently blocked — for the third time — a United Nations Security Council joint statement that would call for an immediate cease-fire. In previous calls between Biden and Netanyahu, the White House has stood by its stance that Israel has a “right to defend itself.” On Wednesday, Netanyahu, who could stand to gain politically from the crisis, praised the support of Israel’s allies and named President Biden specifically. 

“I especially appreciate the support of our friend U.S. President Joe Biden for the State of Israel's right to self-defense,” Netanyahu said. 

Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 227 Palestinians, including 64 children, since violence escalated last Monday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Hamas militants have fired 4,000 rockets toward Israel in the last ten days, killing at least 12 Israeli residents, according to the New York Times.

Earlier Wednesday, Netanyahu visited the Israeli military’s Kirya headquarters. Speaking to more than 70 international diplomats and ambassadors, Netanyahu said, “There are only two ways that you can deal with [Hamas].” 

“You can either conquer them and that's always an open possibility, or you can deter them, and we are engaged right now in forceful deterrence, but I have to say we don't rule out anything,” Netanyahu said. 

The impact of Israel’s attacks on Gaza goes beyond the tragic loss of human life. At least 18 hospitals and clinics in Gaza have reportedly been damaged; according to The Times, water pipes that serve as many as 800,000 people have been broken. The al-Rimal clinic, which reportedly is Gaza’s only COVID-19 testing lab, was damaged Monday during an Israeli airstrike. 

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs on Tuesday called on Israel and Hamas “to agree to a humanitarian pause.” The pause would “allow for emergency humanitarian relief distribution and for civilians to purchase food and water, seek medical care and attend to other emergency needs,” according to a statement from the office’s under secretary-general Mark Lowcock.

Progressive Democrats have consistently spoken out against the U.S. response to the ongoing violence in the Middle East. 

On Wednesday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said the U.S. “should not be rubber-stamping weapons sales to the Israeli government.” She retweeted a Jewish Currents report on her plan to introduce a resolution to block a planned U.S. $735 million sale of weapons to Israel. 

On Tuesday, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the first-ever Palestinian American elected to Congress, spoke to President Biden during his visit to Michigan before he headed to Ford’s Rogue Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn. According to reports from multiple outlets, Rep. Tlaib told Biden that his stated support for Israel enables the government to commit crimes against Palestinians. 

“It is our duty to end the apartheid system that for decades has subjected Palestinians to inhumane treatment and racism,” Tlaib said in a speech on the House floor last Thursday.

The two reportedly shook hands after the conversation Tuesday. In a speech later that day at the Ford plant, President Biden commended Tlaib’s intellect and passion.

“I admire your concern for so many other people,” Biden said during the speech. The president also said he’ll “do everything” to see that Tlaib’s family living in the West Bank “are well.”

Two miles away from the Ford plant outside the Dearborn Police Department HQ, thousands of protesters demonstrated in support of the Palestinians.