US President Biden Arrives Israel Amid Rocket Blasts

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Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden in Israel
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By Obinna Ejianya (9News Nigeria – Melbourne, Australia)

US President Joe Biden has landed in Israel for a high-stakes visit amidst a growing conflict between Israel and Hamas-controlled Gaza. The visit, aimed at demonstrating solidarity with Israel while seeking to understand the military plans and pressing for humanitarian relief, comes at a time when the region is experiencing heightened tensions and escalating violence.

A comprehensive overview of President Biden’s visit, the implications of his trip, and the ongoing conflict in the region.

The conflict between Israel and Hamas has been escalating rapidly, with rockets and recriminations being exchanged on a daily basis. The devastating Oct. 7 terrorist attack, which prompted Israel to launch airstrikes on Gaza, has further intensified the situation. As President Biden arrived in Tel Aviv, the conflict showed no signs of abating, making his visit an audacious and perilous endeavor.

President Biden’s visit to Israel was met with uncertainty and last-minute changes to his itinerary. Initially planned as a two-stop visit, with a summit meeting in Amman, Jordan, the second leg had to be canceled after hundreds of Palestinians were killed in an explosion at a Gaza hospital. Instead, President Biden spoke with President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt and President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority over the phone during his flight.

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President Biden’s visit to Israel comes with inherent risks, both political and physical. By making such a high-profile visit while Israel mounts airstrikes on Gaza and prepares for a possible ground invasion, the President effectively takes some ownership of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s actions. The strike on the Gaza hospital just hours before President Biden’s departure from Washington added to the complexity and uncertainty surrounding the trip.

Unlike previous visits by American presidents to conflict zones, President Biden’s trip to Israel was publicly announced in advance. This departure from tradition surprised many, considering the security risks involved. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken’s recent visit to Israel also highlighted the precarious nature of the region, with air raid sirens sounding and emergency protocols being activated.

During his brief stay in Israel, President Biden has several objectives. Firstly, he aims to demonstrate his unwavering support for Israel as it seeks to destroy Hamas while also acknowledging the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The President plans to ask “tough questions” of Prime Minister Netanyahu as a friend, seeking to understand Israel’s military plans and pressing for relief efforts to aid civilians in Gaza.

President Biden plans to meet with families affected by the Hamas attack, offering his condolences and support. He will also hold meetings with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel’s war cabinet, and President Isaac Herzog. These discussions will focus on exploring ways the United States can assist Israel while also addressing the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. The President’s aim is to ask hard questions as a friend of Israel, without being adversarial or menacing.

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The ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas has resulted in a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Israel has imposed a siege on the coastal enclave, cutting off essential supplies such as food, electricity, and medicine. Meanwhile, its airstrikes have led to hundreds of deaths. President Biden and his administration are actively working to resume the flow of humanitarian assistance to Gaza, with Secretary of State Blinken engaging in intense shuttle diplomacy to secure a framework for aid delivery.

The cancellation of the four-way summit meeting in Amman, which was intended to include President Biden, King Abdullah II, President el-Sisi, and President Abbas, was a significant setback. The summit aimed to address the conflict and explore ways to contain it. However, President Abbas’s decision to skip the meeting due to the hospital explosion prompted King Abdullah II to call off the entire visit.

President Biden’s visit to Israel amidst the ongoing conflict with Gaza showcases his commitment to supporting Israel while also acknowledging the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The risks associated with the visit highlight the gravity of the situation but also signify the importance of direct engagement with key stakeholders. As the President seeks to ask tough questions and offer assistance, the hope is that progress can be made towards a resolution that ensures peace and stability in the region.

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By Obinna Ejianya (9News Nigeria – Melbourne, Australia

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