Biden in Tel Aviv tells Israel 'You are not alone,' announces $100M in aid for Palestinians

U.S. President Joe Biden told the people of Israel Wednesday they are "not alone" amid the war with Hamas in Gaza. Pool Photo by Miriam Alster/UPI
1 of 5 | U.S. President Joe Biden told the people of Israel Wednesday they are "not alone" amid the war with Hamas in Gaza. Pool Photo by Miriam Alster/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 18 (UPI) -- U.S. President Joe Biden pledged his support for Israel in a trip to Tel Aviv on Wednesday and offered humanitarian aid to Palestinians amid the Gaza conflict.

In remarks on the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas and the ensuing war, Biden said he had a "single message" to deliver to the people of Israel: "You are not alone."


"As long as the United States stands -- and we will stand forever -- we will not let you ever be alone," he said.

Biden was greeted on the tarmac at Ben Gurion International Airport by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog.

"I wanted to be here today for a simple reason: I wanted the people of Israel, the people of the world to know where the United States stands," Biden said at a joint press conference, before condemning Hamas for its Oct. 7 attack that resulted in the deaths of some 1,300 Israelis and 31 Americans and prompted Netanyahu to wage war against the Palestinian militants.

Biden has repeatedly voiced support for Israel's right to defend itself and vowed that the United States will unequivocally stand by its side as it does so.

He also repeated Wednesday the United States' commitment that Israel would receive everything it needs for its war effort.

Biden said the Palestinian people "are suffering greatly as well" and mourned the loss of life as he sought to draw a clear distinction between Hamas and the Palestinian people saying the group did not represent them.

"The vast majority of Palestinians are not Hamas. Hams does not represent the Palestinian people," he said. "Hamas uses innocents -- innocent families in Gaza as human shields, putting their command centers, their weapons, their communications tunnels in residential areas."

The White House on Wednesday announced that the United States would provide $100 million in humanitarian assistance to support more than a million Palestinian people in Gaza and the West Bank who have been displaced by the war with clean water, food, hygiene support, medical care and other needs.

"Civilians are not to blame and should not suffer for Hamas's horrific terrorism," the White House said. "Civilian lives must be protected and assistance must urgently reach those in need."


Biden touched down as the humanitarian situation in Gaza deteriorated. The Palestinian enclave has been subjected to incessant bombardment by Israel since the war began, and health officials have been warning for days that there is no water or electricity and that food and medicine are scarce and will soon be depleted.

On Tuesday, the situation worsened as hundreds sheltering at a hospital in Northern Gaza were killed in an explosion, with Hamas and Israel each claiming the other was responsible for the attack.

A meeting between Biden and Jordan's King Abdullah, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was canceled following the strike.

Late Wednesday, the White House announced that Biden spoke with Egypt's Al-Sisi, during which the two men discussed humanitarian assistance for Gaza and ways to ensure the aid is distributed to the civilian population.

White House officials said the two leaders also agreed on the need to preserve stability in the Middle East and prevent the current conflict from escalating.

During his brief remarks following his arrival in Tel Aviv, Biden appeared to agree with Israel's claims that an errant Hamas rocket was behind the hospital's destruction.


"I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion in Gaza yesterday, and based on what I've seen it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you," he told Netanyahu.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been on the ground in the region for days and a newly appointed special envoy for Middle Eastern humanitarian Issues arrived Sunday to work on securing unimpeded access to badly needed supplies for Gaza.

John Kirby, National Security Council spokesman, told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Tel Aviv that Biden would make "it clear, as he has before, that we want to see humanitarian assistance flow" in Gaza in a sustainable effort.

"We're optimistic that we'll be able to get some humanitarian assistance in," he said. "A lot of work has been done."

Biden told Netanyahu the United States will work on humanitarian supplies during his trip for Palestinians caught in the middle of the war.

Netanyahu called Biden "a true friend" and said his visit to Israel was the first by a U.S. president during a time of war.

"It speaks to the depth of your personal commitment to Israel, it speaks to the depth of your personal commitment to the future of the Jewish people and the one and only Jewish state," he said. "I know I speak for the people of Israel when I say, thank you, Mr. President. Thank you for standing with Israel, today, tomorrow and always."


Biden is scheduled to meet with Netanyahu and his war cabinet, of whom "he'll be asking some tough questions" about their plans, objectives and intentions for the war, Kirby said.

"He'll be asking them as a friend -- as a true friend of Israel," Kirby said. "But he will be asking some questions of them."

Israel has come under growing criticism over the execution of its war against Hamas. Along with its bombing of Gaza, an evacuation order for the northern half of the enclave issued late last week affecting some 1.1 million people ahead of a widely expected ground invasion has thrown the territory into chaos.

Francesca Albanese, the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory, has warned that the Palestinians are in grave danger of mass ethnic cleansing, and the World Health Organization has called on Israel to rescind the order that it said "has been impossible to carry out."

On Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres accused Israel of pursuing "collective punishment" against the Palestinian people for the Hamas attack.

"I call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to provide sufficient time and space to help realize my two appeals and to ease the epic human suffering we are witnessing," he said.


Biden's arrival also comes as fighting on the Lebanese border between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah intensifies, stoking fears of a second front opening in the war.

Kirby explained to reporters that one of Biden's objectives is to prevent that from happening.

Biden was "going to make it clear that we continue to want to see this conflict not widen, not expand, not deepen. And he'll make that point very clearly."

Scenes from war: Fighting, destruction in Israel and Gaza

A man carries away the body of a child killed in Israeli bombardment after being rescued from the rubble of a building in Rafah in the southern of Gaza Strip on October 19, 2023. Photo by Ismail Muhammad/UPI | License Photo

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