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Biden arrives in Middle East, declares Israel wasn’t responsible for Gaza hospital attack

Israel and Hamas have traded blame for the destruction of the hospital that killed hundreds.

Published: October 18, 2023 6:36am

Updated: October 18, 2023 9:20am

President Joe Biden injected his diplomacy directly into the Israel-Hamas conflict on Wednesday, visiting Tel Aviv and declaring he did not believe Israel was responsible for the explosion that leveled a Gaza hospital and killed hundreds.

"You don't have to be a Jew to be a Zionist," Biden said, expressing how non-Jews can also support the state of Israel. "I think the security and safety of Jews worldwide is anchored in the continued vibrance of the state of Israel. That's what I think it's about at its core."

Biden arrived Wednesday morning and immediately declared his support for Israel, though he said he had hard questions about the Israeli plan for an invasion of Gaza that he wanted to ask.

But as protests erupted across the world after the deadly Gaza hospital explosion, Biden said he believed Israel's account that the rocket attack was caused by an errant missile fired from within Gaza. Hamas has blamed Israel for the attack.

"Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you," Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. "But there's a lot of people out there not sure, so we’ve got a lot—we've got to overcome a lot of things."

Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who traveled to Israel last week, joined Biden during a press conference during the trip. 

"We know the pride that Israel takes in its ability to defend itself, by itself, but, as we want to make very clear, you don't have to do that, because we're here. We're here to make sure that you're able to defend yourselves and to deal with something that is – I think on a basic human level – the most unimaginable," he said.

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