Middle East crisis: Netanyahu ‘hurting Israel more than helping’ it, says Biden

US military ship sets sail with equipment to build a temporary pier off the coast of Gaza

US president Joe Biden has said he believes Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu is “hurting Israel more than helping Israel” in his approach to the war in Gaza.

In an interview on Saturday with MSNBC, the president expressed support for Israel’s right to pursue Hamas, but said of Mr Netanyahu that “he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken”.

Mr Biden said a potential Israeli invasion of the Gaza city of Rafah, where more than 1.3 million Palestinians are sheltering, is “a red line” for him, but said he would not cut off weapons like the Iron Dome missile interceptors which protect the Israeli civilian populace from rocket attacks in the region.

Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, said the US president wants to see a plan to evacuate Palestinians before a major Israeli military offensive in Rafah.


Mr Biden has for months warned that Israel risks losing international support over mounting civilian casualties in Gaza. His remarks on Saturday pointed to the increasingly strained relationship between the two leaders.

A ship laden with humanitarian aid intended for Gaza is preparing to leave Cyprus, amid acute international concern as conditions in the territory continue to deteriorate.

A US charity said it was loading aid on to a boat in Cyprus, which will be the first shipment to Gaza along a maritime corridor the European Commission hopes will open by Sunday.

On Sunday, the United States announced a military vessel – the Gen Frank S. Besson – had departed from a Virginia base en route to the eastern Mediterranean to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza by sea.

In its statement, the US central command said the Besson, a logistics support vessel, departed “less than 36 hours after President Biden announced the US would provide humanitarian assistance to Gaza by sea”, adding that it was “carrying the first equipment to establish a temporary pier to deliver vital humanitarian supplies”.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees has said hunger is “everywhere” in Gaza and described the situation in the north of the enclave as “tragic” as aid via land is “denied despite repeated calls”.

The agency is calling for humanitarian access across the Gaza Strip and an immediate ceasefire.

Efforts to secure a deal on a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas are continuing, according to a statement by Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, on Saturday.

On Friday, Mossad chief David Barnea met his US counterpart, CIA director William Burns, to promote a deal to release the hostages, Mossad said in a statement.

However, Mr Biden said it was “looking tough” to secure a ceasefire in Gaza before the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

In a statement on Saturday marking Ramadan, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh vowed the Palestinians would continue to fight Israel “until they regain freedom and independence”.

According to the Hamas-controlled Gaza health ministry, at least 30,960 Palestinians have been killed and 72,524 have been injured in Israeli strikes on the enclave since October 7th. – Guardian