President Joe Biden is departing his trip to Israel — meant as a show of continued solidarity with the ally — with a significant breakthrough on providing humanitarian assistance to Palestinians.
The president announced the U.S. will be providing $100 million in humanitarian assistance for Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank to support the more than a million displaced people in need of water, food, medical care and other needs.
Israel and Egypt agreed to the movement of aid from Egypt into Gaza “based on the understanding that there will be inspections and that the aid should go to civilians, not to Hamas,” President Biden said in remarks Wednesday. The president spoke after meeting with Israeli first responders and families who have lost loved ones in the conflict.
The development comes less than 24 hours after Biden began his trip to Israel with a major setback. Jordan and the Biden administration agreed to cancel a summit between Arab leaders and the president after hundreds were killed in an explosion at a Gaza hospital Tuesday. Biden had planned to meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Palestinian Leader Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Amman.
The scrapped meeting makes Biden’s goal of preventing a wider regional war more difficult. While repeating America’s commitment to Israel, something Biden wanted to “personally” demonstrate with the trip, the president issued a word of warning.
“You are a Jewish state but you’re also a democracy, and like the United States, you don’t live by the rules of terrorists, you live by the rule of law,” Biden said Wednesday. “I caution this: While you feel that rage, don’t be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the U.S. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.”
Earlier in the day, Biden met with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Israeli war cabinet, vowing that America would “have Israel’s back as you work to defend your people.”
The president also addressed the explosion at Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, which the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry estimates killed roughly 500 people.
“I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion of the hospital in Gaza yesterday, and based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team,” Biden said Wednesday as he met with Israeli officials. “Not you, but there’s a lot of people out there not sure. We’ve got to overcome a lot of things.”
Asked by reporters what made him sure Israel wasn’t behind the hospital explosion, Biden said, “the data I was shown by my defense department.”
Shortly after the president’s comments, National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson added that “our assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday.”
Watson said the administration will continue to collect information on the explosion.
Since Hamas launched an attack on Israel on Oct. 7, Biden has appealed to leaders in the region to contain the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas. The administration is desperately working to deter state and terrorist groups from escalating to a regional war.
Wednesday’s visit marked the second time in his presidency that Biden has visited a war zone after visiting Ukraine in February.