WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden denounced Hamas’ attacks as terrorism and said the United States stands with Israel.
“There are moments in this life, I mean this literally, when a pure unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world. People of Israel lived through one such moment this weekend,” Biden said.
“This was an act of sheer evil: More than 1,000 civilians slaughtered, not just killed, slaughtered in Israel. Among them at least 14 American citizens were killed,” he added.
The militant group Hamas over the weekend launched a surprise land, air and sea attack on Israeli civilians, sparking retaliatory airstrikes across the Gaza Strip. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Hamas’ attack on Israel “a terrible mistake” and warned the retaliatory strikes were “just the beginning.”
“The brutality of Hamas, its bloodthirstiness, brings to mind the worst, worst rampages of ISIS. This is terrorism,” Biden said. “Sadly for the Jewish people, this is not new.”
The death toll from the ongoing violence between Israel and Hamas has surpassed 1,800, with over 1,000 killed and 2,700 injured in Israel and at least 830 people killed and 4,250 injured in Gaza, according to Palestinian and Israeli health services.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Netanyahu Tuesday morning to discuss coordinated efforts to provide support to the country under siege. Biden has held nearly 30 internal meetings and calls with U.S. and international officials since the violence began and said he is pressing Congress for “urgent action” when it returns to session.
Speaking Tuesday from the White House, Biden confirmed there are Americans among the hostages being held by Hamas. The president noted Hamas is threatening to execute the hostages “in violation of every code of human morality.”
U.S. President Joe Biden makes remarks after speaking by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about the situation in Israel following Hamas’ deadly attacks, from the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, U.S. October 10, 2023.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Hamas has been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S., U.K., and the European Union. In a joint statement released Monday, the U.S. along with France, Germany, Italy and the U.K. condemned the group and “its appalling acts of terror” and vowed to support Israel.
Biden reiterated the position in his speech Tuesday.
“In this moment we must be crystal clear: We stand with Israel. We stand with Israel,” Biden said. “There is no justification for terrorism. There is no excuse. Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination.”
“Hamas offers nothing but terror and bloodshed with no regard to who pays the price,” Biden said. “The loss of innocent life is heartbreaking. Like every nation in the world, Israel has the right to respond, indeed the duty to respond, to these vicious attacks.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Sunday said the U.S. would provide Israel with assistance including munitions. On Monday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the first batch of aid had been dispatched.
“We’re surging additional military systems including ammunition and interceptors to replenish Iron Dome,” Biden said Tuesday. “We’re going to make sure that Israel does not run out of these critical assets to defend its cities and its citizens.”
Biden said the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI are working with state and local law enforcement to identify any domestic threats that could spawn in response to the attacks in the Middle East. He urged Americans to denounce hate.
“This is a moment for the United States to come together to grieve with those who are mourning. Let’s be clear: There’s no place for hate in America, not against Jews, not against Muslims, not against anybody. What we reject is terrorism.”