President of the United States, Joe Biden, has said Israel must eliminate the Hamas terror group but rejected reoccupying the Gaza Strip.
Biden made this known in an interview with CBS on Sunday, stressing that reoccupying the Gaza Strip would be a “big mistake.”
The US President made this known as Israeli troops prepared for a ground invasion of the territory.
He expressed confidence that Israeli forces would try to minimise civilian casualties and take steps to avoid a dire humanitarian crisis in the Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has vowed to eradicate Hamas in reaction to the terror group’s brutal rampage across southern on October 7, in which 1,300 people — over 1,000 of them civilians — were killed and at least 155 more taken hostage to Gaza.
Among the victims were men, women, and children, including dozens of babies, and some of the victims were mutilated and there were reportedly incidents of rape, and torture of children.
Reacting to the horiffic assault and Israel’s response, Biden said, “I think Israel has to respond. They have to go after Hamas. Hamas is a bunch of cowards. They’re hiding behind the civilians.”
Invading and “taking out the extremists” is a “necessary requirement,” he added.
Asked if Hamas must be eliminated entirely, he replied: “Yes I do.”
However, asked if he would support any occupation of Gaza by Israel, Biden replied: “I think it’d be a big mistake.”
“Look, what happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas, and the extreme elements of Hamas, don’t represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.”
Israel took control of the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Six Day War, then unilaterally left in 2005, enabling the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to take control of the enclave.
A year later, in response to rocket fire, Israel imposed an air, land and sea blockade on the 140-square-mile (362-square-kilometer) strip of land, which is also bordered by Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea.