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Biden will head to Israel and Jordan as concerns mount that Israel-Hamas conflict will spread

Written by on October 17, 2023

President Joe Biden will travel to Israel and Jordan this week in a show of solidarity, and to meet with both Israeli and Arab leadership amid growing concerns over the escalating violence in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Biden’s visit ahead of a possible Israeli ground invasion of Gaza aimed at crushing the Hamas militant group. The trip comes a week and half after Hamas’ incursion on Israel that has killed over 4,000 on both sides and displaced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

“He is coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world,” Blinken said.

Blinken had returned to Israel on Monday − his second visit in less than a week − after a whirlwind tour of six Arab states aimed at keeping the war from expanding across the Middle East. Blinken met with Netanyahu, reaffirming U.S. determination to provide Israel whatever is needed to protect its citizens, Blinken said in a statement.

The two also discussed coordination with the U.N. and “regional partners” to provide humanitarian aid to civilians as well as the U.S. commitment to the speedy release of hostages, Blinken said. Their meeting was interrupted twice by air raid sirens indicating incoming rockets, prompting them and others to seek shelter in a bunker.

About 2,000 U.S. troops have been told to get ready to deploy in anticipation of the ground offensive. The American soldiers would not be sent to Israel but could be assigned to other countries in the region for support roles such as medical assistance or providing security at gate crossings, the Associated Press reported Monday, citing U.S. officials.

Later in the day, Hamas said it’s holding 200 to 250 hostages − the upper end is about 50 more than previously believed − and added that it would release the non-Israeli ones when it was feasible. And Hezbollah said its fighters targeted five Israeli posts along the Lebanese border Monday afternoon.

 

Palestinians stand by a building destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in Nuseirat camp in the central Gaza Strip on Oct. 16, 2023.


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