Biden says Gaza war has taken greater toll on civilians than all previous conflicts there combined

US President Joe Biden acknowledged the unprecedented nature of Israel’s ongoing war on the besieged Gaza Strip during his State of the Union address Thursday evening.

Biden accepted that the conflict has led to over 30,000 Palestinian deaths in the coastal enclave, saying the war has “taken a greater toll on innocent civilians than all previous wars in Gaza combined.”

He said “most” of the dead “are not Hamas” and that “thousands and thousands” of those who have been killed are “innocents, women and children, girls and boys.”

“Nearly 2 million Palestinians are under bombardment or displacement. Homes destroyed, neighborhoods in rubble, cities in ruin. Families without food, water, medicine. It’s heartbreaking,” Biden told a joint session of Congress.

The president formally announced that he is directing the US military to erect a temporary pier along Gaza’s coastline, which he said will be capable of receiving “large shipments” of food, water, medicine and temporary shelters for Gaza’s beleaguered population.

He maintained that no US troops will be on the ground in Gaza to carry out the short-term project.

“A temporary pier will enable a massive increase in the amount of humanitarian assistance getting into Gaza every day,” he said. “Israel must do its part. Israel must allow more aid into Gaza, ensure humanitarian workers aren’t caught in the cross-fire.”

Biden issued a direct message to the Israeli government, telling officials there that aid “cannot be a secondary consideration or a bargaining chip.”

“Protecting and saving innocent lives has to be a priority,” he said.

Israel has continued a military offensive on the Gaza Strip, now in its 153rd day, in retaliation for an Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas, which Tel Aviv said killed nearly 1,200 people.

At least 30,800 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza and nearly 73,000 others injured amid widespread devastation in the coastal enclave. Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving much of its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

In an interim ruling in January, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Hostilities have continued unabated, however, and aid deliveries remain woefully inadequate to meet the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

Biden said that “the only real solution” to the underlying Israel-Palestine conflict remains a two-state solution, bucking Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has repeatedly ruled out any sovereignty for the Palestinian people as long as he remains in power.

(Source: Anadolu Agansi)