White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday doubled President Biden’s comments that he had not seen an “overreaction” from Israel in the violent dust with Gaza.
When a reporter was asked if the president still thinks he has not seen an overreaction, Psaki said, “Again, I think the president thinks Israel has a right to self-defense.”
“There is no reason why 1,500 rockets come from Hamas,” she added. “Hamas is a terrorist organization. It does not represent the views of families or people who suffer as a result of this violence.
She said the US strategy is focused on de-escalation.
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Biden said Thursday that he had not seen a “significant overreaction” from Israel in response to Hamas’ rocket attacks, and that they had “indiscriminately fired into population centers.” Both he and Foreign Minister Antony Blinken had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Israel and Gaza enter their fifth day of deadly attacks in the most serious conflict between Israeli and Gaza militants since 2014. Police and protesters began clashes in the streets of East Jerusalem fighting over impending evictions and at Al-Aqsa. the mosque before the rocket attack began. Violence has now spread to other regions where Jews and Arabs live side by side.
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An Israeli military official said at least 2,000 rockets had been fired from Gaza at Israel since the clash began, according to Reuters. Many of the rockets were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system.
At least 119 Palestinians, including 31 children and 19 women, have been killed in recent clashes and more than 830 were injured, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. The Israeli military estimates that between 80 and 90 of them were militants. Eight have been killed in Israel, including six civilians, Israeli officials said.
Israel used artillery fire and airstrikes to target a network of Hamas tunnels on Friday to try to stop the ongoing attacks. Health officials in Gaza say 13 Palestinians were killed in the 40-minute offensive before dawn.
The violence has now spread to other cities. Health officials say ten Palestinians were killed in the West Bank on Friday in clashes between protesters and Israeli security forces, including one that the Israeli military said they were trying to stab a soldier.
In addition to the United States, diplomats in the Middle East have sought to mediate peace talks between the two sides.
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“Negotiations have taken a real and serious path on Friday,” an official told Reuters. “The mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the UN are intensifying their contacts with all sides in an attempt to restore calm, but an agreement has not yet been reached.”