Biden Says It Would Be ‘Big Mistake’ For Israel To Reoccupy Gaza

The White House has fiercely defended Israel after Hamas’ surprise attack earlier this month.

President Joe Biden said Sunday that Israel should not reoccupy Gaza if it invades the territory following Hamas’ sudden, deadly attack against the country earlier this month.

“I think it’d be a big mistake,” the president told CBS’s Scott Pelley. “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.”

Biden went on to tell “60 Minutes” he believed Hamas’ leadership needed to be eliminated, “but there needs to be a Palestinian authority” in Gaza and a pathway to “a Palestinian state.”

“And you believe Israel would pursue that after what’s occurred?” Pelley asked.

“Not now. Not now,” Biden replied. “But I think Israel understands that a significant portion of Palestinian people do not share the views of Hamas and Hezbollah.”

Israel withdrew its military from Gaza in 2005, and Hamas was elected to govern a year later. The country has sent ground troops since, in 2009 and 2014, but has not reoccupied the area.

Biden’s comments continue the White House’s policies of fiercely supporting Israel after Hamas unleashed a surprise attack against Israel on Oct. 7, storming into Israeli towns, gunning down revelers at a music festival, and taking hundreds of hostages. It was the deadliest attack on Israel in decades, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a declaration of war and ordered retaliation in Gaza.

Thousands have been killed on both sides, with no end to the conflict in sight.

Netanyahu has mobilized more than 360,000 reserve troops, and the military is widely expected to be near an invasion of the Gaza Strip with the goal of targeting Hamas’ leadership. Israel has already cut off food and supplies to Gaza, and temporarily limited Palestinians’ access to water there.

Pelley asked Biden Sunday if the U.S. would support a safe path for Gazans to leave the area. The president said he would, adding he believed Israel would allow those in Gaza to access medicine and water.

“I’m confident that Israel is going to act under the rules of war,” Biden said. “There’s standards that democratic institutions and countries go by. And so I’m confident that there’s gonna be an ability for the innocents in Gaza to be able to have access to medicine and food and water.”

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