Israel-Hamas war live: Biden calls for ‘urgent’ funding for Israel and Ukraine; Israel preparing for ‘prolonged’ Gaza campaign | Israel-Hamas war
That speech is now over. Let’s recap:
As expected, Biden used his second-ever Oval Office address to appeal to Americans for their support for tens of billions of dollars of funding for Israel and Ukraine.
Biden said he would send an urgent funding request to Congress, which is expected to be roughly $100bn over the next year. The proposal, which will be unveiled on Friday, includes money for Ukraine, Israel, Taiwan, humanitarian aid and border management.
Throughout the address, he made comparisons between Israel and Ukraine, Hamas and Putin. He stressed, however, that Israel should not make the same “mistakes” made by the US after 9/11 when, he said, Americans were “blinded by rage”.
Biden said, “As hard as it is, we cannot give up on peace, we cannot give up on a two-state solution”, and that, “The US remains committed to Palestinians’ right to dignity and to self-determination. The acts of Hamas don’t take that away.”
“Hamas and Putin represent different threats,” Biden said. “But they share this in common. They both want to completely annihilate a neighbouring democracy.”
That’s why tomorrow I’m going to send to Congress and urgent budget request to fund America’s national security needs to support our critical partners including Israel and Ukraine. It’s a smart investment that will pay dividends for American security for generations.
Help us keep American troops out of harm’s way. Help us build a world that is safer, more peaceful, more prosperous for our children and grandchildren. In Israel, we must make sure that they have what they need to protect the people today and always.
The security package I’m sending to Congress and asking Congress to build is an unprecedented addition to our security that will sharpen Israel, qualitatively wonderful qualitative military edge that we have committed to, that military edge.
This week, Joe Biden travelled to Israel – becoming the first US president to visit the country at war. He set out to show United States support for Israel, ease the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Gaza, win the freedom of hostages held by Hamas, and prevent a wider regional conflict that might draw in the US. So with stakes this high, how did he perform? And what does this mean for Biden politically?
Western officials are warning that the risk of regional “spillover” from theis real, after US forces in the region faced increasing threats and American bases in Iraq and Syria were repeatedly targeted by drone attacks.
A Pentagon spokesperson told reporters the missiles were “potentially” headed towardbut said the US hasn’t finished its assessment of what they were targeting. The action by the Carney potentially represented the first shots by the US military in the defense of Israel in this conflict.
On Thursday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the risk of regional spillover from the Israel-Hamas war is “real.”
Speaking at the Hudson Institute in Washington, Von der Leyen also said dialogue between Israel and its neighbours must continue.
“We have seen the Arab streets fill with rage all across the region. So the risk of a regional spillover is real,” she said, adding “Iran, Hamas’ patron, only wants to fuel the fire of chaos.”
The US has 2,500 troops in Iraq, and 900 more in neighbouring Syria, on a mission to advise and assist local forces in combating Islamic State, which in 2014 seized swathes of territory in both countries.
In Iraq, tension over the war in Gaza had already been high. The country’s top Shi’ite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, last week condemned Israel and called on the world to stand up to the “terrible brutality” in besieged Gaza.
Kataib Hezbollah, a powerful armed faction with close ties to Iran, accused the US of supporting Israel in “killing innocent people” and said it should leave Iraq.
In past years, Iranian-backed militias in Iraq regularly targeted US forces in Iraq. Such attacks had abated under a truce in place since last year, and Iraq has had a period of relative calm.
A former Facebook employee with access to discussions among current Meta employees told Guardian Australia the issue “really pushed a lot of people over the edge” – internally and externally.
Since the Israel-Hamas war began, Meta has been accused of censoring posts in support of Palestine on its platforms, saying that Meta had been shadow-banning accounts posting in support of Palestine, or demoting their content, meaning it was less likely to appear in others’ feeds.
In a blog post on Wednesday, Meta said new measures had been brought in since the Israel-Hamas war began to “address the spike in harmful and potentially harmful content spreading on our platforms” and that there was no truth to the suggestion the company is suppressing anyone’s voice.
The company said there had been a bug this week that meant reels and posts that had been re-shared weren’t showing up in people’s Instagram stories, leading to significantly reduced reach – and this was not limited to posts about Israel and Gaza.
Meta also said there was a global outage of its live video service on Facebook for a short time.
Meta has apologised after inserting the word “terrorist” into the profile bios of some Palestinian Instagram users, in what the company says was a bug in auto-translation.
The issue, which was, affected users with the word “Palestinian” written in English on their profile, the Palestinian flag emoji and the word “alhamdulillah” written in Arabic. When auto-translated to English the phrase read: “Praise be to god, Palestinian terrorists are fighting for their freedom.”
TikTok userearlier this week about the issue, noting that different combinations still translated to “terrorist”.
Instagram users accuse platform of censoring posts supporting Palestine.
“How did this get pushed to production?” one person replied.
“Please tell me this is a joke bc I cannot comprehend it I’m out of words,” another said.
After the first video, Instagram resolved the issue. The auto-translation now reads: “Thank God”. A spokesperson for Meta told Guardian Australia the issue had been fixed earlier this week.
“We fixed a problem that briefly caused inappropriate Arabic translations in some of our products. We sincerely apologise that this happened,” the spokesperson said.
Although commentators are likely to question whether the Ukraine and Middle East conflicts are comparable, for Biden it was a way of entreating Congress not to walk away from either.
He said: “American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances are what keep us, America, safe. American values are what make us a partner that other nations want to work with. To put all that at risk if we walk away from Ukraine, we turn our backs on Israel, it’s just not worth it.”
The president added that on Friday he would send an urgent budget request to Congress to fund support for partners including Israel and Ukraine. “It’s a smart investment that is going to pay dividends for American security for generations.”
The sweeping emergency funding request islikely to total around $100bn, including $60bn for Ukraine and $10bn for Israel. But it comes at a moment when the House of Representatives is paralysed with Republicans, who hold a narrow majority, unable to elect a new Speaker.
The conflict in Israel has heightened tensions further in the US with protests and counter-protests across the nation. Biden has faced criticism from activists and some in his own Democratic party for tying America’s fortunes to those of Israel while underplaying humanitarian concerns for the more than two million people in Gaza.
Joe Biden has drawn a direct, provocative link between Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Hamas’s attack on Israel as he urged Americans not to walk away from their role as “a beacon to the world”.
In only the second Oval Office address of his presidency, Biden said he would ask Congress to provide aid for both Israel and Ukraine and denounced the scourge of antisemitism and Islamophobia at home.
The president’s 15-minute address sought to weave the Ukraine and Middle East conflicts together to convince war-weary voters and hardline Republicans of America’s obligations. It is a conflation that will make some uneasy, especially as Israel, with vastly superior military power, prepares for a ground invasion of Gaza.
“Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: they both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy,” said Biden, sitting at the Resolute desk with flags, family photos, gold curtains and a darkened window behind him.
The duelling crises are providing a daunting diplomatic test for the former chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee who, at 80, is older than the state of Israel itself. That did not prevent him making a whirlwind trip to the country on Wednesday.
Reuters: China’s special envoy for the Middle East has said that the cause of the Israel-Gaza crisis on the lack of guarantee for the rights of Palestinians, as he met with his Russian counterpart in Qatar, a key diplomatic go-between in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
In the first leg of his tour in the region, China’s envoy for Middle East issues Zhai Jun landed in Qatar on Thursday where he reaffirmed with his Russian counterpart Mikhail Bogdanov Beijing’s alignment with Moscow in their efforts to help de-escalate the Gaza crisis.
China and Russia share the same position on the Palestinian issue, Zhai was quoted saying after meeting with Bogdanov in Doha, a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin held talks with his “dear friend” President Xi Jinping in a rare meeting in Beijing.
“The fundamental reason for the current situation in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is that the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people have not been guaranteed,” Zhai said.
In a late night interview with CNN, IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus was asked to comment on how soon a ground offensive may begin.
“The IDF is deployed along the Gaza strip. The reserves are ready, equipped and standing by,” he said. But he would not “advertise” when activities would begin.
“Ground activity is one of the options, one of the tools at our disposal,” he added.
AAP: Almost 100 people have landed in Dubai from Israel on an Australian repatriation flight.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Friday wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that a government-arranged flight arrived from Tel Aviv overnight with 99 passengers onboard.
“We are planning an assisted-departure flight from Dubai to Perth tonight,” she said.
“Onward domestic travel is being provided to those passengers by Qantas free of charge.”
The government also helped Australians leave on a commercial Emirates flight from Dubai to Sydney.
Senator Wong said due to “diminishing demand for dedicated assisted-departure flights, we do not have immediate plans for any further flights from Tel Aviv”.
“We continue to work with partners to assist the departure of Australians who want to leave Israel or the occupied Palestinian territories,” she said.
Commercial flights departing Tel Aviv remained available, the foreign minister said.
More than 1650 previously registered Australians have left Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. The government has previously said there are 46 Australians in Gaza, and their safety remains unknown.
As apprehension spread across the region of a major war, the Jordanian foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, said: “All the indications are that the worst is coming. The catastrophe will have painful consequences in coming periods.”
Diplomatic efforts, Safadi added, had failed to fend off the conflict. Even this modest delivery was not entirely guaranteed. The state department said on Thursday that the new US special envoy for humanitarian issues, David Satterfield, was still trying to “negotiate the exact modalities” of the agreement, while Egyptian workers started repairing the road running through the Rafah crossing.
Aid agencies have warned that the life-saving assistance, if and when it arrived, was in danger of being too little too late in view of the scale of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The emergencies director of the World Health Organization, Michael Ryan, said aid needed to get in “every day”, and called the initial convoy of 20 trucks a “drop in the ocean of need right now”.
Here are some of the latest images from Gaza coming in over the wires:
The US intelligence community has estimated there were likely 100 to 300 people killed in the blast at the Al-Ahli Arab hospital in Gaza, but added that the assessment may evolve, according to excerpts of a document seen on Thursday by several media outlets.
The number is lower than the 471 deaths that health authorities in the Hamas-ruled enclave originally described.
An unclassified US intelligence assessment, provided to the AFP news agency by a Capitol Hill source, estimates the number of people killed at the hospital on Tuesday night at the “low end of the 100-to-300 spectrum.”
“We are still assessing the likely casualty figures and our assessment may evolve, but this death toll still reflects a staggering loss of life,” the document said.
“The United States takes seriously the deaths of all civilians, and is working intensively to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” the document said.
On a visit to Cairo, the UN secretary-general, António Guterres, said: “We need food, water, medicine and fuel now. We need it at scale and we need it to be sustained, it is not one small operation that is required.”
The threat of a ground assault on top of the constant airstrikes, now threatens to cut off even this slim lifeline to Gaza at any moment.
“There will be many injured who will lose their lives if sufficient fuel, medical supplies and life-saving aid is not delivered to hospitals in Gaza which are full of injured civilians from the continuous bombing and Israeli airstrikes,” said Riham Jafari, the communications and advocacy coordinator at ActionAid Palestine.
“Insufficient aid will cause health disasters and starvation as patients with chronic diseases and pregnant women and their infants will be unable to receive the medical care and nutrition they need, and this will endanger their lives. We know that the 20 trucks of aid currently promised is simply not enough.”
Israel’s consent for Egypt to let in food, water and medicine provided the first possible opening in its seal of the territory. Many Gaza residents are down to one meal a day and drinking dirty water, the AP reports.
Egypt and Israel were still negotiating the entry of fuel for hospitals. Israeli military spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Hamas has stolen fuel from UN facilities and Israel wants assurances that won’t happen. The first trucks of aid were expected to go in Friday.
The Gaza Health Ministry pleaded with gas stations to give fuel to hospitals and a UN agency donated some of its last fuel.
The agency’s donation to Gaza City’s Shifa Hospital, the territory’s largest, would “keep us going for another few hours,” hospital director Mohammed Abu Selmia said.
With the Egypt-Gaza border crossing in Rafah closed, the already dire conditions at Gaza’s second-largest hospital deteriorated further, said Dr. Mohammed Qandeel of Nasser Hospital in the southern town of Khan Younis. Power was shut off in most of the hospital and medical staff were using mobile phones for light.
At least 80 wounded civilians and 12 dead flooded into the hospital after witnesses said a strike hit a residential building in Khan Younis. Doctors had no choice but to leave two to die because there were no ventilators, Qandeel said.
“We can’t save more lives if this keeps happening,” he said.
These are the most recent death tolls from Gaza and Israel:
The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said 3,785 people have been killed in Gaza since the war began, the majority women, children and older adults. Nearly 12,500 were injured, and another 1,300 people were, authorities said.
This toll includes 477 people it said were killed in a hospital explosion. This figure is disputed by US intelligence, which estimates the toll was between 100 and 300 people.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, mostly civilians slain during Hamas’ deadly incursion. 203 others were abducted, and between 100 and 200 are missing, the IDF said.
““We do not know if they are dead and their body is somewhere in Israel or somewhere in the Gaza strip whether in the hands of Hamas or other terrorist organisations or not in the hands of anybody, or if they are held hostage,” IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus said.
Humanitarian agencies have stockpiled life-saving supplies on the Egyptian side of the border, waiting for the crossing to open. The UN aid chief, Martin Griffiths, told the UN security council on Wednesday that the organisation sought to bring aid deliveries to Gaza back to 100 trucks a day, the level before the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Griffiths told the security council: “There is simply nowhere to go for civilians to escape the destruction and privation, both of which grow by the hour as missiles continue to fly and essential supplies, including fuel, food, medical items, water run low.
“Due to the scarcity of water, UNRWA [the UN relief agency] in some locations … is being forced to ration down to providing one litre of water per person per day. Bear in mind that the minimum by international standards should be 15 litres, and they’re getting one – and they’re the lucky ones.”
In an interview with CNN, IDF spokesperson Jonathan Conricus has said that 203 Israelis are being held hostage by Hamas.
He added that there are “between 100 and 200 Israelis that are still unaccounted for.”
“We do not know if they are dead and their body is somewhere in Israel or somewhere in the Gaza strip whether in the hands of Hamas or other terrorist organisations or not in the hands of anybody, or if they are held hostage,” he said.