Biden to visit Israel on Wednesday; Iran issues warning

October 17, 2023 - 9:00 AM
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A view shows houses and buildings destroyed in Israeli strikes, in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, October 11, 2023. (Reuters/Anas al-Shareef/File Photo)
  • Biden to affirm Israel‘s right to defend against Hamas
  • U.S., Israel to work on plan to get humanitarian aid to Gaza
  • Iranian foreign minister warns of preemptive actions

 U.S. President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and make clear Israel has the right to defend itself, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Tuesday.

Blinken said after lengthy talks with Netanyahu that Biden will reaffirm solidarity with Israel, which has widely been expected to launch a ground assault in Gaza.

Israel has vowed to annihilate the Hamas movement that rules Gaza after fighters burst into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,300 people, mainly civilians, in the deadliest day in the country’s 75-year-old history.

Biden will make clear that “Israel has the right and indeed the duty to defend its people from Hamas and other terrorists and to prevent future attacks,” Blinken told reporters after hours of talks with Israel‘s war cabinet in Tel Aviv. During those talks, he was forced to shelter in a bunker for five minutes when sirens went off.

​ He said Israel would brief Biden on its war aims and strategy and on how it will conduct operations “in a way that minimizes civilian casualties and enables humanitarian assistance to flow to civilians in Gaza in a way that does not benefit Hamas.”

The U.S. and Israel agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza, Blinken said.

Earlier, Iran’s foreign minister said Israel would not be allowed to act in Gaza without consequences, warning of “preemptive action” in the coming hours.

Gaza authorities say more than 2,800 people have been killed there, around a quarter of them children, and more than 10,000 wounded are in hospitals desperately short of supplies.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told state TV: “Leaders of the Resistance will not allow the Zionist regime to take any action in Gaza. … All options are open and we cannot be indifferent to the war crimes committed against the people of Gaza.”

“The resistance front is capable of waging a long-term war with the enemy (Israel)… in the coming hours, we can expect a preemptive action by the resistance front,” he said, without elaborating.

Iran refers to regional countries and forces opposed to Israel and the United States as a “resistance front.” Amirabdollahian said it was not limited to Hezbollah in Lebanon and added: “This front was formed throughout the region to preserve the independence of nations and counter repeated aggressions by the Zionist regime over the past years.”

Last week, Iran’s top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran was not involved in the Hamas attack on Israel, but hailed what he called Israel‘s “irreparable” military and intelligence defeat.

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi said on Monday that while Tehran supported the Palestinian cause, the resistance front against Israel made its own independent decisions.

– Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Bassam Massoud and Nuha Sharaf in Gaza, Ari Rabinovitch, Dan Williams, Henriette Chacar, Dedi Hayun, Maayan Lubell, Emily Rose, James Mackenzie and John Davison in Jerusalem, Parisa Hafezi in Dubai, Humeyra Pamuk, Hatem Maher, Ahmed Tolba and Omar Abdel-Razek in Cairo, Trevor Hunnicutt, Nandita Bose, Rami Ayyub and Katharine Jackson in Washington, Michelle Nichols at the United Nations; Writing by David Brunnstrom; Editing by Howard Goller and Cynthia Osterman