Biden says Israel's airstrikes on Gaza aren't a 'significant overreaction'

Israel Palestine
Palestinians walking next to the remains of a 15-story building hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City. Abdel Kareem Hana/Associated Press
  • President Joe Biden said he hadn't seen a "significant overreaction" in Israel's Gaza offensive.

  • Israel has been pummeling Gaza with airstrikes, leveling buildings and killing dozens of people.

  • Biden has touted Israel's right to self-defense amid rocket attacks from Hamas that have killed seven.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

President Joe Biden on Thursday said he had not seen a "significant overreaction" in Israel's offensive in Gaza, which has included devastating airstrikes that have leveled buildings and killed dozens of people.

"One of the things that I have seen thus far is that there has not been a significant overreaction," Biden said during a press briefing, adding that the goal was to see a reduction in rockets flying into Israel from Gaza.

The region is witnessing the worst violence since the 50-day war in 2014. The Israeli military has been pummeling Gaza with airstrikes - in some cases leveling apartment buildings - as Hamas and other militant groups fire hundreds of rockets toward Israel.

Israel has rebuffed any discussions of a cease-fire and vowed to continue the offensive.

At least 83 people in Gaza have been killed, including 17 children, BBC News reported, while at least seven Israelis have been killed. The International Criminal Court's top prosecutor has said she's monitoring the fighting for war crimes.

Palestinians carry the body of a child found in the rubble of a house destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in the town of Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip. Abdel Kareem Hana/Associated Press

Israel on Thursday prepared ground troops along the border with Gaza, raising the possibility of an invasion. Riots and violence between Jews and Arabs have filled the streets of several Israeli cities, moving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to warn against "lynching."

After a phone call with Netanyahu, Biden on Wednesday defended Israel's right to self-defense and condemned Hamas over the rocket attacks. The president did not express concerns about Israeli military tactics or the rising death toll on the Palestinian side.

"Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory," Biden told reporters, adding, "My hope is that we'll see this coming to a conclusion sooner than later."

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said Biden's remarks dehumanized Palestinians and lacked important context on what catalyzed the bloodshed.

Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories and treatment of Palestinians, which rights groups have increasingly decried as a form of apartheid, are at the heart of the tensions fueling the violence. The historically contentious dynamic has been exacerbated recently by planned evictions of Palestinians out of a neighborhood in East Jerusalem and by an Israeli police raid on Monday at an important Muslim holy site during Ramadan.

With no permanent US ambassador in Israel, Biden was in many ways unprepared for the recent violence in the region. The State Department on Wednesday announced it was "immediately" sending an envoy to the region as part of an effort to deescalate tensions.

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