US President Joe Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday, as Iran warned of preemptive action against Israel.
Amid fears about the war with Hamas expanding into a larger conflict, the US leader is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reaffirm the country’s solidarity with Israel, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said.
Announcing the travel plans, Blinken said the President’s visit comes at a critical moment, during which he will make it clear that “Israel has the right and the duty to defend its people from Hamas and other terrorists and prevent future attacks.”
On Wednesday, I'll travel to Israel to stand in solidarity in the face of Hamas's brutal terrorist attack.
I'll then travel to Jordan to address dire humanitarian needs, meet with leaders, and make clear that Hamas does not stand for Palestinians' right to self-determination.
— President Biden (@POTUS) October 17, 2023
The decision comes after nine hours of negotiations between Biden, Netanyahu, and other officials.
Biden warns Israel’s neighbors
Biden will also reiterate the “crystal clear message” to any state or non-state trying to “take advantage” of the current situation and attack Israel: “Don’t.”
After meeting with Israeli officials, Biden is expected to travel to Amman to meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah al Sisi, and Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas.
As the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens, the US President said the US and Israel had agreed to develop a plan to enable humanitarian aid to reach civilians.
Few details were given, but the plan would include “the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm’s way,” he said.
It comes as a blockade of aid remains in place at Egypt’s Rafah crossing, contributing to fears that citizens could starve and hospitals would run out of electricity.
The Israeli military said 199 captives were being held in the besieged territory. A Hamas official demanded earlier on Monday that six thousand Palestinian men and women detained in Israel’s jails be released in exchange for hostages in Gaza.
Hamas also released a first video of Israeli hostage held in Gaza.
Iran warns of “preemptive action”
Iran’s foreign minister has said Israel will not be allowed to act in the Gaza Strip without consequences and warns of “preemptive action” in the coming hours.
Tensions along the Israel-Lebanon border have been high since Israel began its reprisals against Hamas in Gaza. The fear here is that this could become a new front in the war with the involvement of Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran.
The US has warned Iran against escalating the conflict, and Israel says if Hezbollah gets involved, it will give a devastating response.
For the past week, Hezbollah and the Israeli military have exchanged fire across the border, but so far, the fighting has been contained.
More than 1,300 people in Israel have been killed by Hamas since October 7th, and more than 2,700 people have died in Israeli retaliatory strikes in Gaza.