Jerusalem, Oct 18 (IANS) US President Joe Biden plans to ask Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu some “tough questions as a friend of Israel” regarding Jerusalem’s strategy in the Gaza war, White House National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby told reporters aboard Air Force One with the President enroute to Tel Aviv, media reports said.
He is slated to land at the Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv at 10 a.m. for meetings with Israeli officials, The Times of Israel reported.
Biden’s visit will be building off of a passionate speech last week in which he expressed his horror over the brutal Hamas assault, winning over Israelis across the political spectrum.
But this trip faltered before it began following an explosion on Tuesday evening at a Gaza hospital that Hamas has blamed on Israeli airstrikes.
Israel said it was not involved and said a rocket misfired by Palestinian Islamic Jihad led to the blast that killed hundreds, The Times of Israel reported.
Biden’s Jordan leg of the trip where he was supposed to meet in a four-way summit with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Jordanian King Abdullah II and Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El Sisi was called off following the explosion, and widespread condemnation in the Arab world.
In Israel, Kirby said that Biden will meet with the families of people killed in Hamas’s brutal massacre in Israel on October 7, and of people who were abducted by the terror group. The shock Hamas onslaught killed nearly 1,300 people, mostly civilians, and some 200 people of all ages were taken captive.
Kirby added that in discussions with Israeli leaders, Biden will also discuss humanitarian aid to Gaza, which Washington has been pushing.
Israel has largely held off on allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza, as it seeks to pressure Hamas to release hostages.
Washington has also been pressing Israel to flesh out its strategy for Wednesday after it completes its stated war goal of toppling Hamas.