WASHINGTON: Any move by Israel to occupy the Gaza Strip again would be a “big mistake”, US President Joe Biden said in an interview released on Sunday (Oct 15), as Israeli troops prepared for a ground invasion.
Israel, seeking vengeance for an attack by Hamas on Oct 7, has declared war on the militant group, launching a relentless bombing campaign and warning more than a million people in northern Gaza to move south ahead of the operation.
Asked by CBS news program 60 Minutes if he would support any occupation of Gaza by the American ally, Biden replied: “I think it’d be a big mistake.”
Hamas “don’t represent all the Palestinian people”, he continued.
But invading and “taking out the extremists” is a “necessary requirement,” he added.
The Hamas attack saw fighters shoot, stab and burn to death more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians. Israel’s reprisal attacks in the days since have flattened neighbourhoods and killed at least 2,670 people in Gaza, the majority ordinary Palestinians.
Israel has faced grave warnings about the implications of putting boots on the ground in Gaza, with aid groups warning of a humanitarian disaster, fears of the conflict escalating, and the challenges of separating militants from civilians in the impoverished, densely occupied territory.