Biden phones Netanyahu, Abbas as death toll in Israeli airstrikes on Palestinians rises to 188

07:54 PM | 16 May, 2021
Biden phones Netanyahu, Abbas as death toll in Israeli airstrikes on Palestinians rises to 188
Caption:   An airstrike carried out by the Israeli military this week destroyed a building housing international news organisations in Gaza.–File photo
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US President Joe Biden on Sunday reaffirmed his support for Israel’s right to defend itself and at the same time conveyed to the Palestinian leadership his commitment to strengthen the “US-Palestinian partnership”. 

According to the official statement posted by The White House on its Twitter handle, “Today the President spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, reaffirmed his strong support for Israel’s right to defend itself against rocket attacks from Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza, and condemned these indiscriminate attacks against Israel.” 

The second part of The White House statement highlights details of Biden’s phone call to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. It reads, “The President also spoke with Palestinian Authority President Abbas and conveyed a commitment to strengthening the U.S.-Palestinian partnership. They discussed a shared desire for Jerusalem to be a place of peaceful coexistence for all faiths and backgrounds.”  

According to the international media, Biden, in separate phone calls to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, expressed his concern at the escalating conflict. 

Biden said he was worried about the violent confrontations in the West Bank and "shared his grave concern about the intercommunal violence across Israel", according to the White House readout of the president’s call to Netanyahu.

The US president also expressed concerns about "the safety and security of journalists and reinforced the need to ensure their protection," likely referring to an airstrike carried out by the Israeli military earlier in the day that destroyed a building housing international news organisations in Gaza.

Biden’s phone call to the Palestinian and Israeli leadership came days after the conflict in the Middle Eastern region flared up. 

At least 188 Palestinians, including 55 children, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes in seven days of the conflict, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Another 1,230 Palestinians were wounded in the Israeli airstrikes.

On the other hand, a major Israeli newspaper reported that 10 people have been killed in Israel in rockets fired by the groups fighting against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.