President Joe Biden kept up a very public demonstration of solidarity with Israel on Wednesday, telling reporters the Pentagon showed him evidence Israeli forces were not behind an explosion that killed hundreds of people at a Gaza hospital.
His trip to the region was upended by the political fallout from the blast before he even set foot in Israel.
And he was accused of parroting Israeli propaganda when he said that he believed the ‘other team’ was responsible — following Israel’s claim that Islamic Jihad, an extremist group, was to blame for launching a rocket that misfired.
Later in the afternoon he was asked by a reporter how he could be sure.
‘The data I was shown by my Defense Department,’ he said.
President Joe Biden shakes hands with Dr. Jordanna Hadas Koppel during a meeting with Israeli first responders, family members and other citizens directly impacted by the October 7th attack on Israel by Hamas, in Tel Aviv
Biden had to abandon plans to visit Jordan and instead spent the full day in Tel Aviv
The explosion at a hospital where Palestinians were sheltering on Tuesday night triggered protests across the Middle East.
And it meant Arab leaders canceled plans for a summit with Biden in Jordan.
Instead he spent the day focused on Israel, a nation still mourning 1,300 people killed by Hamas terrorists and praying that hostages will be allowed home from Gaza.
After meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Biden met with survivors and heroes of the terror attack, including a young woman who saved people on her kibbutz.
He recounted a well-worn tale of his meeting with Golda Meir, a former prime minister of Israel, who told him Jews had a secret weapon in the defense of their country: ‘We have no place else to go.’
He continued: ‘You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist. And I think the security and safety of Jews worldwide is anchored and continued … by the state of Israel.
‘That’s what I think it is about at its core.’
Understanding that would help more people embrace Israel, he said.
President Joe Biden is greeted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as he arrives on Israeli soil on Wednesday morning. He finds himself at the heart of a growing storm
Bodies of victims of the al-Ahli hospital strike are seen being lined up in a courtyard on Tuesday
Palestinian authorities have said 500 people were killed in the strike on the al-Ahli hospital on Tuesday (pictured)
It was one of a string of meetings that Biden used to reaffirm U.S. commitment to th country.
He hugged Netanyahu after stepping off Air Force One at the start of a trip in a very public display of solidarity with the Israeli leader.
And he quickly said that early indications suggested it was not the Israelis but ‘the other team’ who were responsible for the massive blast that ripped through # Gaza hospital on Tuesday night killing 500 people.
Palestinian leaders initially said Israel was to blame while Israeli Defense Forces said a rocket launched by Islamic Jihad from Gaza had misfired and exploded.
‘I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at a hospital in Gaza yesterday,’ said Biden when he sat down with Netanyahu at a beachfront hotel.
‘And based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team not you. But there’s a lot of people out there who are not sure.
‘We’ve got to overcome a lot of things.’
As if to underline the high stakes involved, the Israeli military said rocket sirens were sounding in a village near Gaza just as Air Force One touched down at Ben Gurion Airport.
Biden arrived on a hurriedly abbreviated trip. Plans for a hop to Jordan for meetings with key Arab leaders were abandoned before he took off as protests rocked the region in the wake of the hospital explosion.
And he would have learned aboard Air Force One that his forces in Iraq were targeted by drones in the early hours, an attack reportedly thwarted by U.S. troops.
He was greeted warmly by Netanyahu as the first U.S. president to visit during wartime, despite a frosty history between the two men.
‘Mr. President, the world sees that support and the moral clarity that you have demonstrated from the moment Israel was attacked,’ said Netanyahu.
‘You rightly drawn a clear line between the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism and describe what Hamas did as sheer evil. It is exactly that.’
In his response, Biden was clear to give his support to Israel while pointing out that not all Palestinians supported the terrorist group.
‘I wanted to be here today for a simple reason: I want the people of Israel, people in the world to know where the United States stands,’ he said.