Biden vows ‘rock solid and unwavering’ support for Israel following Hamas attacks

President Biden on Saturday vowed his administration would offer unwavering support to Israel in response to an assault by the terrorist group Hamas that has left hundreds dead and more than 1,000 people wounded.

“Today the people of Israel are under attack orchestrated by a terrorist organization, Hamas,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. “In this moment of tragedy, I want to say to them and to the world, and to terrorists everywhere, that the United States stands with Israel. We will not ever fail to have their back. We’ll make sure that they have the help their citizens need and they can continue to defend themselves.”

Biden was joined by Secretary of State Antony Blinken from the State Dining Room, where he delivered brief remarks in the aftermath of Saturday morning’s violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier Saturday declared they were “at war” with Hamas, a designated terrorist organization that controls Gaza, after it launched a barrage of rockets and invaded Israeli towns, leaving more than 100 Israelis dead and more than 1,000 wounded, including numerous civilians.

The New York Times reported nearly 200 Palestinians were killed and more than 1,600 were wounded in ensuing fighting.

Biden earlier in the day spoke with Netanyahu over the phone and said he would remain in touch with the Israeli prime minister while his national security team coordinated with Israeli counterparts.

Biden also spoke with King Abdullah II of Jordan about the attacks, according to the White House. 

“When I spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu this morning, I told him the United States stands with the people of Israel in the face of these terrorist assaults,” Biden said. “Israel has the right to defend itself and its people. Full stop. There is never a justification for terrorist attacks. And my administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.”

Biden further warned against nations hostile to Israel who might exploit Saturday’s attacks for their benefit.

Several Republicans have been quick to try and blame the Biden administration for emboldening Iran, which has historically supported Hamas. GOP lawmakers and 2024 presidential candidates pointed to the unfreezing of $6 billion in Iranian oil funds as part of a deal with Iran completed last month to release five Americans who had been detained.

Biden administration officials pushed back strongly against any suggestion that the $6 billion in funds were somehow connected to Hamas’ attack on Israel. They noted that the money did not come from U.S. taxpayers and was instead Iranian funds that had been unfrozen, and they cited restrictions that the money could only be used for humanitarian purposes.

“Let’s be clear: the deal to bring U.S. citizens home from Iran has nothing to do with the horrific attack on Israel,” State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said in a statement. “Not a penny has been spent, and when it is, it can only go for humanitarian needs like food and medicine. Anything to the contrary is false.”

It is unclear if the Biden administration will send aid to Israel or how they will respond to Saturday’s attacks or any ensuing fighting that takes place in the Middle East.

Any efforts by Congress to push support for Israel could be complicated by the fact that there is no Speaker of the House in place after Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) was ousted from the position last week after Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) brought up a measure to remove him from the job.

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