President Joe Biden landed Wednesday morning at Ben Gurion Airport for a snap visit of several hours to discuss with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the war cabinet the campaign against Hamas. Biden was greeted and hugged by Netanyahu and President Herzog, who told him: “Welcome President, God bless you for your defense of Israel.”
Well, that remains to be seen. Many on Israel’s right have been wondering if the burgeoning American presence on Israel’s shores, including a contingency of some 2,000 marines, is aimed at halting a potential second front with Iran’s proxy Hezbollah, or at making sure that the Israeli victory for which many IDF soldiers will, God forbid, shed their blood, would conclude in Pax Americana installing Mahmoud Abbas as President of the State of Palestine on either side of Israel.
Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
Meanwhile, according to Ynet, citing American and Israeli sources, the US has been convinced by evidence that was provided by the IDF that it was a misfired Islamic Jihad rocket that landed on the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, killing 500.
According to The Economist, “Some open-intelligence analysts posited that it happened when a Palestinian rocket exploded mid-air—perhaps intercepted by Israeli air-defense systems—and the warhead fell onto the hospital.”
Incidentally, no one in the international news media made a fuss about the relentless Hamas rocket fire on Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon. Last Wednesday a rocket directly hit the Child Health Department and caused heavy damage to the building. Thank God, the children had been evacuated to fortified underground floors, but the director of the hospital had to be rescued from the building which was covered in concrete and glass fragments. It was the second direct hit to the hospital, which is protected by the Iron Dome defense system. Perhaps Israel should apologize for being so disproportionate about protecting its hospital patients.
Netanyahu told Biden: “Hamas murdered children in front of their parents, they burned people alive. Just imagine, Mr. President, the fear and panic of these little children in those moments. On October 7, Hamas murdered 1,400 Israelis, maybe more. You rightly said that Hamas is worse than ISIS. The German Chancellor who visited here yesterday said they are the new Nazis. You are both right. The world should be united in the defeat of Hamas.”
And, as right-wing commentators predicted, ahead of the President’s landing, the IDF reduced the number of attacks in the Gaza Strip from hundreds to a few dozen. The IDF also decided not to launch a ground operation until the President departs from Israel.
And since the next few days will see the visits of many European and other world dignitaries, it may spell a big, fat raincheck on the whole thing.
Biden is conducting separate meetings with Netanyahu, Herzog, and then the war cabinet ministers in the 5-star Kempinski on the Tel Aviv promenade. It should be noted that the Kempinski offers free high-speed internet and free bikes. The average cost per room is NIS 3,300 ($820). A steal.
Demonstrators calling for the release of the Israeli hostages even at the cost of suspending the attacks on Gaza have already gathered outside the Kempinski, where protesting is free.
White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby said on Tuesday that President Biden was going to pose “tough questions” to his Israeli hosts and insist on allowing humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip. Perhaps if the Islamic Jihad misfires a rocket on another hospital in Gaza Biden could get Netanyahu to suspend the whole war thing.