President Joe Biden issued one of his harshest responses to Israel’s assault in Gaza on Thursday, saying the country’s retaliation for Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack has been “over the top.”
Biden was speaking to reporters Thursday night following the special counsel report about his handling of classified documents, and when asked about his efforts to see the remaining Israeli hostages held by Hamas released, the president said his administration has been “pushing very hard” to broker a temporary cease-fire.
“The conduct of the response in the Gaza Strip has been over the top,” Biden said from the White House. “There are a lot of innocent people who are starving, there are a lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying, and it’s gotta stop.”
“That’s why we’re pushing. I’m pushing very hard right now to deal with this hostage cease-fire.“
The president went on to say he had spoken directly with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to bolster humanitarian aid to Gaza, saying the U.S. had been working “really, really hard” to support Palestinians. (He incorrectly referred to el-Sisi as the president of Mexico in his off-the-cuff remarks.)
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for clarification.
Biden hinted that the U.S. was actively involved in cease-fire negotiations, at one point stopping himself so he didn’t reveal too much about any potential deal.
He added the White House was pushing for a hostage cease-fire that could “lead to a sustained pause in the fighting in the actions taking place in the Gaza Strip.”
“I think if we can get the [cease-fire] … I think that we would be able to extend that so that we could increase the prospect that this fighting in Gaza changes,” the president said.