United States President Joe Biden referred to the Hamas attack “as consequential as the Holocaust, but said during a 60 Minutes appearance that it would be a “big mistake” for Israel to occupy Gaza in response.
During the 60 Minutes segment that aired Sunday evening, Scott Pelley asked the Democratic president whether it was “time for a ceasefire” as the death toll rises after the Hamas attack last week.
“Look, there’s a fundamental difference,” Biden said. “Israel is going after a group of people who have engaged in barbarism that is as consequential as the Holocaust. And … I think Israel has to respond. They have to go after Hamas. Hamas is a bunch of cowards. They’re hiding behind the civilians. They put… their headquarters where civilians are and buildings and the like. But to the extent they can separate out…the Israelis are going to do everything in their power to avoid the killing of innocent civilians.”
Newsweek reached out via email on Sunday to the Biden administration for comment.
Hamas, which the U.S. designates as a terrorist organization, on October 7 waged the deadliest Palestinian militant attack on Israel in history, sparking the Middle Eastern nation to subsequently launch its heaviest-ever airstrikes on Gaza. As of Sunday, more than 1,300 people had been killed in Israel, the Associated Press reported. Over 2,300 people had been killed in Gaza, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, the AP reported.
The president’s unconditional backing for Israel, a longtime U.S. ally, has drawn praise from Republicans and Democrats alike, with Israeli officials also expressing their gratitude to the administration. However, Biden’s support has sparked some criticism with some progressive Democrats voicing concerns over the treatment of Palestinian civilians. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country is “at war” and has cut off supplies of food, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza, home to an estimated population of around 2.3 million.
Biden told Pelley that he wants to see a humanitarian corridor that would allow civilians to flee Gaza, saying his team is “talking” to Israeli leaders about whether a “safe zone” could be established.
“We’re also talking to Egyptians, whether there is an outlet to get these children and… women out,” Biden said.
During the segment, Biden also discussed American hostages where as many as 13 U.S. citizens are missing or believed to be held captive by Hamas in Gaza, according to the U.S. State Department on Sunday night, which confirmed 30 Americans were killed in the surprise attacks.
The president said that “we’re going to do everything in our power” to find missing Americans.