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Western leaders are showing unified support for Israel in its war against Hamas

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Western leaders are showing unified support of Israel in its war against Hamas.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Yesterday, U.S. President Joe Biden visited Tel Aviv and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet. This morning, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak landed in Israel. The visits follow nearly two weeks of war since Hamas launched a surprise attack that killed at least 1,400 people. Israel has retaliated with airstrikes in Gaza and has killed thousands more.

MARTÍNEZ: For more, we're joined by NPR's Aya Batrawy in Jerusalem. So it was a whirlwind visit for President Biden. What are the main takeaways?

AYA BATRAWY, BYLINE: Well, there are three. The first was affirming again his unwavering commitment to Israel's security. Biden met with grieving families and first responders in Tel Aviv. He acknowledged the pain here and said the scale of those October 7 attacks for a country the size of Israel was like 15 September 11 attacks. And then that leads really to the second takeaway, which is he also had words of caution for Israel. There are diverse opinions here about Israel's treatment of Palestinians and the war, but there's also widespread anger and a feeling that Israel's survival is dependent on wiping out Hamas. So President Biden said he understood there must be justice. But he also said, quote, "while you feel that rage, don't be consumed by it."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.

BATRAWY: And he followed that by also saying that the vast majority of Palestinians are not Hamas. And the timing of all of this was less than 24 hours after a catastrophic blast at a hospital in Gaza, where thousands of people were sheltering. The Palestinian Health Ministry says around 470 people were killed in that blast. Many, if not most, were children. Israel blames an errant militant rocket, but Palestinians and the rest of the Middle East, including the governments here, say it was Israel. And so the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza is on display every day that this war continues. And that leads to the third takeaway from Biden's visit. He got Israel's war cabinet and the prime minister to agree to let some humanitarian aid into Gaza.

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah, that's right. So when might that get in?

BATRAWY: Biden says it could get in Friday. Israel bombed the roads leading to Gaza's border crossing with Egypt, where a huge convoy of aid trucks is ready to go in. So those repairs on those roads could happen today. But Biden says it will only at most be 20 trucks at first, and the U.N. will do the distribution inside Gaza. And he warned that if any of that goes to Hamas, the aid will stop. Israel also says this aid is only for southern Gaza. So Gaza's biggest hospital and everyone in the north might not get any of this aid. And Israel did not say if fuel could enter, so that means hospital generators could still shut down. The only electricity for most people in Gaza now is coming from generators. I talked to Tasneem Ahl in Gaza City, where Israel told people to evacuate. She says there's nowhere else to go. The south and these so-called safe zones aren't safe either. NPR's producer down there saw kids being pulled from the rubble of their homes in recent days. But let's listen to what Ahl told me about how hard things are.

TASNEEM AHL: The last time that I drank water is yesterday in the morning. Everything here is getting worse. Every day is harder than the last. There is no place here in Gaza we can go.

MARTÍNEZ: You know, we keep saying Israel's expected ground invasion of Gaza. Now that the president has come and gone, when might that happen?

BATRAWY: Well, there are hundreds of thousands of reservists that have been called up at Israel's border. But in recent days, Israel has indicated there may or may not be a ground invasion. I think there's real fears this could lead to heavy losses among Israeli soldiers, an intractable situation in Gaza, and that this could also draw other militant groups and engulf the region.

MARTÍNEZ: That's NPR's Aya Batrawy in Jerusalem. Thank you.

BATRAWY: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

A Martínez
A Martínez is one of the hosts of Morning Edition and Up First. He came to NPR in 2021 and is based out of NPR West.
Aya Batrawy
Aya Batrawy is an NPR International Correspondent. She leads NPR's Gulf bureau in Dubai.