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US President Joe Biden confirms he will travel to Israel | US News


US President Joe Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday, amid fears about the war with Hamas expanding into a larger conflict.

The US leader’s visit has been confirmed as Israel carried out strikes on southern Gaza despite telling civilians seeking safety to flee there.

Gaza’s interior ministry says at least 49 Palestinians were killed in Israeli airstrikes on Khan Younis and Rafah overnight.

The World Health Organisation has said there have been 115 attacks on health facilities in Gaza since Hamas’s surprise attack on Israel on 7 October.

Meanwhile, Iran has told Israel it should expect “pre-emptive action” in the coming hours in response to its retaliatory strikes on Gaza.

Iran’s foreign minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said: “The resistance front is capable of waging a long-term war with the enemy… in the coming hours, we can expect a pre-emptive action by the resistance front.

“Leaders of the resistance will not allow the Zionist regime to take any action in Gaza.”

Iran’s foreign minister did not expand on what he meant by resistance front, but the term Axis of Resistance can refer to a loose alliance among Iran, Palestinian militant groups, Syria, the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and other factions.

Other key developments
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• UN operation in Gaza ‘on verge of collapse’
• Senior US general in Israel for talks with country’s military
• 581% increase in antisemitic attacks across UK
• Israeli military strikes Hezbollah targets in Lebanon

Israel-Gaza latest: Hamas ‘releases first video of hostage’

View of the destruction at Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp, following Israeli strikes on the enclave, October 14
Image:
Destruction at Gaza’s Jabalia refugee camp, following Israeli strikes

US president to send ‘crystal clear message’ to Israel’s enemies

Mr Biden is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and reaffirm the country’s solidarity with Israel during his visit, US Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said.

Announcing the travel plans, Mr Blinken said the president’s visit comes at a critical moment, where he will make clear that “Israel has the right and the duty to defend its people from Hamas and other terrorists and prevent future attacks”.

The decision comes after nine hours of negotiations between Mr Biden, Mr Netanyahu and other officials.

Mr Biden will also reiterate the “crystal clear message” to any state or non-state trying to “take advantage” of the current situation and attack Israel: “Don’t.”

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It comes after around 2,000 US troops will be ready to deploy within 24 hours – instead of the usual 96 hours – to the Israeli region, which could provide assistance such as medical aid if needed, a US official said.

After meeting with Israeli officials, Mr Biden is expected to travel to Amman to meet with King Abdullah II of Jordan, Egyptian president, Abdel Fattah al Sisi, and Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas.

‘Keep civilians out of harm’s way’

As the humanitarian situation in Gaza worsens, Mr Blinken said the US and Israel had agreed to develop a plan to enable humanitarian aid to reach civilians.

Palestinians wounded in Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip arrive at a hospital in Khan Younis 
Pic:AP
Image:
Palestinians arrive at a hospital in Khan Younis. Pic: AP

Few details were given, but the plan would include “the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm’s way”, he said.

It comes as a blockade of aid remains in place at Egypt’s Rafah crossing, contributing to fears that citizens could starve and hospitals would run out of electricity.

Israel is also set to brief the US leader on its war aims and how it will conduct operations in a way that minimises civilian casualties, and enables humanitarian assistance to get to Gaza without benefitting Hamas.

Explainer:
What is the Rafah border crossing and who controls it?

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Gaza: ‘Most of our patients are children’

The country’s leaders are planning for a ground offensive on Gaza, which is expected to be by land, sea and air.

Work between the US and Israel will also focus on securing hostages taken by Hamas on 7 October, Mr Blinken said.

The Israeli military said 199 captives were being held in the besieged territory, which includes some Americans and Britons.

Palestinians wait to cross to the Egyptian side at Rafah border, Gaza Strip
Pic:AP
Image:
Palestinians wait to cross to the Egyptian side at Rafah border. Pic: AP

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Sky News team takes cover as sirens ring out

A Hamas official demanded earlier on Monday that 6,000 Palestinian men and women detained in Israel’s jails be released in exchange for hostages in Gaza.

It comes after one of two British sisters who went missing after the Hamas attack on southern Israel has been confirmed dead.

The family of Yahel, 13, have told BBC News she was murdered alongside her mother Lianne, while her sister Noiya, 16, and father Eli are still missing.

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