President Biden and the leaders of Western allies reiterated support for Israel’s right to defend itself on Sunday amid attacks from Hamas terrorists while also urging the Jewish State to protect civilians and follow international humanitarian law.
Biden, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, France President Emmanuel Macron, Germany Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Italy Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and United Kingdom Prime Minister Rishi Sunak released a joint statement Sunday welcoming the release of two hostages by Hamas and calling on remaining hostages to be freed as well.
‘The leaders reiterated their support for Israel and its right to defend itself against terrorism and called for adherence to international humanitarian law, including the protection of civilians,’ the statement read. ‘They welcomed the release of two hostages and called for the immediate release of all remaining hostages. They committed to close coordination to support their nationals in the region, in particular those wishing to leave Gaza.’
More than 5,700 people have been killed in Gaza and Israel since Hamas launched its largest attack against Israel in decades on Oct. 7, prompting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to declare war on the terrorist group. Thousands more have been wounded, and many others have been taken hostage by Hamas and raped, tortured and murdered.
Americans Judith and Natalie Raanan, who are mother and daughter, were originally taken by Hamas from the Nahal Oz kibbutz in southern Israel near the Gaza Strip before they were released following Qatari mediation efforts.
The meeting among the Western leaders comes after Biden spoke earlier in the day with Netanyahu about humanitarian aid to Gaza and efforts to free the more than 200 people – including U.S. citizens – held hostage by Hamas.
In their statement, the leaders supported the arrival of first aid convoys in Gaza and committed to continuing to work with regional partners to ensure the residents of Gaza have safe access to food, water, medical care and other humanitarian assistance.
‘The leaders welcomed the announcement of the first humanitarian convoys to reach Palestinians in need in Gaza and committed to continue coordinating with partners in the region to ensure sustained and safe access to food, water, medical care, and other assistance required to meet humanitarian needs,’ the statement read.
They also agreed to ‘continue close diplomatic coordination, including with key partners in the region, to prevent the conflict from spreading, preserve stability in the Middle East, and work toward a political solution and durable peace.’
Biden and Netanyahu discussed in their meeting the arrival of the first aid convoys to Gaza and pledged continued flow of humanitarian assistance to the region. The two leaders also spoke about efforts to secure the release of additional hostages and ways to assist civilians wishing to evacuate.
‘The leaders affirmed that there will now be continued flow of this critical assistance into Gaza,’ the White House said in a statement.
‘The President expressed appreciation for Israel’s support in helping to accommodate the release of two American hostages. The leaders discussed ongoing efforts to secure the release of all the remaining hostages taken by Hamas – including U.S. citizens – and to provide for safe passage for U.S. citizens and other civilians in Gaza who wish to depart.’