By Enyichukwu Enemanna
US President Joe Biden, has backed Israel in efforts to eliminate Hamas militants, but rejected any move to occupy the Gaza Strip, a territory that has been deserted after Israel ordered the evacuation of 1.1 million residents ahead of an expected onslaught.
Biden denounced occupation of Gaza Strip as a “big mistake” in an interview with CBS on Sunday.
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, had vowed a retaliation after Hamas’ brutal rampage across southern on October 7, in which 1,300 people over 1,000 of them civilians were killed and at least 155 more taken hostage to Gaza.
Biden urged Israeli forces to minimise civilian casualties and take steps to avoid a dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Among victims killed by Hamas at the Oct 7 surprise attack include men, women, and children, as well as dozens of babies.
Some of the victims were mutilated and there were reportedly incidents of rape, and torture of children.
Reacting to the horiffic assault and Israel’s response, Biden said, “I think Israel has to respond. They have to go after Hamas. Hamas is a bunch of cowards. They’re hiding behind the civilians.”
Invading and “taking out the extremists” is a “necessary requirement,” he added.
Asked if Hamas must be eliminated entirely, he replied: “Yes I do.”
Responding to the question if he would support any occupation of Gaza by Israel, Biden replied: “I think it’d be a big mistake.”
“Look, what happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas, and the extreme elements of Hamas, don’t represent all the Palestinian people. And I think that it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza again.”
Israel took control of the Gaza Strip during the 1967 Six Day War, then unilaterally left in 2005, enabling the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority to take control of the enclave.