Netanyahu brushes off Biden call for 'significant de-escalation' in Gaza, says Israel 'determined to continue'

Wednesday, 19 May, 2021 - 23:38

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday brushed off President Biden's call for a "significant de-escalation" of the conflict in Gaza, saying he is "determined to continue" the operation against the terrorist organization Hamas – just as Biden is facing pressure from the progressive arm of his own party on the issue.

Biden spoke to Netanyahu early Wednesday, and the White House said the two "had a detailed discussion of the state of events in Gaza, Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States."

"The President conveyed to the Prime Minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire," the White House said in a statement.

But, after a visit to military headquarters hours later, Netanyahu said he "greatly appreciates the support of the American president," but said Israel will push ahead "to return the calm and security to you, citizens of Israel."

He added that he is "determined to continue this operation until its aim is met."

Israel has been responding to rocket attacks from Hamas with measures of its own, including airstrikes targeting key Hamas military complexes. The state is facing criticism for the reported 200+ Palestinians killed, as well as strikes such as the one on an evacuated media building – although the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that it was being used by Hamas, with media outlets being used as cover.

Hamas has launched over 3,000 rockets into Israel since the conflict started nine days ago, and the state's Iron Dome has intercepted and dismantled more than 90%, according to the Israeli military.