Biden takes CREDIT for Israel and Hamas ceasefire and promises stronger 'Iron Dome' defense
PRESIDENT Joe Biden touted his role in the Israel and Hamas ceasefire and vowed to help build a stronger "Iron Dome" defense.
Israel and Hamas agreed to a ceasefire on Thursday to bring to an end the 11-day missile blitz across the Gaza Strip that left hundreds dead.
At a brief press conference on Thursday afternoon, Biden said he spoke to both Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi about negotiating the peace.
"Prime minister Netanyahu informed me that Israel has agreed to a mutual, unconditional ceasefire," Biden said.
"The Egyptians have now informed us that Hamas and the other groups in Gaza have also agreed."
While Biden applauded the ceasefire and spoke about how to keep people in both Israel and Palestine safe, he also said the US backs Israel's decision to respond to terrorism threats.
"In my conversation with President Netanyahu, I commended him for the decision to bring the current hostilities to a close in less than 11 days.
"I also emphasized what I have said throughout this conflict: The United States fully supports Israel's right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups that have taken the lives of innocent civilians in Israel."
The president also pledged to help Israel build back up its Iron Dome defense system, pointing out that the US helped develop it.
"I assured him my full support to replenish Israel's Iron Dome system to ensure its defenses and security in the future," Biden said.
The agreement between Israel and Hama was brokered by Egypt.
The fighting began May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem after clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
President Netanyahu's security cabinet approved the truce on the basis of what one official reportedly called "quiet in exchange for quiet."
Since the fighting began, health officials in Gaza say 232 Palestinians – including 65 children – have been killed and more than 1,900 wounded in aerial bombardments.
Israel says it has killed at least 160 combatants in Gaza.
Authorities put the death toll in Israel at 12, with hundreds of people treated for injuries in rocket attacks that have caused panic and sent people rushing into shelters.
During his Thursday speech, Biden also explicitly stated that his administration would be working with Palestinian authorities, not the organization behind this month's attacks, Hamas.
"I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and security and enjoy equal meaures of freedom, prosperity and democracy," Biden said.
"My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy toward that end."
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