Amid Israel-Hamas conflict, Biden begins diplomatic visit with Netanyahu in Tel Aviv

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(WASHINGTON) — During a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Joe Biden said he was “deeply saddened and outraged” by the deadly hospital strike in Gaza, and seemed to determine that Israel was not to blame, saying it was “done by the other team.”

The comments came shortly after Biden arrived on Wednesday in Israel, as his administration seeks to both show unwavering support for an ally at war and also to attempt to slow movement toward a broader escalation.

Hundreds were killed on Tuesday in an explosion at a hospital in Gaza, officials said.

“I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday,” Biden said. “And based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you. But there’s a lot of people out there, not sure, so we’re gonna have to overcome a lot of things.”

Netanyahu had met Biden on the runway as he stepped off Air Force One in at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv at about 10:50 a.m. local time. The two embraced and shared words before continuing on to a waiting convoy of vehicles.

The extraordinary wartime visit comes as The White House attempts to maintain relationships with two allies in crisis, Israel and Ukraine.

Just as when Biden visited Kyiv in February, Biden arrives in Tel Aviv in close proximity to active fighting. About 44 miles away, along the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, Hamas and Israel have been fighting since Hamas militants stormed into Israel on Oct. 7, attacking villages and killing more than a thousand civilians.

Biden is expected to meet with Netanyahu in a “very small restricted bilateral meeting” on Wednesday, John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesperson, told reporters aboard Air Force One. Biden and his team are then expected to meet with a broader group of Netanyahu’s government, including members of the Israeli war cabinet.

“After that, he will have a chance to meet with some of the Israeli first responders, all those who are bravely putting themselves in harm’s way in response to these — the Hamas attacks and thank them for all their bravery and — and the work that they’re doing,” Kirby said.

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