State Dept: U.S. ‘Stands’ by Israel, Palestine’s Right to Self-Defense, as Hamas Chants ‘Victory for Islam’

Rockets are launched towards Israel from Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, early on May 12, 2021. - Palestinian militants Hamas said on May 12 that they had fired more than 200 rockets into Israel, in retaliation for strikes on a tower block in the Israeli-blockaded enclave of Gaza, which …
SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images

The U.S. State Department, as Israel and Palestine continued to engage in the heaviest fighting since their 50-day war in 2014, declared that it “stands by” the “right” to self-defense of both bitter enemies despite the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas sparking the escalating conflict by firing hundreds of rockets.

Asked whether the Biden administration condemns the pledge by Prime Minister Ben Netanyahu to escalate the current Israeli strikes against Palestine, Ned Price, a State spokesperson, told reporters:

We stand by Israel’s right to defend itself. We also stand by the principle that Palestinians deserve the right to live in safety and security. I’m not here to adjudicate military operations, to say what is proportional precisely, what is not.

But the United States certainly stands by the principal … that any loss of civilian life is deeply limitable whether that is a Palestinian life or an Israeli life. That is why we’ve continued to call … for calm, continue to call on all sides to de-escalate and to exercise restraint in their actions.

The conflict has resulted in fatalities on both sides, including women and children.

Hamas terrorists, backed by the smaller Islamic Jihad militant group, launched hundreds of rockets into Israel, particularly areas near the Gaza Strip and Jerusalem, in the late hours of Monday and wee hours of Tuesday, according to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF).

In response, the IDF intercepted many of the rockets with its Iron Dome system, then launched a coordinated attack on terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip.

By Tuesday, Israel had intensified its attacks on the Gaza Strip, pulverizing a 12-story high-rise that housed important Hamas offices, killing at least three jihadis in their hideouts as Palestinian rockets rained down almost nonstop on parts of Israel.

On Wednesday (Israel time), Hamas reportedly fired a barrage of 130 rockets toward Tel Aviv in response to the destruction of the high-rise.

As the rockets’ rise pierced the skies, loud chants emanated from mosques across Gaza of “God is great,” “victory to Islam,” and “resistance.”

Soon after taking office, a spokesperson for Biden’s White House reportedly told Roll Call the U.S. intended to move the U.S. Embassy to Israel in Jerusalem, where it was relocated during the Trump administration, drawing the ire of several Muslim countries and jihadi groups.

Asked about the status of the disputed East Jerusalem on Tuesday, however, Price was telling reporters a different story, saying the “final status” of the holy city “needs to be determined” by Israel and Palestine.

Territorial disputes have long plagued the Israeli-Palestinian relationship, with Jerusalem at the epicenter of the ongoing conflict. Palestinians have designated East Jerusalem as the capital of their desired state.

There appears to be no end to the conflict in sight, the Associated Press (AP) conceded Tuesday night.

In a nationally televised address, PM Netanyahu said that Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant groups “have paid, and I tell you here, will pay a heavy price for their aggression.”

Israel had already killed dozens of militants and inflicted heavy damage on hundreds of targets, he asserted.

“This campaign will take time,” he emphasized. “With determination, unity, and strength, we will restore security to the citizens of Israel.”

In his televised address, Hamas’s exiled leader, Ismail Haniyeh, proclaimed that Israel bore responsibility for the conflict that has left civilian casualties on both sides, including women and children.

“It’s the Israeli occupation that set Jerusalem on fire, and the flames reached Gaza,” he said.

The deadly confrontation appears to have originated with a Palestinian mob attack in Jerusalem on May 7, the last Friday of the holiest month for Muslims, when terrorist attacks tend to escalate.

Some jihadi terrorist groups, including Hamas, engage in attacks during the holy month, believing that they will receive extra rewards if they embrace martyrdom during the holy month.

AP added Tuesday night:

Critics say heavy-handed Israeli police measures in and around Jerusalem’s Old City helped stoke nightly unrest. Another flashpoint has been the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, where dozens of Palestinians are under threat of eviction by Jewish settlers.

Confrontations erupted last weekend at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is the third-holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism. Over four days, Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinians in the compound who hurled stones and chairs at the forces. At times, police fired stun grenades into the carpeted mosque.

The spokesperson for State, Ned Price, said the Biden administration has been holding talks with both Israel and Palestinian leaders, although he could not provide any names of the latter group.

“If we have any more details to read out of those calls, let me let you know, but we have engaged regularly in an effort to discuss these areas of mutual concern,” Price said.

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