Biden Tells Netanyahu U.S. Support Hinges on Treatment of Gaza Civilians

President Biden threatened on Thursday to condition future support for Israel on how it addresses his concerns about civilian casualties and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, attempting for the first time to leverage American aid to influence the conduct of the war against Hamas.

During an evidently tense 30-minute call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, Mr. Biden went further than ever before in pressing for change in the military operation that has inflamed many Americans and others around the world. But the White House stopped short of directly saying the president would halt arms supplies or impose conditions for their use, as fellow Democrats have urged him to do.

“President Biden emphasized that the strikes on humanitarian workers and the overall humanitarian situation are unacceptable,” the White House said in a statement. “He made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers. He made clear that U.S. policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps.”

The statement was the sharpest issued by the White House in the six months of Israel’s war against Hamas, underscoring the president’s growing frustration with Mr. Netanyahu, who has defied American pressure to do more to reduce the suffering of civilians in Gaza. Mr. Biden, who has staunchly expressed support for Israel’s right to respond to the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack, lashed out over this week’s killing of seven aid workers by Israeli military forces.

A group inspected damages after an airstrike in Rafah, the southern Gaza city, on Thursday.Credit…Fatima Shbair/Associated Press

John F. Kirby, a White House spokesman, said the president wants to see “concrete tangible steps” to reduce the violence against civilians and increase access for humanitarian aid to Gaza. He said the White House expects Israel to make announcements of specific changes within hours or days.

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