Joe Biden, president of the United States, plans to travel to Tel Aviv, Israel on Wednesday, Antony Blinken, the secretary of state has revealed.
The trip is meant to show U.S. full backing for Israel as it continues bombarding Gaza. Israel is preparing to launch a ground assault on the strip.
John Kirby, the country’s national security council spokesman also said Biden will visit Amman on the same Wednesday. He told reporters Monday night that the US President will meet with King Abdullah, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the Egyptian president; and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president.
Biden is offering full backing to Israel in the current round of violence between the neighbours.
The State Department has said 30 U.S. citizens have been killed in the conflict so far and more than a dozen Americans are yet to be accounted for. Officials of the department have also said they believe at least a few Americans are being held hostage by Hamas.
The Pentagon has moved an aircraft carrier strike group into the region in an attempt at deterrence. There is a significant concern that the conflict could spread, something Biden and his administration want to avoid, NPR reported.
In an interview with CBS’ 60 Minutes that aired Sunday, Biden said he believed it was necessary for Israel to be “taking out the extremists” both in Hamas and Hezbollah. But he said he thinks it would be “a big mistake” for Israel to occupy Gaza.
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Meanwhile, Hopes for a brief ceasefire in southern Gaza to allow foreign passport holders to leave the besieged Palestinian enclave and aid to be brought in were dashed on Monday.
This came up as Israeli bombardments were intensifying ahead of an expected ground invasion.
Residents of Hamas-ruled Gaza said the overnight strikes were the heaviest yet in nine days of conflict. Many houses were flattened and the death toll rose inexorably, they said.
Diplomatic efforts have been underway to get aid into the enclave, which has endured unrelenting Israeli bombing since the Oct. 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants that killed 1,300 people, the bloodiest single day in the state’s 75-year history.
Israel has imposed a full blockade and is preparing a ground invasion to enter Gaza and destroy Hamas, which has continued to fire rockets at Israel since its brief cross-border assault.
On Monday, rocket-warning sirens sounded in several towns in southern Israel, the Israeli military said.
Israeli troops and tanks are already massed on the border.
Authorities in Gaza said at least 2,750 people had so far been killed by the Israeli strikes, a quarter of them children, and nearly 10,000 wounded. A further 1,000 people were missing and believed to be under rubble.
As the humanitarian crisis deepened, with food, fuel and water running short, hundreds of tons of aid from several countries have been held up in Egypt pending a deal for its safe delivery to Gaza and the evacuation of some foreign passport holders through the Rafah border crossing.