President Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday — more than a week after Hamas terrorists slaughtered more than 1,300 people, including at least 30 Americans, and took dozens of hostages to the Gaza Strip.
Biden’s expected trip was announced Monday night by Secretary of State Antony Blinken after the top US diplomat met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The 80-year-old president’s visit will come as the Israeli military prepares to invade Gaza to clear out Hamas.
Biden has presented himself as an ardent ally of Israel after the Oct. 7 surprise attack, in which Hamas abducted nearly 200 people, including some Americans.
The terrorist group has threatened to murder the hostages on camera in response to Israeli operations inside Gaza, which Hamas has ruled since 2007.
Thousands of US citizens are attempting to leave Israel and Gaza as the conflict deepens.
Other senior US politicians have visited Israel since the Hamas rampage, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) who on Sunday sheltered with four other senators amid air-raid sirens.
Schumer told The Post in an interview that he visited Israel to draft a “long extensive list” of defensive and offensive military aid requests from the Jewish state, which he wants Congress to approve “as quickly as possible.”
The conflict has spurred divisions among Democrats. Several House members, including Reps. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) are calling for a ceasefire, which Schumer said he rejected.
“If the threat of Hamas is not eliminated, they will do it again,” the majority leader said.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken also have visited Israel in recent days.
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This is not Biden’s first trip to a war-torn state. He visited Kyiv in February in a show of support for Ukraine against Russia’s invasion and his re-election campaign released an ad last month depicting him as a brave and hand-on commander in chief.
The president’s trip comes as many Republicans blame him for relaxing financial pressure on Iran, which multiple reports indicate helped plan Hamas’ onslaught.
Biden in August approved the release of $6 billion in frozen Iranian oil funds as part of a prisoner swap. The money is held by Qatar and was supposed to finance food and medicine. A Treasury Department official last week told House Democrats privately that the money would not be dispensed, but White House officials have refused to publicly confirm it.
Although he’s presented himself as a staunch defender of Israel, Biden also has urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lead a measured response as the Israeli government urges Gazans to relocate away from the territory’s northern area.
Biden said in a “60 Minutes” interview that aired Sunday that it would be a “big mistake” for Israel to seek to permanently occupy Gaza, a prospect the country’s government has ruled out.
With Post wires
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