Biden says Netanyahu is making ‘a mistake’ in Gaza

Iran has raised the tone of its threats after the attack on its Syrian consulate. Israel ‘will be punished,’ said Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Palestinian Territories
An aid worker distributes sweets among women and girls in Rafah, April 10.Abed Rahim khatib (DPA/ Europa Press)
Luis de Vega

U.S. President Joe Biden has described Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza as a “mistake” in an interview broadcast Tuesday on the U.S. Spanish-language television network Univision, during which he also urged the parties to the conflict to agree to a ceasefire of between a month and a half and two months. “What I’m calling for is for the Israelis to just call for a ceasefire, allow for the next six, eight weeks total access to all food and medicine going into the country,” he said, expanding the same argument he used last week to pressure Netanyahu during a telephone call between the leaders.

The hardening of Biden’s tone comes as threats between Iran and Israel are increasing, although, for the moment, without escalating from words into action. The dialectical clash is being staged amid growing fears that tension between the two countries could spark a regional conflict. Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei used his speech Wednesday to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan to reiterate Israel will be punished for bombing the Iranian consulate in Damascus on April 1. Israel responded that if Tehran carries out attacks from its own territory there will be a direct armed response, according to Foreign Minister Israel Katz.

“When the Zionist regime attacks an Iranian consulate in Syria, it is as if it has attacked Iranian soil. That malicious regime has made a wrong move. It should be punished, and it will be punished,” the Iranian leader posted on X, echoing the words of his speech, which he delivered to a crowd while holding a rifle in his left hand. “If Iran attacks from its territory, Israel will react and attack in Iran,” Katz responded on social media, directly tagging the Iranian leader in a text repeated in Hebrew and Persian.

Subsequently, Khamenei published another message in which he criticized “some Muslim governments” for helping Israel. “The Zionists suck the blood of a country for their own benefit when they gain a foothold in a country. Those helping the Zionist regime are helping bring their own destruction.”

Of the dozen people killed in the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, seven were members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Three days earlier, another bombing attributed to Israel killed some 40 people near the Damascus International Airport. Threats of retaliation have prompted thousands of Israelis to stockpile food, water, and electricity generators in the face of a possible attack by Tehran. Iran backs and supports both the Palestinian fundamentalists of Hamas and the Shiite Islamist group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Pressure from Tehran has been added to pressure from Washington. The United States, despite being Israel’s primary ally, has maintained a certain level of criticism over Netanyahu’s decisions. Biden has once again publicly aired his dissatisfaction with the way in which the Israeli leader is conducting a conflict in which over 33,000 Palestinians have been killed in six months and a large proportion of the 2.3 million inhabitants of the Strip are on the verge of starvation.

The U.S. president also described the deaths of seven employees of the NGO World Central Kitchen (WCK) on April 1 in an Israeli strike as “outrageous.” He also emphasized that “there is no excuse” for Israel to maintain its blockade on food and medicine supplies for the Palestinians in the Strip. Biden said he had confirmed with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt that everything was in place for these supplies to reach the Gazan population. “It should be done now,” Biden said.

The latest proposal put forward by the U.S. on a ceasefire — to which there has still been no response — would involve in a first phase the release of 40 of the 133 hostages still held in the Strip in exchange for 900 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, of whom 100 would be considered “high-ranking,” according to the Israeli press. There are, however, serious doubts about the number of hostages still alive in the hands of the different militia factions in Gaza. Hamas has even acknowledged, according to Israeli media, that it is unable to gather together 40 live hostages between women, minors, the elderly, the sick, and the wounded.

The U.S. president and the Israeli prime minister held a telephone conversation last week in which Biden told Netanyahu that U.S. support was contingent on Israel allowing humanitarian access to Gaza. Israel subsequently announced the opening of the Erez border crossing, which separates the north of the Strip from Israel, and the port of Ashdod, but these transit points still remain closed.

Danger of escalation in Lebanon “is real”

The level of tension on the border with Lebanon, another of Israel’s open fronts since the Hamas attacks of October 7, also remains high. “The danger of escalation is real,” according to the commanding officer of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), Spanish Lieutenant-General Aroldo Lázaro. “There is no military solution to the current confrontation and violence; a political and diplomatic solution is the only way forward,” he said through a statement in which he called on the parties — Israel and Hezbollah — to end the fighting. “For the end of Ramadan, on the occasion of Eid al-Fitr, UNIFIL calls for a return to the cessation of hostilities, and a move towards a permanent ceasefire and a long-term solution to the conflict,” Lázaro posted on X.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get more English-language news coverage from EL PAÍS USA Edition

Tu suscripción se está usando en otro dispositivo

¿Quieres añadir otro usuario a tu suscripción?

Si continúas leyendo en este dispositivo, no se podrá leer en el otro.

¿Por qué estás viendo esto?


Tu suscripción se está usando en otro dispositivo y solo puedes acceder a EL PAÍS desde un dispositivo a la vez.

Si quieres compartir tu cuenta, cambia tu suscripción a la modalidad Premium, así podrás añadir otro usuario. Cada uno accederá con su propia cuenta de email, lo que os permitirá personalizar vuestra experiencia en EL PAÍS.

En el caso de no saber quién está usando tu cuenta, te recomendamos cambiar tu contraseña aquí.

Si decides continuar compartiendo tu cuenta, este mensaje se mostrará en tu dispositivo y en el de la otra persona que está usando tu cuenta de forma indefinida, afectando a tu experiencia de lectura. Puedes consultar aquí los términos y condiciones de la suscripción digital.

More information

Archived In

Recomendaciones EL PAÍS
Recomendaciones EL PAÍS