US condemns attacks on Israel, vows defence support
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US condemns attacks on Israel, vows defence support

US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York City in September 2023.
US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York City in September 2023.

WASHINGTON: The United States on Saturday condemned the attacks by "Hamas terrorists" against Israel and vowed to ensure the key US ally has the means to defend itself.

President Joe Biden described the assault as "horrific" and said that he had spoken to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to underline that the United States stood "ready to offer all appropriate means of support".

As the attacks threatened to trigger a wider conflict, Biden warned "against any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage in this situation" after the Iran-backed Palestinian militant group Hamas launched air, sea and land strikes on Israel.

Biden stressed that Israel -- which the United States has supplied with billions of dollars of arms -- has "a right to defend itself and its people".

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin reaffirmed Washington's "unwavering" commitment, saying "over the coming days the Department of Defense will work to ensure that Israel has what it needs to defend itself and protect civilians."

Since its foundation, Israel has received lavish US military aid -- more than $125 billion, according to a US State Department report from 2021.

This has helped it build "one of the world's most capable, effective militaries," the report said.

- Trump weighs in -

Former president Donald Trump weighed in Saturday, blaming Biden, without evidence, for indirectly funding the attacks.

"These Hamas attacks are a disgrace and Israel has every right to defend itself with overwhelming force," Trump said in a statement.

"Sadly, American taxpayer dollars helped fund these attacks, which many reports are saying came from the Biden Administration."

Israel normalised relations decades ago with neighbouring Egypt and Jordan and in 2020 added three more Arab states to the list -- the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Morocco -- in what then president Trump considered his towering foreign policy achievement.

The so-called "Abraham Accords" also included sweeteners from Trump, including a promise to sell jets to the United Arab Emirates.

"We brought so much peace to the Middle East through the Abraham Accords, only to see Biden whittle it away at a far more rapid pace than anyone thought possible," Trump, who plans to stand against Biden in the 2024 election, added. "Here we go again."

Before Saturday's assault, Biden had been hoping to transform the Middle East -- and score a pre-election diplomatic victory -- by securing recognition of the Jewish state by Saudi Arabia, the guardian of Islam's two holiest sites.

Netanyahu, who has had rocky relations with Biden, last month said he believed a deal was "within our reach" and credited the US president.

Biden has publicly criticised Netanyahu for overhauling Israel's judiciary, a step seen by critics as undermining democracy.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said Saturday that "this unprecedented and brutal attack by Hamas is not only supported by Iran, it was designed to stop peace efforts between Saudi Arabia and Israel.

"A peace agreement between those two nations would be a nightmare for Iran and Hamas."

"It would serve Israel and the world well to respond to this outrage by launching an operation that will destroy the Hamas organisation -- not just contain it," he added.

Hamas is backed by Iran, a fierce foe of Israel, with Iran's supreme leader declaring he was "proud" of Saturday's attacks.

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