“Destroy Hamas Not Palestine” – Biden Tells Israel

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Sunday he believes the Hamas militant group must be eliminated but there should be a path to a Palestinian state, after top U.S. officials warned the war between Israel and Hamas could escalate.

Biden did not think American troops would be necessary on the ground as Israel has one of the “finest fighting forces,” even as American warships headed to the area amid growing clashes on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.

Israel unleashed a ferocious bombing campaign over Gaza in retaliation for unprecedented attacks by Hamas eight days ago that killed some 1,300 Israelis, mostly civilians.

When asked if he believes Hamas must be eliminated entirely, Biden said “Yes, I do. But there needs to be a Palestinian authority. There needs to be a path to a Palestinian state,” he said during a CBS 60 Minutes interview broadcast on Sunday.

The U.S. President warned it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza but that “taking out” Hezbollah and Hamas was a “a necessary requirement.” He said “It would be a mistake to … for Israel to occupy … Gaza again.”

Israel captured and occupied the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East war. It withdrew its settlers and troops from Gaza in 2005, before Hamas’ takeover of the Strip in 2007.