Joe Biden defies pressure to give Israel a deadline to end the campaign against Hamas

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President Joe Biden noted that the United States has not given Israel a time frame to end its military campaign against Hamas, despite mounting pressure from international allies, officials in his administration and members of the Democratic Party to pressure Israel to rein in its operation in Gaza.

Biden said on Wednesday that Israel’s war against the armed Islamic group will end “when Hamas no longer retains the ability to kill and abuse and do terrible things” to Israel.

“How long this will last, I don’t know,” Biden said at a news conference on Wednesday after meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping outside San Francisco.

Israel declared war on Hamas after the group launched a surprise attack on October 7 that killed 1,200 people in southern Israel, according to Israeli officials, and pledged to expel it from the Gaza Strip.

The attack on Gaza killed more than 11,000 people, according to Palestinian officials, and hospitals gradually stopped working over the past two weeks as Israeli forces penetrated deep into the coastal enclave and restricted shipments of fuel, water and food.

“One thing has been established…Hamas has headquarters, weapons and equipment under this hospital and I suspect others,” Biden said, referring to Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest hospital in Gaza, which the Israeli army entered earlier on Wednesday in what he described as an operation “Targeted” to find Hamas weapons and infrastructure.

Israel claims that the hospital is located above a network of underground tunnels that house the group’s leadership centers.

Biden said the situation created a “terrible dilemma” for Israel, but distinguished between Hamas, which he said had vowed to attack Israel “over and over again,” and the Israeli military, which he said was acting deliberately.

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“The IDF … they recognize that they have an obligation to be as careful as possible in pursuing their targets,” Biden said. “It’s not like they’re rushing into the hospital and knocking on doors and pulling people aside and shooting them indiscriminately.”

The US President also indicated progress in talks between Qatar, Hamas, Israel and others to release some hostages held by Hamas, who, according to Israel, number more than 200 hostages.

Biden noted that Israel had already agreed to stop fighting as part of this effort, but backed off and said he was “going into a lot of details.”

“I’m somewhat optimistic,” Biden said.

While Israel has agreed to pauses of several hours each day, Washington is pushing to extend them to a few days in order to allow more humanitarian aid into the besieged Strip and allow time to extract the hostages.

US officials said they believed up to 10 US citizens were among the hostages held by Hamas.

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