It became evident to U.S. officials that Israeli leaders believed mass civilian casualties were an acceptable price in the military campaign. In private conversations with American counterparts, Israeli officials referred to how the United States and other allied powers resorted to devastating bombings in Germany and Japan during World War II — including the dropping of the two atomic warheads in Hiroshima and Nagasaki — to try to defeat those countries.
Publicly, Mr. Biden’s language began to shift.
On Oct. 14, at an event in Philadelphia, Mr. Biden emphasized that “the overwhelming majority of Palestinians had nothing to do with Hamas and Hamas’s appalling attacks, and they’re suffering as a result as well.”
Four days later, during a brief visit to Israel, Mr. Biden pushed Mr. Netanyahu and his war cabinet to stop bombing the area of the Rafah gate between Gaza and Egypt to allow aid to flow in. Eventually, Mr. Biden announced that 20 aid vehicles, a tiny fraction of what was needed, would be allowed in.
“I was very blunt with the Israelis,” Mr. Biden told reporters aboard Air Force One as they traveled back from Israel. “Israel has been badly victimized. But, you know, the truth is that if they have an opportunity to relieve suffering of people who have nowhere to go, that is what they should do.”
He said that if Israel did not follow that advice, “they’ll be held accountable in ways that may be unfair,” but he added: “If you have an opportunity to alleviate the pain, you should do it, period. And if you don’t, you’re going to lose credibility worldwide.” [Continue reading…]