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Diplomats renew calls for Gaza aid; Iran warns Israel

Diplomats renew calls for Gaza aid; Iran warns Israel
Palestinians search for casualties under the rubble at a site of a house destroyed by Israeli strikes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip Oct 16, 2023.
PHOTO: Reuters

GAZA/JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON - US President Joe Biden will visit Israel on Wednesday for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and make clear Israel has the right to defend itself, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Tuesday (Oct 17).

Blinken said after lengthy talks with Netanyahu that Biden will reaffirm solidarity with Israel, which has widely been expected to launch a ground assault in Gaza.

Israel has vowed to annihilate the Hamas movement that rules Gaza after fighters burst into Israel on Oct 7, killing 1,300 people, mainly civilians, in the deadliest day in the country's 75-year-old history.

Biden will make clear that "Israel has the right and indeed the duty to defend its people from Hamas and other terrorists and to prevent future attacks", Blinken told reporters after hours of talks with Israel's war cabinet in Tel Aviv. During those talks, he was forced to shelter in a bunker for five minutes when sirens went off.

​He said Israel would brief Biden on its war aims and strategy and on how it will conduct operations "in a way that minimises civilian casualties and enables humanitarian assistance to flow to civilians in Gaza in a way that does not benefit Hamas."

The US and Israel agreed to develop a plan that will enable humanitarian aid from donor nations and multilateral organizations to reach civilians in Gaza, Blinken said.

Earlier, Iran's foreign minister said Israel would not be allowed to act in Gaza without consequences, warning of "preemptive action" in the coming hours.

Gaza authorities say more than 2,800 people have been killed there, around a quarter of them children, and more than 10,000 wounded are in hospitals desperately short of supplies.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told state TV: "Leaders of the Resistance will not allow the Zionist regime to take any action in Gaza. ... All options are open and we cannot be indifferent to the war crimes committed against the people of Gaza."

"The resistance front is capable of waging a long-term war with the enemy (Israel)... in the coming hours, we can expect a preemptive action by the resistance front," he said, without elaborating.

Iran refers to regional countries and forces opposed to Israel and the United States as a "resistance front." Amirabdollahian said it was not limited to Hezbollah in Lebanon and added: "This front was formed throughout the region to preserve the independence of nations and counter repeated aggressions by the Zionist regime over the past years."

Last week, Iran's top authority Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tehran was not involved in the Hamas attack on Israel, but hailed what he called Israel's "irreparable" military and intelligence defeat.

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