WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden is set to give his first major speech Tuesday following Hamas’ brutal massacre in Israel in a display of U.S. support for Israel as war erupts in the Middle East.
Biden will speak from the White House State Dining Room at 1 p.m. ET.
The address comes after Biden gave brief remarks Saturday, declaring “the United States stands with the State of Israel” and that “Israel has the right to defend itself and its people,” immediately following the deadliest attack on Israel in decades.
More than 1,000 Israelis and at least 11 Americans were killed when Hamas militants crashed through the Israeli border along the Gaza Strip and launched a surprise invasion. Israel has responded with attacks on Gaza that intensified with more bombings Tuesday.
An estimated 100 to 150 people in Israel were kidnapped by Hamas militants and are being held captive in Gaza. That includes some Americans. Hamas leaders have warned they will execute hostages if Israel does not cease attacks on Gaza.
On Tuesday morning, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were scheduled to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about “coordinated efforts with partners and allies” to defend Israel, the White House said.
Is the Israel-Hamas war a test for President Biden?
The attack is another major foreign policy test for Biden who is already struggling to keep assistance flowing to Ukraine.
It jeopardizes the administration’s efforts to help Israel and Saudi Arabia formalize relations, one of the ways Biden had hoped would stabilize the Middle East and allow attention to be focused on the growing challenge of China.
And Republicans are trying to lay some of the blame for the attacks on the administration, pointing to a recent deal to free Americans held in Iran that gave Iran access to $6 billion in frozen funds. Iran is a longtime supporter of Hammas.
The administration has responded that the money, which has not yet been released, can only be spent for humanitarian purposes.
What is Hamas?
Hamas was founded in 1987 during the first Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Hamas is an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiya, or Islamic resistance movement. The group’s charter calls for establishment of an Islamic Palestinian state that would replace the current state of Israel.
The political wing of Hamas was born in later years. Hamas’ political wing has controlled Gaza since winning elections in 2006, which prompted Israel to enforce a blockade on Gaza.
It was founded by a Palestinian activist connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, a transnational Islamist organization with ties to Egypt. Iran provides Hamas with financial, material and logistical support and it also cooperates with Hezbollah, another Iran-backed, U.S.-designated terrorist group, based in Lebanon.
Is Hamas a terrorist organization?
The militant organization is committed to the destruction of Israel and has been designated a terrorist group by the U.S., the EU and various nations.
The group has vowed to annihilate Israel and has been responsible for many suicide bombings and other deadly attacks on civilians and Israeli soldiers.
Over the years, Hamas received backing from Arab countries, such as Qatar and Turkey. Recently, it’s moved closer to Iran and its allies.
Why did Hamas attack Israel?
Hamas has said it attacked Israel in response to mounting Palestinian suffering under Israeli occupation and Israel’s and Egypt’s 16-year blockade of Gaza that has decimated Gaza’s economy.
Israel has made peace deals with Arab counties in recent years but not made concessions in its long conflict with the Palestinians. The U.S. has tried to reach a deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, a bitter rival of Hamas’ Iranian backers.
Meanwhile, Israel’s new far-right government was working to cement Israeli settlements in the West Bank despite Palestinian opposition.
Hamas leaders say an Israeli crackdown on militants in the West Bank, continued construction of settlements − which the international community has deemed illegal − thousands of prisoners in Israeli jails, and its ongoing blockade of Gaza pushed it to attack.
How did the attack unfold?
Hamas’ surprise sea, land and air attack resulted in the largest one-day killing of Jews since the Holocaust.
The attack began with thousands of rockets fired from inside the Gaza Strip into Israel early Saturday. About an hour later, Hamas gunmen crossed the Israeli border at different locations and began attacking residential areas and military bases.
Hamas militants killed an estimated 260 people at the Supernova music festival in a section of open desert near Kibbutz Re’im, about 2 miles from the Gaza border. An unknown number were taken hostage.
Contributing: Associated Press
Reach Joey Garrison on X, formerly known as Twitter, @joeygarrison.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: President Biden to give remarks on Hamas’ attack in Israel