President Biden expressed skepticism about the official death toll reported by a Hamas-controlled organization in Gaza while acknowledging that civilian casualties are an unfortunate aspect of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.
During a press conference with Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Biden responded to data from the Gaza Health Ministry, run by Hamas, which proclaimed that over 6,000 innocent Palestinians had died since Israeli forces responded to terrorist attacks by Hamas on October 7—that attack resulting in more than 1,400 Israeli casualties.
Biden stated, “I am not confident in the accuracy of the numbers provided by the Palestinians. I am sure that innocent civilians have tragically lost their lives, which is an unfortunate consequence of warfare.”
He also emphasized the importance of Israel taking care to target those responsible for the conflict while avoiding harm to non-combatants. However, he remained skeptical of the numbers reported by the Palestinian side.
Earlier, White House spokesperson John Kirby and press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre had also expressed skepticism about information from the Gaza Health Ministry, given its affiliation with Hamas.
Some individuals and groups criticized President Biden’s remarks. Nihad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), expressed deep concern over what he perceived as dehumanizing comments by President Biden regarding the Palestinian casualties.
Waleed Shahid, a former spokesperson for the progressive Justice Democrats, suggested that Biden’s comments could be used in future political advertisements targeting voters in Michigan and Georgia, likely by Republican groups.
President Biden has consistently supported Israel’s right to respond with force following Hamas’s terrorist attacks but has increasingly emphasized the need to protect civilians and minimize harm to innocent individuals, particularly in Gaza, where humanitarian conditions are dire, with limited access to food, water, and medical supplies.
Moreover, despite the president’s call for Americans to reject anti-Palestinian sentiments, his stance on the conflict has effectively endorsed Israeli actions that are inflicting significant human suffering. His public endorsement of Israeli measures resulting in thousands of casualties, injuries, and hundreds of thousands of displacements has contributed to the dehumanization of Palestinians in the eyes of the public.
However, many of the president’s subsequent actions have been misdirected and potentially hazardous. These actions do not advance the long-term interests of either Israelis or Palestinians and pose a risk to the broader U.S. national interest.