Biden sends envoy to Israel to defuse tensions as protests break out across US

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<p>President Biden is sending the State Department’s top Israel-Palestine expert to help de-escalate the violence</p> (AP)

President Biden is sending the State Department’s top Israel-Palestine expert to help de-escalate the violence

(AP)

The Biden administration is sending a top State Department official to help de-escalate the violence between Israel and Hamas.

Hady Amr, the department’s top official for Israeli-Palestinian issues, will travel to the war-torn region to help defuse the conflict, Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced on Wednesday.

“I’ve asked Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Hady Amr to go to the region immediately to meet with Israeli and Palestinian leaders,” Mr Blinken said at a press conference. “He will bring to bear his decades of experience, and in particular he will urge on my behalf and on behalf of President Biden a de-escalation of violence.”

This week has seen some of the worst bloodshed of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in years. Palestinian rocket attacks have killed at least five Israelis, the country’s officials have said, and Israeli airstrikes have killed at least 56 Palestnians, including 14 children, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, former president Donald Trump has spoken up to blame president Biden for the violence.

“Under Biden, the world is getting more violent and more unstable because Biden’s weakness and lack of support for Israel is leading to new attacks on our allies,” Mr Trump wrote in a statement.

The ex-president made it clear he was siding with Israel, and said it was up to the Palestinians to “end the violence, terror, and rocket attacks.”

Secretary Blinken, meanwhile, avoided laying the blame on one side or the other, leaving room for Mr Amr’s peacemaking efforts.

“The United States remains committed to a two-state solution,” Mr Blinken said. “This violence takes us further away from that goal.”

Mr Trump also took aim at The Squad, a group of progressive Democrats in Congress led by Rep Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

“Unbelievably,” he added, “Democrats also continue to stand by crazed anti-American Rep Ilhan Omar, and others, who savagely attack Israel while they are under terrorist assault.”

Ms Omar and Ms Ocasio-Cortez have both spoken up in recent days to criticize Israel’s role in the conflict.

“Israeli air strikes killing civilians in Gaza is an act of terrorism,” Ms Omar tweeted on Monday. “Palestinians deserve protection. Unlike Israel, missile defense programs, such as Iron Dome, don’t exist to protect Palestinian civilians. It’s unconscionable to not condemn these attacks on the week of Eid.”

Average Americans have protested the violence as well – on both sides – at demonstrations in New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington, DC. In Manhattan, pro-Israel and pro-Palestine demonstrators clashed in front of the Israeli consulate.

“They’re killing my kids. They’re killing my brother,” protester Ahmad Soliman told CBS New York. “They are inside the mosque since two days [ago] with no food, with no nothing.”

A pro-Israel protester countered that her family was at risk as well.

“My mother lives on the edge of Gaza. She’s in a shelter as we speak,” Sophie Sassoon told CBS. “I will not sit and watch the only democracy in the Middle East be ripped apart.”

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