Joe Biden on Wednesday said that Israelis “had the right to defend themselves” against Hamas attacks following a phone call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but said he hoped both sides were able to deescalate soon. The US President, speaking for the first since clashes began on Monday, said after a phone call with the Israeli leader: "My expectation and hope is that this will be closing down sooner than later, but Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory." Mr Biden's comments came as Israel faced an escalating conflict on two fronts on Thursday, scrambling to quell riots between Arabs and Jews on its own streets after days of exchanging deadly fire with Palestinian militants in Gaza. The President's top diplomat, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, earlier said there was a "clear distinction" between Hamas rocket launches against Israel and Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, appearing to back the Jewish state in the escalating conflict. "[There is] a very clear and absolute distinction between a terrorist organisation, Hamas, that is indiscriminately raining down rockets - in fact, targeting civilians - and Israel's response defending itself," said Mr Blinken.