Netanyahu rejects Biden's call for de-escalation and says Israel's Gaza offensive will continue

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  • Netanyahu rebuffed Biden's call for a de-escalation in Israel's Gaza offensive.

  • The Israeli leader said the operation will continue "until its aim is met."

  • This announcement came amid growing international calls for a cease-fire.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said that he's "determined" to continue the offensive in Gaza, rebuffing President Joe Biden's call for an immediate and significant "de-escalation" in the fighting.

Netanyahu said the operation will continue "until its aim is met," per the Associated Press.

The Israeli prime minister thanked the US for its support, but said the offensive will move forward in order "to return the calm and security to you, citizens of Israel."

When asked for clarification on the "aim" of the operation, Itay Milner, a spokesperson for the Consulate General of Israel in New York, told Insider: "The goal is to stop the rockets from being fired now, and to irreparably harm Hamas' terrorist infrastructure for years to come."

The White House earlier on Wednesday released a readout of a call between Biden and Netanyahu that said the president told the Israeli leader he "expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire."

Netanyahu has resisted growing international calls for a cease-fire. In a meeting with foreign ambassadors prior to his call with Biden, the Israeli prime minister said, "We're not standing with a stopwatch. We want to achieve the goals of the operation. Previous operations lasted a long time so it is not possible to set a timeframe."

The Biden administration has tiptoed around the issue of a cease-fire, initially avoiding taking a public position on it. Amid mounting pressure in Washington from top Democrats, Biden on Monday expressed support for a cease-fire. His conversation with Netanyahu on Wednesday marked a gradual increase in the level of public pressure Biden is exerting on Israel. The president has faced criticism from progressives over his approach to the fighting, and particularly for not showing more concern for Palestinian civilians.

Israel has pummeled Gaza with airstrikes over the past 10 days, leveling residential buildings and displacing thousands of people in the process. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said at least 58,000 Palestinians have been displaced as a consequence of the bombing campaign.

As of Wednesday, at least 219 Palestinians have been killed, including 63 children, per BBC News. Hamas rocket attacks have killed at least 12 in Israel, including two children.

Top human rights groups have raised concerns about potential war crimes committed by both sides during the fighting.

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