Any move by Israel to occupy the Gaza Strip again would be a “big mistake,” US President Joe Biden said in an interview released on Sunday, as Israeli troops prepared for a ground invasion.

Israel, seeking vengeance for an attack by Hamas on October 7, has declared war on the militant group, warning more than a million people in northern Gaza to move south ahead of the operation.

Asked by CBS news program 60 Minutes if he would support any occupation of Gaza by the American ally, Biden replied: “I think it’d be a big mistake.”

Hamas “don’t represent all the Palestinian people,” he continued. But invading and “taking out the extremists” is a “necessary requirement,” he added.

Israel has faced grave warnings about the implications of putting boots on the ground in Gaza, with aid groups warning of a humanitarian disaster, fears of the conflict escalating, and the challenges of separating militants from civilians in the impoverished, densely occupied territory.

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Palestine President’s Hamas comment censored

President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority made comments criticising Hamas during a phone call with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

However the comments, originally published by the Palestinian Authority‘s official news agency (WAFA), were suspiciously redacted to remove the reference to the terrorist organisation.

The original statement emphasised that Hamas’ policies and actions “do not represent the Palestinian people”, with the PLO being the sole legitimate representative.

The revised statement instead stressed that the policies, programs, and decisions of the PLO represent the Palestinian people as their sole legitimate representative, without mentioning any specific organisation.

It is unclear why the reference to Hamas was removed, and there were no immediate comments from Abbas‘ office, WAFA, or Hamas.

President Abbas has a long-standing opposition to Hamas, which controls Gaza and ousted Fatah party forces loyal to Abbas in 2007. Reconciliation talks between the two factions have so far been unsuccessful.

Biden says Palestine still needs an authority

When asked if Hamas — whom Biden described as “a bunch of cowards” — must be eliminated entirely, he replied: “Yes I do.” “But there needs to be a Palestinian authority.

“There needs to be a path to a Palestinian state,” he continued, reiterating the longstanding US call for a two-state solution.

60 Minutes journalist Scott Pelley also asked Biden if he could foresee US troops joining the war.

“I don’t think that’s necessary,” Biden, who pulled US troops out of Afghanistan and has insisted that none will be sent to aid Ukraine as it holds off a Russian invasion, replied.

The US has already deployed two aircraft carriers to the eastern Mediterranean in a powerful show of support for Israel.

Door-to-door arrests

As the conflict continues, ex-senior diplomat and security adviser to the Israeli Government, Nimrod Novik, said some military and political leaders want Israeli troops to undertake an 18 month-long operation of door-to-door arrests in Gaza.

“Others, I think, are far more sober and not talking about demolishing Hamas, but rather depriving Hamas of their ability to threaten us,” he said.

Meanwhile, Golan Vach, the colonel of the Israel National Search and Rescue Unit said Hamas and their supporters “must die”.

“Not only have I seen a baby beheaded by Hamas, I held it in my hands,” he told The Sun.

“We must wipe this evil off the face of the earth, once and for all.”

The Hamas attack saw fighters shoot, stab and burn to death more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians.

Israel’s reprisal attacks in the days since have flattened neighbourhoods and killed at least 2,670 people in Gaza, the majority ordinary Palestinians.

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By Rahul

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