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Providing Both Bombs and Food, Biden Puts Himself in the Middle of Gaza’s War

U.S.Providing Both Bombs and Food, Biden Puts Himself in the Middle of Gaza’s War

From the skies over Gaza these days fall American bombs and American food pallets, delivering death and life at the same time and illustrating President Biden’s elusive effort to find balance in an unbalanced Middle East war.

The president’s decision to authorize airdrops and the construction of a temporary port to deliver desperately needed humanitarian aid to Gaza has highlighted the tensions in his policy as he continues to support the provision of U.S. weaponry for Israel’s military operation against Hamas without condition.

The United States finds itself on both sides of the war in a way, arming the Israelis while trying to care for those hurt as a result. Mr. Biden has grown increasingly frustrated as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel defies the president’s pleas to do more to protect civilians in Gaza and went further in expressing that exasperation during and after his State of the Union address this past week. But Mr. Biden remains opposed to cutting off munitions or leveraging them to influence the fighting.

“You can’t have a policy of giving aid and giving Israel the weapons to bomb the food trucks at the same time,” Representative Ro Khanna, Democrat of California, said in an interview the day after the speech. “There is inherent contradiction in that. And I think the administration needs to match the genuine empathy and moral concern that came out last night for Palestinian civilian lives with real accountability for Netanyahu and the extreme right-wing government there.”

The newly initiated American-led air-and-sea humanitarian campaign follows the failure to get enough supplies into Gaza by land and represents a sharp turnaround by the administration. Until now, American officials had eschewed such methods as impractical, concluding that they would not provide supplies on the same scale as a functional land route and would be complicated in many ways.

Airdrops are actually dangerous, as was made clear on Friday when at least five Palestinians were killed by falling aid packages, and they can create chaotic, hazardous situations without a stable distribution system on the ground. The construction of a temporary floating pier will take 30 to 60 days, if not longer, according to officials, and could entail risk for those involved, although Mr. Biden has stipulated that it be constructed offshore with no Americans on the ground.


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