President Joe Biden issued his first blunt public warning to Iran since the Hamas attack on Israel – after avoiding specific mention of the regime despite what the administration calls its longstanding support for Hamas.
We’ve ‘made it clear to the Iranians: Be careful,’ Biden said at a meeting with Jewish leaders at the White House Wednesday.
He made the comment while once again stating that the U.S. would back Israel, detailing elements of a new arms shipment that includes interceptors for its Iron Dome defense as well as ammunition for the Israel Defense Force.
It came after an emotional speech on Tuesday where he did not specifically mention Iran, but instead issued a generalized warning to states as well as non-state actors not to try to exploit the situation in the region.
US President Joe Biden listens to Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff speak at a roundtable with Jewish community leaders in the Indian Treaty Room of the White House on October 11, 2023. (Photo by Brendan SMIALOWSKI / AFP) (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Israel has been bombing Gaza following the horrific attack by Hamas forces, with troops gathering on the border with Gaza for what could be a ground invasion.
Biden told Jewish leaders it would be ‘bizarre’ for him to detail what the U.S. was doing to free hostages in Gaza, but assured them his team was working on it around the clock.
He also expressed hope that whatever might be planned could be fruitful, despite years of escalating violence. ‘I think there is a chance to end this in a way that makes it very difficult to be repeated,’ he said.
‘I know we can overcome this,’ Biden said, before voicing optimism about a region that has bedeviled many of his predecessors.
‘I think we can change the Middle East,’ he said.
The administration has struggled to balance its approach to Iran since the October 7 attack, which included brutal murders of Israeli residents and civilians.
Top officials have cited Iran’s longstanding support for Hamas, even intelligence has not established ‘direct evidence’ linking Iran to Saturday’s attack, as White House national security spokesman John Kirby put it Wednesday.
He bristled at a question he said ‘implies that we’re just not waking up to the fact that they’ve been supporting Hamas and Hezbollah and other terrorist networks.’
He said the administration had sanctioned 400-plus entities in the country.
‘Nobody has turned a blind eye to Iranian destabilizing behavior,’ said Kirby.
He said Hamas wouldn’t haver ‘been able to function at all had it not been for propping up by the Iranian regime, but we haven’t seen any specific evidence that tells us they were witting, involved in the planning, or involved in the resourcing and the training that went into this very complex’ attack.
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