US President Joe Biden says he has told Israel's prime minister that if it’s possible to secure the release of hostages in Gaza ahead of a potential ground operation, he should do so.
Biden flatly said he had not sought assurances from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he would hold off on a ground operation while hostages remain in custody.
“What I have indicated to him is that if that's possible to get these folks out safely, that's what he should do,” Biden said at The White House. “It is their decision, but I did not demand it.”
"Obviously, they're in jeopardy,” Biden continued. “The question is whether or not there's any way of getting them out. If we can get them out, we should get them out.”
Biden also said he has no confidence in civilian death figures provided by the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry, but said it was imperative for Israel to focus on targeting Hamas leaders as the country responds to this month’s terror attacks.
“I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed,” Biden said. “I'm sure innocents have been killed, and it's a price of waging war.”
Israel must be “incredible careful to be sure that they're focusing on going after the folks that are propagating this war against Israel,” rather than civilians, he said.
“It's against their interests when that doesn't happen,” he said. “But I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using.”