President Joe Biden on Wednesday made a clumsy joke about intelligence assessments that a Palestinian missile misfired and hit a Gaza hospital, saying that the terrorists have ‘got to know how to shoot straight’.
Israel immediately swore that they were not behind the explosion at the al-Ahli hospital in Gaza City, and U.S. analysts have come to the same conclusion.
Hamas blamed Israel for the strike
Hamas insists that the Israelis are responsible for the strike on the hospital, but the U.S. and Israel believe it was caused by a rocket fired by Hamas ally Islamic Jihad towards Israel, which misfired.
Biden, who spent seven and a half hours in Israel on Wednesday, called Egypt’s president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, from Air Force One on the way home from Israel, in order to discuss efforts to deliver humanitarian assistance to Gaza.
He also took the unusual step of coming to the back of his plane to discuss the situation with reporters, and responsibility for the hospital attack.
Was Islamic Jihad responsible for the hospital strike?
‘I’m not suggesting that Hamas deliberately did it either,’ said Biden. Hamas is not thought to be behind the strike, but rather their ally, Islamic Jihad.
‘It’s that whole thing – got to know how to shoot straight.’
He added that Hamas is well known for its misfiring of rockets.
Asked about skepticism of Israel’s claim that Palestinians were behind the hospital attack, Biden replied: ‘I can understand that. You would notice I don’t say things like that unless I have faith in the source which I’ve gotten.
‘Our defense department says it was highly unlikely’ that it came from Israel, he added. Biden said it had a ‘different footprint,’ to other missiles – before stopping short of providing more detail.
‘You notice I didn’t say it at first,’ he said, referencing his delay of hours before commenting. ‘I wanted to make sure that I knew.
‘I’m not suggesting that Hamas deliberately did it either.
‘It’s that whole thing – got to know how to shoot straight.’It’s not the first time that Hamas has launched something that didn’t function,’ he said.
But after accepting Israel’s version of events, Biden dodged a question when asked directly whether Israel was following the rules of war.
Biden said that, immediately after the brutal October 7 Hamas attack inside Israel, he discussed with Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu that democracies like the US and Israel follow the rules of war, and don’t target civilians.