Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was ‘determined’ to continue the operation in Gaza until his objectives had been met, shrugging off U.S. President Joe Biden’s demand to de-escalate hostilities.
In a statement, he said he appreciated American support but would push ahead until calm had been restored.
His response came hours after Biden told him in a phone call to scale back attacks that have killed hundreds of Palestinians.
It marked a shift from Biden’s public position of support for Israel’s right to defend itself from Hamas rocket attacks and follows another night of strikes against targets in Gaza.
President Biden urged Prime Minister Netanyahu to de-escalate strikes on Gaza in a phone call Wednesday before leaving the White House for a trip to New London, Connecticut
At least six people died in airstrikes in Gaza Wednesday as international pressure for a ceasefire grew
Relatives of Palestinian Mahmoud Shtawi, 19, mourn during his funeral on Wednesday in Gaza City after he was killed in an Israeli air strike
But the president has faced pressure from within his own party to take a tougher line against Israeli strikes.
A spokeswoman offered more details about Wednesday’s phone call, which is the fourth between the two men.
‘The two leaders had a detailed discussion on the state of events in Gaza, Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements, and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States,’ Jean-Pierre told DailyMail.com and other reporters traveling with the president aboard Air Force One.
The aim is a ‘sustainable calm,’ she added.
‘We have had over 60 calls, from the president on down, with senior leaders in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and other leaders in the region,’ she said.
‘The president has done this for a long time, for decades, he believes this is the approach we need to be taking. He wants to make sure we end the violence and the suffering we have seen for the Palestinian and Israeli people.’
But she declined to respond directly when pressed for how Netanyahu had responded to Biden’s statements on the call.
A rocket fired from Gaza which landed on a road near Ad Halom just outside Ashdod on Wednesday. There were no injuries reported
Biden’s stance on Israel faces opposition from within his own party and on Tuesday Rep. Rashida Tlaib confronted the president, reportedly saying he must do more to address what she and other progressives see as Israeli aggression
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestures as he shows a slideshow during a briefing to ambassadors to Israel at a military base in Tel Aviv on Wednesday
On Wednesday, Israeli airstrikes killed at least six people in Gaza as Netanyahu shrugged off growing international pressure for a ceasefire.
And Biden’s new public stance follows earlier reports that he privately told Netanyahu that he could not shield him from criticism indefinitely.
Biden has repeatedly said Israel has the right to defend itself while rockets are fired from Gaza.
But he came face to face with the anger within his own party about Israeli aggression on Tuesday, when he was confronted by Rep. Rashida Tlaib during a visit to Detroit.
She told the president he must do more to protect Palestinian lives and human rights.
‘Palestinian human rights are not a bargaining chip and must be protected, not negotiated,’ Tlaib told him, according to her congressional office.
Netanyahu has so far refused to consider a truce, saying Israel was fighting to restore peace and maximize the chances that a ceasefire with Hamas would hold.
A Palestinian uses a slingshot during an anti-Israel protest over a cross-border violence between Palestinian militants in Gaza and the Israeli military, near Hawara checkpoint near Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on Tuesday
Relatives of Journalist Yousef Abu Hussein, a Palestinian, weep after he was killed in an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City today
Family and friends mourn during the funeral of Israeli man, Yigal Yehoshua, who died after succumbing to his wounds, sustained during Arab-Jewish violence in the mixed city of Lod, at a cemetery in Moshav Hadid on Tuesday
Smoke rises after Israeli army carried out attacks over buildings in Gaza City, as hostilities entered their tenth day
‘There are only two ways that you can deal with them (Hamas): You can either conquer them, and that’s always an open possibility, or you can deter them, and we are engaged right now in forceful deterrence, but I have to say we don’t rule out anything,’ Netanyahu told foreign ambassadors in Tel Aviv on Wednesday.
He added the offensive would end when it had achieved its aims.
‘We’re not standing with a stopwatch,’ he said in remarks reported by Israeli media from a closed question-and-answer session.
‘We are taking care of the operation’s objectives.’
Fighting began May 10 when Hamas fired rockets toward Jerusalem after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, a flashpoint site sacred to Jews and Muslims.
The IDF began releasing details of its ‘hit list’ as commanders called for more time to continuing hunting Hamas leaders, despite growing calls for a ceasefire. Fighting has now entered its tenth day, with attacks continuing from both sides
Heavy-handed police tactics at the compound and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers had inflamed tensions.
At least 219 Palestinians have been killed in the current fighting, including 63 children and 36 women, with 1,530 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad say at least 20 of their fighters have been killed, while Israel says the number is at least 130. Some 58,000 Palestinians have fled their homes.
Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a soldier, have been killed.
The Israeli Defense Forces have launched hundreds of airstrikes it says are targeting Hamas’ militant infrastructure, while Palestinian militants have fired more than 3,700 rockets at Israel, with hundreds falling short and most of the rest intercepted. The rockets have reached a number of Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv, and have brought life to a standstill in areas near Gaza.