Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Tuesday that the premier had told US President Joe Biden during a phone call that the savagery seen during Hamas’s onslaught against Israeli civilians was the worst since the mass tragedies of the Holocaust, casting the Palestinian terror group as worse than the Islamic State group.
Netanyahu spoke with Biden Tuesday for the third time since the war’s outbreak on Saturday.
In a readout of his call with Biden, Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister told the US leader: “We’ve never seen such savagery in the history of the state” nor “since the Holocaust.”
“They took dozens of children, bound them up, burned them and executed them. They beheaded soldiers, they mowed down these youngsters who came to a nature festival, you know, put five jeeps around this depression in the soil and like Babyn Yar, they mowed them down, making sure that they killed everybody,” he said, referring to a desert rave where some 260 people were massacred and others were abducted to the Gaza Strip.
“They’re even worse than ISIS and we need to treat them as such,” Netanyahu said, a message that has been used by multiple Israeli ministries and many Israel advocates online, as well as by Biden himself.
The prime minister thanked Biden for his full backing and told him that Israel’s military campaign would be lengthy.
An Egyptian official told The Times of Israel earlier Tuesday that Jerusalem had informed Cairo that it is readying for a months-long ground incursion into Gaza and is not interested in talk of de-escalation in the interim.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke this evening with @POTUS Joe Biden for the third time since the outbreak of the war:
"We've never seen such savagery in the history of the State. They're even worse than ISIS and we need to treat them as such." pic.twitter.com/6MCv3baluZ
— Prime Minister of Israel (@IsraeliPM) October 10, 2023
In an emotional live address to his nation shortly after his call with Netanyahu, which was broadcast widely live in the US and Israel, Biden promised to ensure that the Jewish state would have what it needs to respond to the shocking weekend assault and disclosed some unprecedented and explicit details of the “sheer evil” inflicted by Hamas against Israel.
“There are moments in this life — I mean this literally — when a pure unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world,” Biden said in a hushed voice during a speech shown live on many American and Israeli television channels. “This is an act of sheer evil.”
“Parents butchered, using their bodies to try to protect their children; stomach-turning reports of babies being killed; entire families slain; young people massacred while attending a musical festival… women raped, assaulted, paraded as trophies,” he recounted with horror.
“The brutality of Hamas — this bloodthirstiness — brings to mind the worst — the worst rampages of ISIS,” he said.
“There are still so many families desperately waiting to hear the fate of their loved ones. Not knowing if they’re alive or dead or [being held] hostage. Infants in their mother’s arms, grandparents in wheelchairs, Holocaust survivors abducted and held hostage.”
“This is terrorism. But sadly, for the Jewish people, it’s not new,” Biden continued. “This attack has brought to the surface painful memories and the scars left by a millennia of antisemitism and genocide of the Jewish people.”
While he very carefully avoided voicing any criticism of Israel’s response to the Hamas attacks — airstrikes in Gaza that have left hundreds dead, including civilians — Biden did appear to implore Jerusalem to uphold international law in its counteroffensive against Hamas.
Biden said he had spoken with Netanyahu about “how democracies like Israel and the United States are stronger and more secure when we act according to the rule of law.”
“Terrorist purposely targets civilians, kill them. We uphold the laws of war,” he added.
The death toll in Israel from Hamas’s shock attack has surpassed 1,200, with close to 3,000 injured and the fate of an estimated 150 people abducted and taken to the Gaza Strip still unclear.