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President Biden during a news conference at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

President Biden told reporters Wednesday it's his "expectation and hope" that there will soon be an end to fighting between Israel and Hamas, which has killed scores of Palestinians and several Israelis.

What they're saying: Biden, after speaking with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said that he hoped the conflict would be "closing down sooner than later," despite Israel's government announcing plans to scale up its military offensive.

  • Biden added that "Israel has a right to defend itself when you have thousands of rockets flying into your territory."
  • In a call with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Wednesday, Secretary of State Tony Blinken "expressed his condolences for the lives lost" in the violence and condemned the Hamas rocket attacks, according to a statement from State Department spokesperson Ned Price.
  • Along with calling for an end to the violence, Blinken "expressed his belief that Palestinians and Israelis deserve equal measures of freedom, dignity, security and prosperity," per Price.

Of note: Comments by Biden and members of his administration have angered progressives in his Democratic Party, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) who called it "wrong."

  • She tweeted that "blanket statements like these" with "little context or acknowledgement of what precipitated this cycle" of violence "dehumanize Palestinians" and imply the U.S. will "look the other way at human rights violations," pointing to the "expulsions of Palestinians and attacks on Al Aqsa" Mosque.

What to watch: Per Axios' Barak Ravid, the Israeli security cabinet approved Wednesday military plans for broadening the operation against Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Gaza.

Why it matters: Israeli officials said there is no deadline for ending the operation but it will focus for now on air strikes with no ground forces.

For the record: Netanyahu said at the cabinet meeting that Israel doesn’t want a cease fire at the moment, per Ravid.

  • Both Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi added that the international community understands the Israel's actions and doesn’t put pressure on ending the operation for now.

Go deeper: Casualties pile up with no signs of ceasefire from Israel, Hamas

Go deeper

May 11, 2021 - World

Explosions in Tel Aviv and Gaza as Israeli-Palestinian crisis escalates

Israel's Iron Dome aerial defense system intercepts a rocket fired from Gaza over southern Israel. Photo: Menahem Kahana/AFP via Getty

Tel Aviv — The Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant groups fired dozens of rockets from the Gaza Strip toward Tel Aviv and other cities in central Israel on Tuesday night, a new step in the current conflict that is likely to be followed by increased Israeli air strikes in Gaza.

Why it matters: The current crisis began in Jerusalem but has evolved into a military conflict across Israel and Gaza that remains on a path of escalation.

Updated May 12, 2021 - World

Gaza crisis: Casualties pile up with no signs of ceasefire from Israel, Hamas

Palestinians in the Gaza Strip leave their neighborhood on Wednesday following an explosion. Photo: li Jadallah/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tel Aviv — With Israel and Hamas now engaged in their most destructive fight in seven years, the Biden administration is dispatching a State Department official to join the de-escalation efforts.

The latest: The Israeli air force attacked a meeting of senior Hamas military leaders on Wednesday in Gaza and reported it had killed the Gaza City Brigade commander and the heads of Hamas’ cyber arm and weapons research and development department, along with at least three other senior officials.

May 12, 2021 - World

Negotiations to oust Netanyahu stall amid Jerusalem crisis

Netanyahu holds a cabinet meeting this week. Photo: Amit Shabi/POOL/AFP via Getty

Efforts to form a new Israeli government and oust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have come to an almost complete halt amid the escalation with Hamas.

Why it matters: Opposition leader Yair Lapid is six days into a 28-day mandate, and seemed on track to strike a coalition deal with Naftali Bennett, a right-wing kingmaker. But the latest crisis could make those efforts nearly impossible.

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