Joe Biden says 'what's happening in Gaza is not genocide' as he rejects ICC arrest warrant for Netanyahu

Joe Biden says 'what's happening in Gaza is not genocide' as he rejects ICC arrest warrant for Netanyahu

Joe Biden has fiercely defended Israel, saying Israeli forces are not committing genocide in their campaign against Hamas militants in Gaza.

The US president made his comments at a Jewish American Heritage Month event at the White House on Monday, and rebuffed widespread criticism from pro-Palestinian protesters.

"What's happening in Gaza is not genocide. We reject that," said Mr Biden.

Mr Biden has in recent months faced growing political pressure from his own party over his handling of the Gaza conflict, as well as protests at many of his events around the US from pro-Palestinian advocates who have labelled him "Genocide Joe" for his steadfast support for Israel.

The Palestinian death toll has now climbed to more than 35,000 people, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, and Israel's siege has created dire humanitarian conditions in the territory.

South Africa has taken a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing it of a genocide in Gaza - something Israel vehemently rejects.

But on Monday, Mr Biden stressed his belief that Israel was the victim of the conflict, dating back to the October 7 attack on southern Israel by Hamas militants.

Israeli officials said 1,200 people were killed in the October 7 incursion, mainly civilians, and 240 people taken hostage.

Mr Biden said on Monday that US support for the safety and security of Israelis is "ironclad".

"We stand with Israel to take out [Hamas leader Yahya] Sinwar and the rest of the butchers of Hamas. We want Hamas defeated. We're working with Israel to make that happen," he said.

The president also rejected the International Criminal Court's prosecutor for saying he had requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his defence chief over alleged war crimes.

The ICC prosecutor on Monday also said he requested arrest warrants for Hamas chief Sinwar and two other Hamas leaders.

Mr Biden responded on Monday: “The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous.

“And let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence — none — between Israel and Hamas.

“We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security."

Negotiations have stalled between Israel and Hamas in trying to gain the freedom of sick, elderly and wounded hostages still held by the militants, but Mr Biden vowed not to give up trying to gain their release.

"We're going to get them home, we're going to get 'em home, come hell or high water," Mr Biden said.

Mr Biden has also called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, something that he reiterated in his commencement speech at Morehouse College on Sunday.