GAZA CITY—More than a quarter-million Gazans fled their homes and some tried to escape the strip for Egypt as Israeli forces launched new rounds of airstrikes in the enclave and exchanged fire with militants in Lebanon.
The bombardments following Saturday’s devastating attack by Hamas—which killed more than 1,200 Israelis—raised concerns about an escalating humanitarian crisis in Gaza, while skirmishes along Israel’s northern border threaten a regional expansion of the conflict.
At an event with Jewish community leaders Wednesday, President Biden called the Hamas attacks on Israel the “deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust” and a “campaign of pure cruelty.” He added, “It matters that Americans see what is happening. I have been doing this a long time—I never really thought that I would see and have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children.”
Hamas has denied that its militants beheaded children.
An administration official later said that the president was referring to what the Israeli government and soldiers have said. A spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said on Thursday they could say with “relative confidence” that beheadings of children happened in Be’eri kibbutz near the Gaza Strip.
Israelis have been shocked at the intensity of the violence meted on civilians by the Hamas attacks. “They didn’t distinguish between anyone. Everything with a pulse, they massacred them,” said an organizer of the music festival close to Gaza where Hamas killed more than 250 revelers. “This is cruelty…It’s incomprehensible.”