President Joe Biden has said the Hamas militant group should be eliminated, but warned it would be a mistake for Israel to occupy Gaza, calling instead for a “two-state solution”.
Speaking a week to the day since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, Mr Biden said Israel has “to go after Hamas” but said he would not support Israeli occupation.
“I think it’d be a big mistake,” he said.
A two-state solution would involve the creation of an independent nation next to Israel for five million Palestinians who live in Gaza and on the West Bank of the Jordan River.
Israel-Gaza latest: Rafah border crossing set to reopen this morning
“What happened in Gaza, in my view, is Hamas and the extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent all the Palestinian people,” Mr Biden said in an interview on CBS News’ 60 Minutes programme.
He added: “Going in but taking out the extremists, the Hezbollah is up north but Hamas down south. It is a necessary requirement.”
The president also warned Iran not to escalate the situation after the country’s foreign minister, Hossein Amirabdollahian, said “significant damages” would be inflicted upon America if the war expanded.
Other key developments include:
• Foreign national Palestinians will be able to use the Rafah border crossing to enter Egypt at 9am local time (7am BST) today;
• The UN has warned fuel at all hospitals across the Gaza Strip will only last for another 24 hours;
• Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to “demolish Hamas”, during an expanded emergency cabinet meeting in Israel;
• Israel’s Defence Forces (IDF) said it has killed a commander of the Hamas militant group in an airstrike;
• US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to return to Israel today after completing a six-country tour.
So far, at least 2,670 people have been killed in retaliatory Israeli airstrikes, a quarter of them children, and nearly 10,000 have been wounded.
Another 1,000 people were missing and believed to be under rubble, according to the Palestinian civil defence team.
In Israel, more than 1,400 people have been killed – the vast majority in the series of attacks carried out by Hamas on 7 October.
On Saturday, the deadline passed for up to 1.1 million people in the Gaza Strip to be offered safe passage south of the Wadi Gaza river by the IDF.
The Israeli military said some 600,000 Gazans had left the northern half of the territory, ahead of what is expected to be an all-out offensive by land, sea and air.
The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt is expected to open today from 9am local time (7am UK time), allowing aid deliveries and the evacuation of foreign national Palestinians, according to Sky News’ US partner NBC.
Kamel Khatib, the Embassy of Palestine representative for the Rafah border, told NBC that foreign nationals were expected to fly to Cairo from Al Arish airport, 30 miles from Rafah, and then on to their final destinations.
Dozens of foreign nationals have massed at the Rafah border after news spread that an agreement was reached to allow foreigners to exit Gaza via the crossing – but they were left stranded as it remained closed.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US was working with Egypt, Israel and the United Nations to get assistance through it.
Until now, a blockade had prevented fuel, food and water from entering Gaza and hundreds of tonnes of aid has also been stockpiling in Egypt, waiting for confirmation of its safe delivery into the area.
But Mr Netanyahu said he had agreed with President Biden to resume water supply to parts of southern Gaza.
When asked by CBS if he wanted to see a humanitarian corridor that allows Gazans out of the area safely, President Biden replied “yes”.
He added that he thought Israel would “act under the rules of war” and he was “confident” innocent people in Gaza would be able to access medicine, food and water.
It comes after the United Nations humanitarian office warned on Monday that reserves of fuel at all hospitals across the Gaza Strip were expected to last only around 24 hours more, placing “the lives of thousands of patients at risk”.
Meanwhile, in a show of unity, Israel’s expanded emergency cabinet, including former opposition lawmakers, met on Sunday.
“Hamas thought we would be demolished. It is we who will demolish Hamas,” Mr Netanyahu said during the meeting.
Israeli aircraft struck about 250 military targets on one day, claiming to kill the Hamas southern district commander, the military said.
Tanks have been placed on the border of Gaza in preparation for the ground offensive.