MANILA — Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has urged US President Joe Biden to intervene and dissuade Israel from continuing its attacks in Gaza, which he described as genocide because of the high number of civilian deaths.
The war between Israel and Hamas "must stop immediately," Abbas said in a televised speech on Saturday evening.
"What our people are enduring in terms of killing and destruction surpasses human capacity. What is America waiting for in the face of the ongoing genocide against our people in Gaza? Isn't the shedding of the blood of children, women, and the elderly enough to awaken the world's conscience?" the Palestinian leader said.
"President Biden, I call on you, with all your official and humane qualities, to stop this humanitarian catastrophe, this genocide against our innocent people," he said, underscoring that Biden "bears a special responsibility due to his international standing and significant influence on the Israeli occupation authorities."
Abbas challenged the United States' support of Israel's war and questioned whether the month-long attacks in the besieged Gaza Strip should still be considered as self-defense when "over 42,000 Palestinians, mostly children and women, have fallen victim" to the shelling of the Palestinian enclave.
"This war must stop immediately. How can this genocide be self-defense? In reality, this genocide is a war crime that warrants punishment," he said.
Israel has claimed that Hamas is operating from hospitals in Gaza.
"Our Palestinian people deserve to live on their homeland with freedom and dignity. They will remain steadfast on their land until they attain their legitimate rights to independence and statehood, with Jerusalem as the capital," Abbas said.
He also urged the United States to to provide relief to Gazans under siege.
As of November 18, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported that 12,012 Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank were killed, while over 32,300 others were wounded.
The current war began on October 7, after terrorist organization Hamas — which has been operating in Gaza — launched a surprise attack against Israel, killing over 1,200 people.
The current fighting is part of a bigger conflict over the Gaza Strip, which is blockaded by Israel and by Egypt. That conflict is in turn part of a bigger and decades long over the Palestinian territories.