President Obama on Wednesday said he has “no sympathy” for Hamas, the Palestinian group labeled a terrorist organization by the United States that has warred for the past month with Israel.
Speaking to reporters at the State Department at the close of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Obama expressed “great sympathy for ordinary people who are struggling within Gaza,” but also offered repeated support for Israel’s right to defend itself.
He also said he believed Israel had been largely successful in closing tunnels from Gaza to Israel that had been built up to launch attacks on Israel.
In the long term, he said, he hoped to rebuild a Gaza that “has been badly damaged.”
In addition, he added, “there has to be a recognition that Gaza cannot sustain itself permanently, closed off from the world.” And he added, a peaceful resolution in Gaza “will have to involve” the Palestinian Authority.
The Obama administration has repeatedly criticized Israeli attacks on civilians, with the State Department labeling a Sunday strike on a school, where civilians had gone for shelter as “disgraceful.”