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MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 26 October) – US President Joe Biden was hedging when he said Wednesday that while he is sure Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip have killed civilians, he doesn’t believe the official death toll from Gaza’s Health Ministry.

“I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed. I’m sure innocents have been killed,” news reports quoted Biden as saying.

“It’s the price of waging a war,” he said. “I think the Israelis should be incredibly careful to be sure that they’re focusing on going after the folks that are propagating this war against Israel. And it’s against their interests when that doesn’t happen. But I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using,” he added.

What Biden forgot is that many media organizations, the UN, and human rights groups have always relied on the Health Ministry for statistics because it has been accurate during past conflicts.

As of Wednesday, the ministry said at least 6,546 Palestinians have been killed.

Biden’s attempt at a balancing act is understandable. The US is Israel’s top ally and arms supplier and donor. Israel, in turn, serves as Washington’s buffer against acts by other nations in the Middle East that may endanger American interests in the region.

But unlike in the past the world has grown more sympathetic and supportive of the Palestinians’ struggle for a free and independent homeland. The images of several flattened structures in Gaza and of corpses of civilians, including those of children, being pulled out of the rubble, was something humanity could not just ignore.

A picture tells a thousand words. No, Israeli bombs have killed thousands of Palestinian civilians. Israel is now widely regarded as the real villain in the conflict that has dragged on since its emergence as a UN-created state. Zionism may have seen better days.

There’s another numbers game though that Biden and Israel should worry about—the number of Arab states that may join the conflict on the side of Hamas if and when Israel launches ground operations in Gaza.

Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, three of Israel’s closest neighbors, are no longer belligerent toward either Israel or the US. Saudi Arabia, however, has put on hold the process of establishing diplomatic ties with Israel after the latter began air strikes in Gaza. And we’re not talking yet about Syria and Hezbollah, a well-armed powerful militia based in Lebanon.

Compared to the Israel Defense Forces, Hezbollah is inferior in terms of armaments. Still, Biden himself has expressly warned Israel against launching attacks on Hezbollah, saying waging war on two fronts would be a serious mistake.

Besides, many IDF soldiers are said to be inexperienced reservists. Observers believe this is the main reason Israel has been delaying its ground assault against Hamas.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at hmcmordeno@gmail.com.)

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