President Biden called both sides Saturday in an effort to get them to dial back the heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip. One of the concerns he expressed to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, according to a White House release, was about the safety of journalists there. The president "reinforced the need to ensure their protection," the document said, after an Israeli strike destroyed a building in Gaza City earlier in the day that contained the offices of news organizations, including the AP. An Israeli release did not mention any response from Netanyahu about that attack but said the military warns building occupants before such strikes. It said a warning was given Saturday, the Hill reports. Netanyahu assured Biden that Israel was trying to limit civilian casualties, per the Times of Israel. Both countries said Biden repeated his support of "Israel's right to defend itself.
Biden also called Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday. The White House said Biden "stressed the need for Hamas to cease firing rockets into Israel," per Reuters. The US does not hold talks with Hamas, considering it a terrorist organization. The leaders also discussed the loss of civilian lives during the fighting, a US summary said. Biden "expressed his support for steps to enable the Palestinian people to enjoy the dignity, security, freedom, and economic opportunity that they deserve," the White House said, and reiterated to Abbas his backing for a two-state solution. It was the second conversation Biden has had this week with Netanyahu but his first call with Abbas. (Israel said its false report of a ground invasion was an honest mistake.)