BIDEN: CIVILIANS MUST BE PROTECTED: Over the weekend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced what he called “our second independence war” as Israeli troops backed by fighter jets attacked some 600 targets in Gaza.

“This is the second stage of the war, which our cause is very clear: to destroy the military and government ability of Hamas and return our victim’s home,” Netanyahu said in a Saturday news conference. “Citizens of Israel, soldiers are fighting at the moment, in the air, ground, and sea, inside Gaza and outside Gaza. … They are ready to make sure that the murderers are going to pay the price for the massacre. They’re going to abolish this evil in order for all humanity.”

With deaths of Palestinian civilians exceeding 8,000 by some counts, President Joe Biden implored Netanyahu to allow more to protect innocent life, according to a White House readout of a Sunday phone call between the two leaders. “The president underscored the need to immediately and significantly increase the flow of humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of civilians in Gaza,” as well as reiterated that Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself against terrorism must be done “in a manner consistent with international humanitarian law that prioritizes the protection of civilians.”

The Pentagon said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had a similar conversation with his counterpart, Yoav Gallant, underscoring the “importance of protecting civilians” and the “urgency of humanitarian aid delivery.”

NETANYAHU: ISRAEL’S CRITICS ‘WRONG’: In his Saturday news conference, Netanyahu rejected the charge that the thousands of civilian deaths in Gaza amounted to a war crime. “The people that are blaming us for crime against humanity, our soldiers, they’re completely wrong,” he said. “We call the civilian population to please go to the safe area of the Strip,” saying the deaths were the result of the cynical tactic of Hamas in using their population as human shields.”

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