President Joe Biden on Saturday spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, urging the leaders to allow humanitarian aid to the region, and affirmed his support for efforts to protect civilians.
The weekend calls in Washington came as the U.S. said it was moving up a second carrier strike group in support of Israel, while U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken intensified diplomatic outreach across the Middle East and beyond to rally an international response to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from expanding.
Blinken met with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan in Riyadh before stopping in the United Arab Emirates as he sought ways to help civilians trapped in between the fighting and to address the growing humanitarian crisis.
He also called his Chinese counterpart as Palestinians struggled to flee from areas of Gaza targeted by the Israeli military before an expected land offensive.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin as well on Saturday spoke with Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant, stressing the importance of safeguarding civilians.
Mr. Austin offered updates on U.S. efforts to boost air defense capabilities and munitions for Israeli forces that he noted were aimed at stemming escalation of war, according to a readout of the call.
The Biden administration is sending the the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean to support Israel, two U.S. defense officials told the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity.
The Eisenhower will join the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, which is already sailing near Israel, to bolster U.S. presence there with a host of destroyers, fighter aircraft, and cruisers.
The broad U.S. efforts reflect the international concern about the number of civilians at risk and the potential ramifications of a prolonged war as Israel told Gaza residents to move south and Hamas urged people to remain in their homes.
The Biden administration has not publicly urged Israel to restrain its response after the Hamas attack a week ago, but has emphasized the country's commitment to following the rules of war.
While Mr. Biden has spoken to Netanyahu multiple times since the Hamas attack, Saturday's call was his first to Mr. Abbas, who runs the Palestinian Authority which controls the West Bank.
According to a readout of the call, Mr. Abbas briefed the president on efforts to bring aid to Palestinian people, particularly in Gaza.