US President Joe Biden speaks after signing the foreign aid bill at the White House in Washington, DC, on April 24, 2024. Image Credit: AFP

WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden on Wednesday demanded that new humanitarian aid be allowed to immediately reach Palestinians in the Gaza Strip as key US ally Israel fights Hamas there.

“We’re going to immediately secure that aid and surge it... including food, medical supplies, clean water,” Biden said after signing a bill to grant $26 billion military aid to Israel and $1 billion in humanitarian aid for Gaza.

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“Israel must make sure all this aid reaches the Palestinians in Gaza without delay,” he said.

US-Israel relations have been strained by Israel’s conduct of the war in Gaza and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to send troops into the southern Gazan city of Rafah, where 1.5 million people are sheltering, many in makeshift encampments.

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“This bill significantly - significantly - increases humanitarian assistance we’re sending to the innocent people of Gaza who are suffering badly,” Biden said.

“They’re suffering the consequences of this war that Hamas started, and we’ve been working intently for months to get as much aid to Gaza as possible.”