US President Joe Biden has warned Israel against any move to occupy the Gaza Strip, calling it a "big mistake", as the Israel army prepared for a ground offensive on Gaza.
When asked if he would support any occupation of Gaza, Biden replied: "I think it'd be a big mistake."
Hamas "don't represent all the Palestinian people", he maintained, but also added that invading and "taking out the extremists" is a "necessary requirement".
The Hamas attack on Israel has so far killed more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians, while Israel's retaliation since then has led to at least 2,670 deaths in Gaza, the majority ordinary Palestinians.
Israel has received dire warnings about the consequences of sending troops into Gaza, with relief organisations warning of a humanitarian catastrophe, worries that the fighting will worsen, and difficulties in differentiating militants from civilians in the poor, densely populated country.
When asked if Hamas must be eliminated entirely, he replied: "Yes I do."
"But there needs to be a Palestinian authority. There needs to be a path to a Palestinian state," he continued.
Interviewer Scott Pelley also asked the US president if he could foresee US troops joining the war.
"I don't think that's necessary," Biden replied. "Israel has one of the finest fighting forces in the country. I guarantee we're gonna provide them everything they need.”
The United States has already deployed two aircraft carriers to the eastern Mediterranean in a powerful show of support for Israel.
'Act of hate'
Meanwhile, Biden has also condemned the murder of a six-year-old Muslim boy, which has been linked by the police to the ongoing Israel-Hamas war, as a "horrific act of hate".
"This horrific act of hate has no place in America, and stands against our fundamental values: freedom from fear for how we pray, what we believe, and who we are," Biden said in a statement. He added that he prayed for the recovery of the boy's mother, who was also severely injured in the attack.