Joe Biden confuses Haifa with Rafah, warns Israel: ‘Don’t move on Haifa’

The US president made the blunder during a stop on his campaign trail in Pennsylvania


Joe Biden on the campaign trail in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he grew up (Photo: Getty)

Joe Biden appeared to confuse the Israeli port city of Haifa with the Gazan city of Rafah, marking the latest in a series of slip-ups when speaking in public in recent months. 

The 81-year-old US president made the blunder when asked by a reporter on Tuesday about his plan to win over pro-Palestinian US voters given his staunch support for Israel in the wake of the October 7 attacks and subsequent war in Gaza.

“I’ve been meeting with them, number one,” Biden replied. “Number two, I made it clear that we have to vastly increase the amount of food, water, healthcare going into Gaza.”

He then added: “And I made it clear to Israelis – don’t move on Haifa,” apparently meaning to say Rafah, before trailing off.

A clip of the interview with a reporter from Pennsylvania broadcaster WBRE, which took place in the city of Scranton – where the president grew up – during a stop on Biden’s campaign trail, has garnered widespread attention among critics and commentators, with some suggesting the commander-in-chief’s mistake provides evidence of his perceived cognitive decline.

Former New York State Assembly member Dov Hikind tweeted: “This is seriously embarrassing. Don’t move on Haifa? You mean he’s telling Israel don’t make a move on one of your own biggest cities? G_d help us. I guess the good news for Biden is, his DONT may actually come true this time. Think there’s strong likelihood Israel refrains from hitting Haifa.”

Former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman also referenced the clip in a sarcastic post: "I think Israel should accommodate Biden's demand not to attack Haifa," he wrote.

In March, Biden twice mistakenly referred to Gaza as Ukraine during a speech about airdrops of food and aid to the Gaza Strip.

The previous month, he jumbled his words when namechecking the president of France during a speech. Instead of referring to the incumbent, Emmanuel Macron, he spoke of Francois Mitterrand, a predecessor of Macron’s who died in 1996.

An ABC News/Ipsos poll released in February found that 86 per cent of American adults believe Biden, who would be 86 years old at the end of a second term in office, is too old to serve another term as president.

Former US president, Donald Trump, the last major candidate standing in the Republican presidential primary field to run against Biden, has also alarmed many voters and commentators by making his own verbal errors on numerous occasions.

Trump, who will turn 78 in June, has mixed up Biden and former president, Barack Obama, three times in recent months; GOP rival Nikki Haley with Nancy Pelosi; and Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

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