U.S. President Joe Biden will make a high-stakes visit to Israel on Wednesday as it prepares to escalate an offensive against Hamas militants that has set off a humanitarian crisis in Gaza and raised fears of a broader conflict with Iran.

Biden's visit will mark a significant show of U.S. support for its top Middle East ally after Hamas gunmen killed 1,300 people during a rampage through southern Israeli towns on Oct. 7, the deadliest single day in Israel's 75-year history.

Israel has responded by tightening its blockade on Hamas-ruled Gaza, including by restricting the entry of fuel, and bombarding the area with air strikes that have killed thousands of Palestinians and displaced hundreds of thousands more.