Israel Commits to More Limited Pauses in Gaza Strip Fighting

Israel Commits to More Limited Pauses in Gaza Strip Fighting
Palestinians search for casualties in the ruins of a building following Israeli airstrikes in a residential neighborhood of Gaza City, Gaza, on Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023.

(Bloomberg) -- Israel said it agreed to limited pauses in fighting in the Gaza Strip so civilians can flee its war with Hamas, a description that fell short of what the US hailed as a significant agreement for daily, four-hour halts.

Israel will enact “tactical local pauses for humanitarian aid, which are limited in time and area,” Israeli army spokesperson Richard Hecht said. He played down the importance of the announcement as Israel presses ahead with a campaign against Hamas in the wake of the group’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel.

Hours before, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said Israel had agreed to daily, four-hour pauses that would start the same day. US officials hailed the move as a major development, with one senior administration official saying it was the result of meeting last week between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

“We understand that Israel will begin to implement four-hour pauses in areas of northern Gaza each day, with an announcement to be made three hours beforehand,” Kirby told reporters. “We’ve been told by the Israelis that there will be no military operations in these areas over the duration of the pause, and that this process is starting today.”

The conflicting messaging highlighted the disconnect that has emerged between the Biden and Netanyahu administrations with the war in its fifth week. Israel has launched an air and ground campaign to root out Hamas, which is labeled a terrorist organization by the US and the European Union. The Oct. 7 attack killed some 1,400 people, and Palestinian authorities say the death toll from Israel’s response in Gaza now exceeds 10,000 people.

President Joe Biden later in the day called the corridors a “step in the right direction” and said they had already enabled thousands to reach safety. Netanyahu’s office said in a statement 50,000 Gazans used the passages on Wednesday to move away from the fighting.

Israel Says ‘No Limitations’ to Length of Gaza Offensive

But Biden, in a series of posts to X, the social media site previously known as Twitter, stressed the US wanted to see an increased flow of humanitarian supplies and assistance and said Israel had “an obligation to distinguish between terrorists and civilians and fully comply with international law.”

The president said his goal was that at least 150 trucks of aid would enter Gaza every day – up from the 106 which entered the territory on Wednesday.

In an interview with Fox News’s Special Report that was set to air later Thursday, Netanyahu denied there would be a stop in the fighting but said Israel would help civilians flee.

“The fighting continues against the Hamas enemy, the Hamas terrorists, but in specific locations for a given period, a few hours here, a few hours there, we want to facilitate a safe passage of civilians away from the zone of fighting,” Netanyahu said, according to excerpts released by Fox.

Hecht said the plan would allow civilians in Gaza to move from the territory’s north, where the heaviest fighting is taking place, to the south. He said the pauses don’t represent a shift in strategy and Israel was already taking similar action to allow people to leave the conflict zone.

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The US and its allies have been calling for such humanitarian pauses as they press Israel to avoid targeting civilians and allow aid to get to the Gaza Strip even as it proceeds with the military campaign meant to root out Hamas.

Biden spoke to Netanyahu on Monday amid efforts to secure the release of some 200 hostages seized by Hamas in the attack. Asked Thursday if he is seeking a longer-lasting halt to the fighting to secure the hostages’ release, Biden told reporters, “I’ve asked for a pause longer than three days.”

Biden acknowledged growing US consternation over Netanyahu’s resistance, saying “it’s taking a little longer than I had hoped” when reporters asked if he was frustrated Netanyahu hasn’t agreed to do what he asked.

Calls have grown in the Arab world and elsewhere for a cease-fire. Netanyahu has rejected that idea, saying Israel must root out Hamas in the wake of the attack.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Izzy Trees says:

    “Enabled thousands to reach safety”. And yet, as verified by the BBC, so-called areas of “safety” in the South of Gaza (Khan Younis, Rafah and others) are still being bombed.

  • Cunningham Ngcukana says:

    This is meaningless by the useless US President who refuses a cease fire because the US thinks that they can impose their will on the world. Those days are gone and they have to accept that. They had rejected the Brazilian draft resolution calling for a pause in the Security Council but Brazil has long moved to a cease fire and this is how stupid is the US. Now a pause is regarded as an inhumane act of pausing to kill people rather than stopping the killing. Even the UN agencies said that they are not going to cooperate with this criminal act. That the US is complicit in the crimes of Israel that Netanyahu mouthed as well as Gallant and the Israel President, Hercog is not in doubt. The failure to indict these people by the ICC as well as Biden and Blinken including the British leaders and EU leaders is criminal on its own. The Israelis announced that they are going to commit genocide, war crimes as well as crimes against humanity and the ICC requires no other evidence. The other people like Biden and Blinken as well as Sunak, Stammer and vo de Leyen and Macron announced their support of these crimes including the Western media like CNN and the BBC that must be indicted. If the ICC does not do so, a campaign against the ICCC must be mounted as a useless topol of Western imperialism.

  • ikhraam23 says:

    The comparison between zionist Israel and Apartheid South Africa. If White SA was blessed with the same support afforded to zionist Israel they would still be in power. Troublesome townships like Soweto would have been flattened by aerial bombing raids and military incursions. Humanitarian considerations would have been a non-issue as white SA was protecting its safety and security against the disenfranchised and oppressed black masses in the country. Eish. The hypocrisy of the west confounds!

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