Israel has agreed to institute four-hour daily pauses for humanitarian aid to reach the millions of civilians trapped in the Palestinian territory of Gaza.
The decision resulted from a phone conversation between President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week, during which Biden said he pressed for the daily pause as well as a longer three-day break to facilitate hostage negotiations, per the Associated Press.
Israel estimates that Hamas terrorists in Gaza are holding 239 hostages, including children and older adults, per the AP.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed that a daily humanitarian pause would be announced by Israel on Thursday, which he said would help facilitate “getting all 239 hostages back with their families, to include the less than 10 Americans that we know are being held. So if we can get all the hostages out, that’s a nice finite goal.”
On Thursday, Netanyahu told Fox News, “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. And we’re doing that.”
Israel has been under mounting international pressure to pause its efforts to destroy Hamas by bombing Gaza.
In addition to protests around the world advocating for Palestinian civilians, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has been pointed in his criticism of Israel’s military response to the terrorist attacks of October 7 that killed 1,400 people.
Speaking at a conference on Wednesday, Guterres said, “There are violations by Hamas when they have human shields. But when one looks at the number of civilians that were killed with the military operations, there is something that is clearly wrong,” as reported by Politico.
“It is against the interest of Israel to see every day the terrible images of the dramatic humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people,” Guterres continued, adding, “that doesn’t help Israel in relation to the global public opinion.”
While advocating for innocent civilians in Palestine caught in the crossfire between Hamas terrorists and Israel, President Biden and U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken have emphasized that Israel has a right to defend itself.
Biden has further laid the blame for the loss of Palestinian lives at Hamas’ feet, noting that the terrorist group catalyzed this war by attacking Israel with no regard for the consequences.
“We stand with Israel,” the president declared. “And we will make sure Israel has what it needs to take care of its citizens, defend itself, and respond to this attack.
“There is no justification for terrorism. There is no excuse.
“Hamas does not stand for the Palestinian people’s right to dignity and self-determination. Its stated purpose is the annihilation of the State of Israel and the murder of Jewish people.
“They use Palestinian civilians as human shields.
“Hamas offers nothing but terror and bloodshed with no regard to who pays the price.”