Israel has agreed to daily four-hour military pauses in northern Gaza for humanitarian purposes, the White House said Thursday, even as President Joe Biden said there was no chance of a complete ceasefire.
Biden has been pressing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for longer breaks in the fighting after more than a month of war sparked by the October 7 attacks by Hamas.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the pauses were “significant steps forward” as heavy fighting took hold of Gaza City in the north of the Gaza Strip.
“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.”
He said that pauses would allow humanitarian aid to get into the area and let civilians flee the fighting.
Israel had also opened up “humanitarian corridors” for the past few days that had already allowed “many thousands” of people to leave the worst-hit area of north Gaza to the south, Kirby added.
“We would like to see pauses continue for as long as humanitarian assistance is needed,” he said.
Fighting has raged since gunmen from the Islamist group Hamas poured over the Gaza border with Israel and, according to Israeli officials, killed 1,400 people and seized about 240 hostages in the worst attack in the country’s history.
Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel retaliated with an aerial bombing and ground offensive that the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip says has killed more than 10,500 people, many of them children.