Israel agrees to 4 hour daily humanitarian pauses in fighting in northern Gaza: White HouseBy Yonhap
Published : Nov. 10, 2023 - 09:10
Israel has agreed to four-hour daily humanitarian pauses in the fighting in northern Gaza to bring humanitarian aid in, get civilians out of harm's way and facilitate the release of hostages, a White House official said Thursday.
John Kirby, the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, made the announcement that the pauses would begin Thursday -- a move that he said followed an "awful lot of engagement," including a series of talks between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He refused to comment on the detailed implementation of the pauses, but stressed that the United States wants to see the pauses continue "as long as they are needed."
"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," he told reporters in an online briefing.
"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 pauses came after the US and Israel engaged in a series of intense talks that at some point revealed an apparent rift. Secretary of State Antony Blinken renewed calls for the pauses during his trip to Tel Aviv last week, but Netanyahu opposed the pauses without the release of hostages.
Kirby hailed the pauses as "good steps in the right direction."
"That four-hour pause, for instance, will allow ... potentially move humanitarian assistance into that localized area over the span of time. It could also provide enough of a window to help people get out of harm's way," he said.
"If in fact, we can secure the release of hostages and we're still working on that, it could also provide brief windows of opportunity for safe passage of those hostages from where they are being held to safer ground," he added.
He said that there are 239 hostages, including less than 10 Americans, who have been held by the Hamas militant group.
Asked about how long the pauses will last, Kirby said that their implementation is a matter for Israel to speak to.
"In the case of humanitarian assistance, we would like to see pauses continue for as long as humanitarian assistance is needed," he said.
The official reiterated the US' opposition to any ceasefire at the moment.
"We still don't believe a ceasefire is appropriate at this time," he said. "Hamas benefits from it. And frankly, a ceasefire at this time would in all practicality legitimize what they did on Oct. 7." (Yonhap)
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