Israel Agrees to Daily 4-hour Pause in Gaza Combat to Let Civilians Flee

Israel Agrees to Daily 4-hour Pause in Gaza Combat to Let Civilians Flee
Israeli soldiers walk through rubble in the northern Gaza Strip on Nov. 8, 2023. (Ronen Zvulun/Reuters)

Israel has agreed to a daily pause in operations in Gaza to let civilians flee as part of an effort to convince the Hamas terrorist group to free hostages, the White House said on Nov. 9.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the first daily humanitarian pause would be announced Thursday and that the Israelis had committed to announcing each four-hour window at least three hours in advance.

Israel, he said, also was opening a second corridor for civilians to flee the areas that are the current focus of its military campaign against Hamas, with a coastal road joining the territory’s main north-south highway.

“The fighting continues, and there will be no ceasefire without the release of our captives,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office told The Epoch Times via email. “Israel allows safe passage from the northern strip to the south, as 50,000 Gazans did just yesterday. Once again, we call on the civilian population in Gaza to evacuate to the south.”

President Joe Biden told reporters there was no chance of a ceasefire but he and other U.S. officials have been pressuring Israeli counterparts to pause fighting to let civilians depart.

President Biden said he requested a pause longer than three days.

Mr. Kirby told reporters that pauses could be useful in the bid to get Hamas to release hostages, some of whom are Americans.

“If we can get all the hostages out, that’s a nice finite goal,” he said. “Humanitarian pauses can be useful in the transfer process.”

Israeli officials currently estimate that Hamas took 239 hostages, including children and the elderly, during its Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel that also saw 1,400 Israelis killed. U.S. officials say they believe fewer than 10 Americans are among those held captive.

Asked about the hostages, President Biden said, “we’re not going to stop until we get them out.”

Indirect talks were taking place in Qatar—which also played a role in the freeing of four hostages by Hamas last month—about a larger release of hostages. CIA Director William Burns was in Doha to discuss efforts to win the release of hostages in Gaza with the Qatari prime minister and the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency, according to a U.S. official.

Qatar is a frequent go-between in international dealings with Hamas, and some top Hamas political leaders make their home in the Gulf country. The U.S. official stressed Mr. Burns was not playing a lead role in the negotiations.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said at the G7 in Japan this week that the United States supports Israel’s attacks on Hamas but added, “it is clear that Israel cannot occupy Gaza.”

“We know what we don’t want to see in Gaza post conflict, we don’t want to see Hamas in control, and we don’t want to see a re-occupation by Israel,” Mr. Kirby told CNN.

Israel occupied Gaza until 2005. Hamas took over two years later.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said recently that no ceasefire was possible until all hostages taken by Hamas terrorists who invaded Israel in October are released, but said that there could be “tactical little pauses” lasting a brief period.

“We’ll check the circumstances, in order to enable goods, humanitarian goods, to come in, or our hostages, individual hostages, to leave,” he said, speaking to ABC News.

NTD Photo
Palestinians fleeing north Gaza walk towards the south in the central Gaza Strip, on Nov. 9, 2023. (Mohammed Salem/Reuters)
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Palestinians families fleeing Gaza City and other parts of northern Gaza towards the southern areas, walk along a highway on Nov. 9, 2023. (Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images)
Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks amid ongoing battles between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas, during a press conference in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Mr. Blinken and other foreign ministers of G7 nations said in a joint statement that there needed to be “urgent action to address the deteriorating humanitarian crisis in Gaza.”

“All parties must allow unimpeded humanitarian support for civilians, including food, water, medical care, fuel, and shelter, and access for humanitarian workers,” the group said. “We support humanitarian pauses and corridors to facilitate urgently needed assistance, civilian movement, and the release of hostages.”

Humanitarian corridors are agreements between parties locked in conflict that let people safely travel for a limited period of time in a specific area, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross. The agreements date back decades and have been repeatedly used across a number of conflicts.

The United Nations said Wednesday that the pace of Palestinians fleeing northern Gaza, where the fighting is happening, had quickened, with 15,000 people fleeing Tuesday, compared to 5,000 on Monday and 2,000 on Sunday.

Mr. Netanyahu also said, speaking to ABC News, that Israel would likely have to occupy Gaza for some time.

“I think Israel will for an indefinite period have the overall security responsibility because we’ve seen what happens when we don’t have that security responsibility,” he said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

From The Epoch Times

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