In a new development amid over a month of intense conflict, Israel has committed to implementing four-hour daily pauses in operations in northern Gaza starting Thursday, according to the White House.
This move, designed to provide a respite in the ongoing hostilities that have claimed thousands of lives and heightened concerns of a broader regional conflict, will enable people to evacuate through two humanitarian corridors.
White House national security spokesperson John Kirby stated that these pauses represent significant initial measures.
“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,” Kirby affirmed. The announcement of the pauses will occur three hours in advance and resulted from recent discussions between U.S. and Israeli officials, including talks between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Earlier, Israeli forces engaged Hamas militants in the northern Gaza Strip, advancing closer to two major hospitals, exacerbating the plight of civilians in the besieged Palestinian territory.
Thousands of Palestinians continued to flee the embattled north, navigating a perilous frontline path.
Despite Israel’s evacuation instructions, many individuals remained in the north, seeking refuge in Al Shifa Hospital and al-Quds Hospital as ground battles and air strikes persisted.
In Doha, the heads of the CIA and Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency convened with the prime minister of Qatar to explore a potential deal over hostages, a U.S. official disclosed. Qatar, having served as a mediator with Hamas previously, played a role in the discussions.
In Paris, representatives from approximately 80 countries and organizations convened to coordinate humanitarian aid to Gaza and devise strategies for helping wounded civilians escape the ongoing siege, now in its second month.
“Without a ceasefire, lifting of siege and indiscriminate bombarding and warfare, the hemorrhage of human lives will continue,” warned Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, ahead of the White House announcement.
Israel and the United States argue that a full ceasefire would benefit Hamas, with Israel initiating its assault on Gaza in response to a cross-border Hamas raid on southern Israel on October 7. The raid resulted in the death of 1,400 people, primarily civilians, and the taking of approximately 240 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.