Israel presses for control in Northern Gaza amidst talks with Biden

Israel pressed for complete control over northern Gaza in its ongoing conflict with Hamas militants, with discussions between U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu focusing on the 11-week-old war’s outlook.

The U.N. Security Council, in response to the conflict, issued an appeal for increased aid to the Palestinian enclave.

On Saturday, thick smoke covered the northern town of Jabalia, with residents reporting continuous aerial bombardment and shelling from Israeli tanks that had advanced deeper into the town.

During talks, President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu deliberated on the “objectives and phasing” of Israel’s military operations. They emphasized the importance of safeguarding civilian lives and securing the release of hostages held by the Palestinian militant group, according to the White House.

Netanyahu’s office clarified that he conveyed Israel’s commitment to continue the war until all objectives were achieved.

While the U.S. has expressed concern over the rising casualty toll and humanitarian crisis in densely populated Gaza, it continues to support Israel. U.S. officials anticipate a shift to a lower-intensity phase, targeting Hamas leadership and infrastructure.

President Biden, addressing reporters, stated he did not request a ceasefire. Netanyahu’s office noted his appreciation for U.S. support in the U.N. Security Council.

Despite U.S. concerns, the council avoided a threatened U.S. veto by modifying a draft resolution. The revised statement calls for steps to enable “safe, unhindered, and expanded humanitarian access” to Gaza and outlines conditions for a sustainable cessation of fighting.

The Palestinian health ministry reported a death toll of 20,258 on Saturday, with thousands believed trapped under rubble. Nearly all of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced.

Israel, providing an update on Sunday, stated that 154 of its soldiers have been killed since the ground incursion initiated in response to Hamas’ October 7 attack into Israel, resulting in 1,200 deaths and 240 hostages taken by militants.