The two leaders “welcomed the increase in humanitarian assistance over the past week and discussed the necessity to significantly ramp up deliveries over the coming week.”
U.S. President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed “the possibility of tactical pauses” to afford residents of the Gaza Strip “opportunities to safely depart from areas of ongoing fighting, to ensure assistance is reaching civilians in need and to enable potential hostage releases,” per a White House readout of their Monday call.
In recent days, Israel has shared evidence of Hamas terrorists shooting at Gazan civilians trying to flee from areas where Hamas operates, and both Jerusalem and Washington have noted that Hamas uses human shields.
It wasn’t immediately clear what the White House meant by “tactical pauses.” John Kirby, strategic communications coordinator at the National Security Council of the White House, has said that the difference between “pauses” and “ceasefires” is “a question of duration and scope and size and that kind of thing.”
“A ceasefire right now would not prevent Hamas from continuing terror attacks and firing rocket attacks at Israel in the future. And on the contrary, it would let Hamas off the hook, allow Hamas enough time to regroup, and we can’t allow that,” Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesman at the U.S. State Department, said Monday at a Foggy Bottom press briefing.
“No nation can be expected to tolerate those kinds of conditions,” Patel added. “But one thing we have been very clear about, both the secretary and the president, have been the need for a humanitarian pause to enable a sustained flow of aid and voluntary movement of civilians seeking to depart.”
Patel claimed that the “humanitarian pause” would also “allow an opportunity for the potential release of hostages, which continues to be something that we’re calling for directly.” He did not say why giving Hamas extra time to fortify itself and regroup would make it easier to free hostages, including babies, the elderly, and reportedly, those with medical conditions that require attention.
In its readout of the Monday call between Biden and Netanyahu, Washington also stated that the two leaders “welcomed the increase in humanitarian assistance over the past week and discussed the necessity to significantly ramp up deliveries over the coming week, including by increasing the capacity to screen and stage trucks going into Gaza.”
Biden has emphasized that in the past, while Israel has said that the Hamas terror organization seizes humanitarian aid intended for Gazan civilians.
The U.S. president “reiterated his steadfast support for Israel and the protection of Israeli citizens from Hamas and all other threats while also emphasizing the imperative to protect Palestinian civilians and reduce civilian harm in the course of military operations,” Washington said.
Biden “also discussed the situation in the West Bank and the need to hold extremist settlers accountable for violent acts,” the White House added. “They agreed to speak again in the coming days.”
Although Netanyahu’s office released statements about other meetings on Monday, it did not appear to discuss the phone call with Biden.