© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks at the White House in Washington, U.S., February 8, 2024. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
By Nidal al-Mughrabi and Humeyra Pamuk
DOHA/TEL AVIV (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden mentioned Israel’s army response in Gaza was “over the top” and that he was in search of a sustained pause in fighting as diplomats sought to salvage ceasefire talks after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a Hamas proposal.
“I’m of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in the Gaza Strip has been over the top,” Biden instructed reporters at the White House on Thursday.
Biden’s remarks are a few of his sharpest public criticism to this point of Netanyahu’s authorities and comply with rising home strain to persuade Israel to cease its assaults.
Biden additionally mentioned he has been pushing for a deal to normalise Saudi Arabia-Israel relations, elevated humanitarian assist for Palestinian civilians and a brief pause in fighting to permit the launch of hostages taken by Hamas.
“I’m pushing very hard now to deal with this hostage ceasefire,” Biden mentioned. “There are a lot of innocent people who are starving, a lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying, and it’s gotta stop.”
In an indication that diplomacy was not over, a Hamas delegation led by senior official Khalil Al-Hayya arrived in Cairo on Thursday for ceasefire talks with mediators Egypt and Qatar.
Netanyahu mentioned on Wednesday phrases proposed by Hamas for a ceasefire in the four-month-old battle had been “delusional” and vowed to battle on, saying victory was in attain and simply months away.
Gazans are desperately hoping a ceasefire may arrive in time to go off a threatened Israeli assault on Rafah, laborious in opposition to Gaza’s southern border fence and now residence to over 1,000,000 individuals, lots of them dwelling in makeshift tents.
An Israeli operation in Rafah with out due consideration for the plight of civilians can be “a disaster”, mentioned White House spokesperson John Kirby (NYSE:), including “we would not support it.”
Israeli planes bombed elements of the metropolis on Thursday morning, residents mentioned, killing at the least 11 individuals in strikes on two homes. Tanks additionally shelled some areas in japanese Rafah, intensifying residents’ fears of an imminent floor assault.
Mourners wept over the our bodies of these killed in an air strike that hit the Tel Al-Sultan neighbourhood. The corpses had been laid out in white shrouds. A person carried the physique of a small youngster in a black bag.
“Suddenly in a blink of an eye, rockets fell on children, women, and elderly men. What for? Why? Because of the upcoming ceasefire? Usually before any ceasefire this happens,” mentioned resident Mohammed Abu Habib.
Emad, 55, a father of six in Rafah who fled his residence elsewhere, mentioned they’d nowhere left to run. “We have our backs to the (border) fence and faces toward the Mediterranean. Where should we go?” he mentioned.
Israel says it takes steps to keep away from civilian casualties and accuses Hamas militants of hiding amongst civilians, together with at college shelters and hospitals, resulting in extra civilian deaths. Hamas has denied this.
Aid businesses have warned of a humanitarian disaster if Israel follows by way of on its menace to enter Rafah, one among the final remaining areas of the Gaza Strip that its troops haven’t moved into, the place persons are determined for shelter.
“We’re living in a place meant for animals,” mentioned Umm Mahdi Hanoon, standing amongst the cages of a rooster coop which her household shares with 4 others. “Imagine a child sleeping in a chicken crate… sometimes we wish the morning won’t come.”
Israel started its army offensive after Hamas militants from Gaza killed 1,200 individuals and took 253 hostages in southern Israel on Oct. 7, in response to Israeli tallies.
Gaza’s well being ministry says at the least 27,840 Palestinians have been confirmed killed, and greater than 67,000 injured since the battle started.