The White House announced on Thursday that Israel will initiate a daily 4-hour truce in military operations within specific areas of northern Gaza, where intense clashes with Hamas are ongoing.
The primary objective is to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid from organizations like the UN into the besieged enclave. These pauses aim to allow civilians to evacuate the conflict zone.
John Kirby, the National Security Council spokesman, mentioned that Israel will provide a three-hour advance notice regarding the timing of these pauses.
"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 said, calling it "steps in the right direction".
Israel's crucial decision to allow four-hour pauses came after "an awful lot of engagement by the administration to try to make sure that humanitarian assistance could get in and people could get out safely", Kirby said adding the pauses would provide "brief windows of opportunity" for safe passage of hostages being held by Hamas.
The Israeli announcement of daily humanitarian pauses in the besieged enclave resulted from extensive deliberations between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, marking a "significant" initial move.
Subsequent talks took place at the highest echelons of the bureaucratic hierarchy in both governments, according to media reports.
"We have been urging the Israelis to minimize civilian casualties and to do everything that they can to reduce those numbers," Kirby said, adding they would provide "breathing space for a few hours" for civilians to move out of harm's way, CNN reported.
As Israel continues its attacks on northern Gaza, civilians have been consistently urged to relocate to the southern part of the region. However, this designated area is also fraught with danger, given the destruction caused by the ongoing attacks, leading to a scarcity of essential resources for daily living.
The ability of civilians to leave Gaza in significant numbers has been severely constrained since the commencement of the conflict. While some groups of foreign nationals and a few injured Palestinians were recently permitted to exit the enclave, reports suggest that large-scale evacuations remain challenging.
The United States expresses a desire to see the daily humanitarian pauses persist, emphasizing the importance of sustaining adequate levels of humanitarian assistance in Gaza.
President Joe Biden told reporters he has been advocating for a humanitarian pause longer than three days. On whether Netanyahu was pressed for a three-day pause in military operations, he said: "I've been asking for a pause for a lot more than three days. Yes."
Biden added: "I've asked for even a longer pause for some of them."
Regarding any frustration with Netanyahu and the Israeli Prime Minister's responsiveness to the president's requests, concerns were downplayed by President Biden. He mentioned to CNN that while it has "taken a little longer than I hoped," he appeared to downplay any significant grievances in this regard.
(With Agency Inputs)