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White House: Israel’s military operations in northern Gaza will begin a four-hour daily “pause”

White House: Israel's military operations in northern Gaza will begin a four-hour daily "pause"

Latest developments:

  • The White House said Israel’s military operation against Hamas in northern Gaza will be suspended for four hours a day starting Thursday.
  • Israeli troops battle Hamas militants in Gaza City.
  • The Israel Defense Forces on Wednesday extended an evacuation corridor for Palestinian civilians out of northern Gaza by an hour, as the United Nations said 50,000 people fled south.
  • The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said the death toll from Israeli attacks had exceeded 10,500.
  • The head of the United Nations Relief Agency in the East said the deaths of thousands of children were not “collateral damage”.

The White House said that starting Thursday (November 9), Israel’s military operations against Hamas will be suspended for four hours a day in northern Gaza.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby made the announcement. Currently, Israeli troops are fighting Hamas militants in Gaza City, and at the same time, more Palestinian civilians are fleeing the area.

Bryant said the suspension would give Palestinians time to use two humanitarian corridors to escape, which would play a significant role in reducing the cost of the war.

“We have been informed by Israel that there will be no military operations in these areas during the pause, a process that begins today,” Bryant said, adding that the idea of ​​a pause was on the agenda of U.S. President Joe Biden. It came up in discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Israeli offensive was in response to a terrorist attack launched by Hamas in southern Israel on October 7. Hamas attacks killed more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians. Hamas also took about 240 people hostage. The United States, Britain, the European Union and other Western countries have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

David Satterfield, the U.S. special envoy for humanitarian affairs in the Middle East, told reporters that he hoped the brief pause would also help evacuate injured civilians as well as foreign citizens.

“But again, what we’re doing now is just the beginning and we understand that more needs to be done and will be done – and it has to be done immediately.”

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N. was seeking more information about the announcement.

“How will such a moratorium serve a humanitarian purpose? There needs to be coordination with the United Nations, especially on issues of time and place,” Dujarric said. “If it’s done safely for humanitarian purposes, it has to be agreed by all parties to the conflict in order for it to be truly effective.”

Emanuela-Chiara Gillard, associate fellow in international law at Chatham House, said on Thursday that while this was a positive development, any humanitarian ceasefire or If the suspension is to have a better chance of success, it must be agreed upon by both the IDF and Hamas, and preferably by a written agreement through a third-party mediator.

“This is a unilateral agreement, so we don’t see any pattern of ensuring compliance,” she told an event about the conflict. In

addition to the ground war in Gaza’s largest city, Israeli forces have Air strikes have been carried out in the area.

The fighting caused large numbers of people to be displaced. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said 50,000 people fled to the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday.

The number is the highest so far this week. The United Nations says a total of 72,000 people have been evacuated from northern Gaza since Sunday, mostly on foot.

Israel on Sunday began opening an evacuation corridor along the main highway connecting north and south Gaza. The corridor is open four hours a day, allowing civilians to leave the center of the conflict. The Israel Defense Forces said Wednesday it had extended the corridor hours by an hour because too many people were using it.

Due to the substantial response, the @IDF has extended the evacuation corridor by an extra hour, until 15:00 today, allowing many more Gazans to move south for their safety. https://t.co/gAutX4eo1l

— COGAT (@cogatonline) November 8, 2023

The United Nations and other aid organizations are providing them with water and high-energy biscuits on the south side of the dividing line between North and South.

The situation has become more severe in the north, where aid has been unable to reach the area over the past week. As of Tuesday, no bakeries were open there due to a lack of fuel, water, wheat flour, and damage to their premises, the United Nations said.

The health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza said Israeli attacks have killed more than 10,500 people, two-thirds of them women and children. The figures cannot be independently verified, but the United Nations says the department’s data has been reliable in the past.

Dire situation

The United Nations has warned that southern Gaza is so overcrowded that shelters “cannot accommodate new arrivals”. The United Nations says about two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced and face deteriorating sanitation conditions and a lack of water and fuel. The United Nations says a shelter in Khan Younis houses 22,000 displaced Palestinians, with at least 600 sharing a toilet.

Palestinians are fleeing northern Gaza and heading south. (November 9, 2023)
Palestinians are fleeing northern Gaza and heading south. (November 9, 2023)

The World Health Organization said on Wednesday that the risk of infectious diseases spreading rapidly in Gaza was increasing, with bodies left to rot under the rubble of buildings and health, water, and sewage systems severely damaged. Cases of childhood diarrhea have increased dramatically, as have scabies, lice, skin, and upper respiratory tract infections.

The WHO and UNRWA, which aids the Palestinians, said on Wednesday they were assisting in the delivery of emergency medical care to Gaza City’s Shifa hospital despite the bombing “posing significant risks to our staff and health partners” supplies. This is only the second time supplies have been delivered to the hospital since the war began, and WHO and UNRWA say it is not enough to meet the huge need. Israel accuses Hamas of hiding its command center in Shifa Hospital.

The United Nations said the Rafah crossing on the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt was not open on Wednesday, a day after 600 foreign and dual nationals were able to leave Gaza.

U.N. human rights commissioner Volker Türk, who visited the Rafah crossing on Wednesday, called it “a doorway to a living nightmare.”

He said: “Israel’s collective punishment of Palestinian civilians also constitutes a war crime, as does the illegal and forcible evacuation of civilians. Israel’s large-scale bombing resulted in the death, maiming, and injury of women and children.” He also condemned Hamas’s

October 7 atrocities, calling their terrorist attacks and hostage-taking also war crimes.

He said: “We have fallen off the cliff. This situation cannot continue.” He called for a humanitarian ceasefire.

Phillippe Lazzarini, head of the United Nations Relief Agency in the East, told an international conference in Paris on Thursday that Israel’s response to the “heinous massacre” committed by Hamas must not ignore international humanitarian laws and promote dehumanizing rhetoric.

“‘Collateral damage’ should not be thousands of children killed,” he said. “Evicting one million people from their homes and concentrating them in areas lacking infrastructure is forced displacement. Severe restrictions on food, water, and medicine are collective punishment.”

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