According to both National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby, who was quoted by CBS News, and Israeli officials in released statements, the U.S. and Israel have come to an agreement on the implementation of a daily four-hour window in which Israeli military operations in their current ground invasion will be paused in the Gaza Strip, Palestine, in order for humanitarian aid and refugee movement. Kirby said that the decision came after “a lot of personal engagement” between United States President Joe Biden and Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as through engagement by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin. UN OCHA has said the short pauses in attacks have already been implemented for five days.
Kirby also said that Israel would be opening a second corridor for civilians to flee northern Gaza along the coast. Attacks and strikes on civilians by allegedly both the IDF and Hamas/Gaza militants along the previously established corridors have been reported by civilians and NGOs online and demonstrated in some videos showing, for instance, IDF tanks firing on civilian vehicles or vehicles of civilians seemingly shot up in Hamas-controlled areas. Tens of thousands have fled southward in the past few days, joining the over 1.4 million displaced since October 7th, with hundreds of thousands still reportedly remaining in the northern half of Gaza that has been surrounded by Israeli military forces. IDF ground troops continue to push into Gaza City, and intense fighting is reportedly ongoing along with airstrikes, including near the al-Shifa hospital, which, according to Gazans, contains thousands of civilians fleeing bombings, but according to Israel, is also housing a Hamas headquarters, which they say they will contain to target with attacks.
Israeli officials later clarified that the pauses were not a ceasefire, saying, “The fighting continues, and there will be no ceasefire without the release of our hostages. Israel is allowing safe passage through humanitarian corridors from the northern Gaza Strip to the south, which 50,000 Gazans utilized just yesterday. We once again call on the civilian population of Gaza to evacuate to the south,” in a statement from the PM’s office. For several weeks, both Hamas and Israeli officials have made statements regarding the exchange of some of the 200+ hostages held in Gaza for a ceasefire during the conflict, indicating the refusal of action until the other side relents. Little to no progress seems to have been made.
The pauses will be announced three hours before the pause each day, Israeli officials said, although how exactly the announcements will be distributed was not specified. In the past, the IDF has utilized air-dropped leaflets and online messages for evacuation and military orders; however, the spread of these announcements on the ground cannot be calculated. Since the beginning of the conflict and the cuts to internet and electrical services by Israel to the Gaza Strip, there have been continued blackouts of both services, combined with the targeting of electrical infrastructure by Israeli airstrikes.
? Update: Metrics show that internet connectivity is being restored in the #Gaza Strip after Sunday's near-total telecoms blackout, the second-longest observed since the onset of the present conflict with Israel; overall service remains significantly below pre-war levels ? pic.twitter.com/oHkzNkSxUX
— NetBlocks (@netblocks) November 6, 2023
Biden spoke also Thursday about the chance of a ceasefire, quickly saying there was none, while also saying he had asked Netanyahu to institute the daily pauses as well as a pause of at least three days to allow for negotiations over the release of some hostages.
Reporter: “What are the chances of a Gaza ceasefire?”
President Biden: “None. No possibility.” pic.twitter.com/Et3Uqj3zi9
— Yashar Ali ? (@yashar) November 9, 2023