update deskIsrael at War

Biden: Goods not entering Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip fast enough

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Israel should consider "humanitarian pauses" in the war against Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. President Joe Biden in New York, Sept. 20. 2023. Credit: Cameron Smith/Official White House photo.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets with U.S. President Joe Biden in New York, Sept. 20. 2023. Credit: Cameron Smith/Official White House photo.

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that goods were not entering the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip fast enough.

Asked when leaving a White House event if the Palestinian enclave was being replenished sufficiently, Biden responded: “Not fast enough.”

Earlier Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Israel should consider “humanitarian pauses” in the war against Hamas to enable goods to enter Gaza.

“Israel must take all possible precautions to avoid harm to civilians. It means food, water, medicine and other essential humanitarian assistance must be able to flow into Gaza and to the people who need it. It means civilians must be able to get out of harm’s way. It means humanitarian pauses must be considered for these purposes,” said Blinken at a U.N. Security Council meeting.

During the White House press briefing on Tuesday, John Kirby, spokesman for the National Security Council, drew a distinction between a “humanitarian pause” and a “ceasefire.”

“We want to see all measure of protection for civilians. And pauses in operation is a tool and a tactic that can do that for temporary periods of time,” Kirby said. “That is not the same as saying a ‘ceasefire.’ Again, right now we believe a ceasefire benefits Hamas. A general ceasefire.”

Asked to clarify the difference between the two terms, Kirby said it is “a question of duration and scope and size and that kind of thing.”

During the U.S. State Department’s press briefing on Monday, spokesman Matthew Miller was asked whether Washington would support a call from European leaders for a “humanitarian pause in what’s happening in Gaza to bring in some aid.”

“Whether you call it a pause or whether you call it a ceasefire, you have to think about what that would mean in this context when Israel has suffered this terrorist attack and Israel continues to suffer ongoing terrorist attacks,” he said.

“There are rockets, as I said a moment ago, that continue to be launched from Gaza targeting Israel. Any ceasefire would give Hamas the ability to rest, to refit and to get ready to continue launching terrorist attacks against Israel,” he said. “You can understand perfectly clearly why that’s an intolerable situation for Israel, as it would be an intolerable situation for any country that has suffered such a brutal terrorist attack and continues to see the terrorist threat right on its border.”

Humanitarian aid arrives at the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Oct. 21, 2023. Photo by Atia Mohammed/Flash90.

‘Hamas must not interfere’

Goods crossed into the Gaza Strip via Egypt on Saturday for the first time since Hamas’s Oct. 7 invasion of southern Israel that left 1,400 people dead, at least 4,500 wounded and 200 others held hostage by the terrorist group.

“The opening of this essential supply route was the result of days of exhaustive U.S. diplomatic engagement in the region and an understanding President [Joe] Biden reached with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Saturday.

“We urge all parties to keep the Rafah crossing open to enable the continued movement of aid that is imperative to the welfare of the people of Gaza. We have been clear: Hamas must not interfere with the provision of this life-saving assistance. Palestinian civilians are not responsible for Hamas’s horrific terrorism, and they should not be made to suffer for its depraved acts,” added the statement.

More than 200 trucks carrying some 3,000 tons of cargo have amassed at the crossing after being held up for days.

Israel imposed a siege on Gaza following Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre but changed tack due to pressure from the United States and other countries.

Critics have argued that allowing “humanitarian aid” into Gaza will have devastating implications for Israel. 

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