Joe Biden defies pressure to give Israel deadline to end Gaza war

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President Joe Biden signaled that the United States is not giving Israel time to end its campaign against Hamas, despite international allies, officials in his administration and members of the Democratic Party pressing Israel to limit its operations in Gaza.

Biden said Israel’s war against the Islamic militant group will end “when Hamas no longer maintains the ability to kill, abuse and commit atrocities against Israel.”

“How long this will last, I don’t know,” Biden said Wednesday after meeting with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping outside San Francisco.

The UN Security Council passed a resolution calling for an emergency and extended humanitarian pause for “sufficient days” to allow aid into the besieged area, hours after the Israeli military raided Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest health facility in the Gaza Strip. . Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu strongly opposed proposals to end the fighting.

The US, UK and Russia abstained after Moscow tried to change the language to a ceasefire. Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, said in a statement on social media that the Security Council resolution was “disconnected from reality and meaningless”. Israel will continue to operate until Hamas is destroyed and the hostages returned.

Israel declared war on Hamas after the group launched a surprise attack from Gaza on October 7, killing 1,200 people across southern Israel, according to Israeli officials. It has vowed to expel the armed group from the Palestinian territories. On Thursday, it carried out an airstrike on a compound it described as the home of Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who now lives in Qatar. Located in al-Shadi refugee camp, the house was already bulldozed by troops a few weeks ago.

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According to Palestinian officials, the assault on Gaza has killed more than 11,000 people, and hospitals have gradually stopped functioning as Israeli forces have advanced deep into the coastal enclave, restricting fuel, water and food exports. Health officials have not been able to update the death toll since the weekend, and say at least 3,000 people are still buried under the rubble.

Israel’s military earlier entered Al-Shifa in what it called a “targeted” operation to locate Hamas weapons and infrastructure. According to two Palestinians, the raid continued on Thursday, with Israeli forces still surrounding the hospital and preventing people from leaving.

Doctors and patients took shelter on high floors while soldiers examined the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) unit, detaining several Palestinians and taking them away for further investigation, some with visible cuts and bruises, two people at the hospital said.

© Israel Defense Forces/Reuters

In a video released by the Israel Defense Forces, the military displayed nearly a dozen AK-47 rifles, grenades and radios, as well as a laptop with a picture of a hostage as evidence that the hospital was a key command and control headquarters. of Hamas.

It also described the discovery of a spindle of CD-ROMs as an intelligence hijack – the discs are commonly used to transfer the results of MRIs at al-Shifa. Further tests are expected to investigate other areas of the hospital. Israel contends the hospital sits atop an underground network of tunnels containing the group’s command centers. Hamas has denied the claims, describing them as an Israeli excuse to seize the hospital.

“One established . . . “Hamas has headquarters, weapons, supplies, and I suspect others below this hospital,” Biden said of al-Shifa.

Biden drew a distinction between Hamas, which he said had vowed to attack Israel “again and again,” and the IDF, which he said was acting on the idea.

“The IDF . . . He acknowledges that they have an obligation to use as much caution as they can in pursuing their goals, not like they rush into a hospital and knock on doors and pull people aside and shoot people indiscriminately,” Biden said.

Palestinians described a brief firefight at the entrance to the hospital. Armored personnel carriers then demolished a wall to allow Israeli soldiers into the compound, they added.

The US president also indicated progress in talks between Qatar, Hamas, Israel and other countries to free some of the hostages held by Hamas.

Biden suggested Israel had already agreed to a ceasefire as part of that effort, but backed off and said he was “getting more details.”

“I’m a little optimistic,” Biden said.

While Israel has agreed to pause for several hours each day, Washington is pushing to extend them by a few days to allow more humanitarian aid to enter the besieged area and allow hostages to leave.

US officials said they believed 10 US citizens were among the hostages being held by Hamas.

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