The White House says Israel has agreed to daily "humanitarian pauses" to the fighting in northern Gaza to allow civilians to flee the war zone.
The Israeli military will reportedly begin implementing four-hour pauses each day starting Thursday, with an announcement to be made three hours ahead of time. Israeli officials have also said they will open a second corridor along a coastal road for Palestinians to exit.
U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said President Biden asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to begin instituting the pauses during a call on Monday. When asked if he's frustrated with Netanyahu, President Biden said "it's taken a little longer than I hoped."
"We believe these pauses are a step in the right direction," Kirby said. "Particularly to help ensure that civilians have an opportunity to reach safer areas away from the act of fighting."
He added that the U.S. is still in diplomatic talks to try to negotiate the release of more than 200 hostages still in Hamas custody.
"Obviously we don't want to negotiate in public here," Kirby said. "But we are grateful for the assistance that Qatar has already provided. We know they have lines of communication with Hamas that we don't and we're going to continue to work with them and regional partners to try to secure the release of all hostages. But I don't have any updates to give you today."
The latest announcements come as Israeli military officials say they've completely encircled Gaza City and were battling Hamas "in the depths" of the territory's most populated center, signaling a new stage in the war that has claimed thousands of lives. The move into Gaza City risks a further escalation in casualties as Palestinian civilians — who have been face to face with the bombardment of Israeli airstrikes — seek to get out of the line of fire.
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