How The U.S. Is Stepping Up Pressure On Israel To Pause Gaza Assault – Mideast War, Day 27
Secretary of State Blinken is traveling back to Israel with a more explicit message for Netanyahu after President Biden said late Wednesday it's time for a "pause" right now. Meanwhile, Israel shows no signs of letting up its ground and air assault on Gaza.
U.S. President Joe Biden’s seemingly off-hand remark about a humanitarian “pause” of the war in Gaza appears to be part of a concerted effort to insist with Israel to at least temporarily halt their military actions.
“I think we need a pause,” Biden said during a campaign speech on Wednesday, after being interrupted by a protester calling for an immediate ceasefire.
When asked what a pause meant, Biden said it was “time to get the prisoners out,” a reference to the hostages held by Hamas, the White House later clarified.
Though Biden has used the word “pause” before, the remarks marked a small but important shift in the position of the White House, which has previously said it would not dictate how Israel conducts its military operations. On Friday, the US was one of only 14 countries in the United Nations to vote “no” to a resolution in the General Assembly calling for a “ceasefire”.
Biden may be feeling pressure from within his own party, as several Democratic lawmakers in the House have introduced a resolution “calling for an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in Israel and occupied Palestine.”
Also, a poll this week showed Biden’s support from Arab-Americans plummeting ahead of his reelection bid next year, from 59% who supported him in 2020 to 17% since the outbreak of violence in the Middle East.
More widely, U.S. officials are worried that the outrage across the Muslim world and beyond about civilian casualties in Gaza, which risks spiraling into a regional and even global conflict that Washington wants to avoid.
On Thursday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed for a return trip to Israel, this time traveling with newly confirmed United States Ambassador to Israel, Jack Lew. While the administration has put an emphasis in recent days on the need for Israel to limit civilian casualties, and abide by international law, Blinken is set to be more direct and explicit on this visit with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
White House officials confirmed on Thursday that Blinken will urge the Israeli government to agree to a series of brief cessations of military operations in Gaza to allow for hostages to be released safely and for humanitarian aid to be distributed.
The U.S. is by far Israel’s strongest ally, sending it billions of dollars in aid annually. To support Israel’s ongoing military offensive, Biden has asked Congress to approve a $14.3bn military aid package to the country.
Blinken wrote this week in The Washington Post: “We don’t have to choose between defending Israel and aiding Palestinian civilians. We can and must do both.”
Netanyahu says Israeli troops near central Gaza City
היום עם הלוחמים שלנו בשטח. יש לנו הצלחות מאוד מרשימות, אנחנו כבר יותר מבפאתי העיר עזה. אנחנו מתקדמים. שום דבר לא יעצור אותנו.— Benjamin Netanyahu - בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) November 2, 2023
אנחנו נתקדם. אנחנו נתקדם וננצח, ונעשה את זה בעזרת ה' ובעזרת הלוחמים הגיבורים שלנו.
אני סומך עליכם, אני מאמין בכם. עם ישראל כולו עומד מאחוריכם - עד… pic.twitter.com/qWSOLH8bV5
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has released a statement saying that the Gaza ground offensive is “at height of the battle.” He also added that Israeli troops are advancing with success and have “passed the outskirts of Gaza City.”
In a post on social media, the Israeli Prime Minister wrote: “Today with our fighters in the field. We have very impressive successes, we are already more than the outskirts of Gaza City. We are making progress. Nothing will stop us. We will move forward. We will advance and win.”
Further airstrikes continue to expand the death toll in Gaza. At least 9,061 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health and more than 1,500 Israelis since October 7.
Italians, Americans among the first to leave Gaza as evacuations continue
For the second day since Oct. 7, evacuations out of Gaza continued into Egypt on Thursday, with hundreds of foreign nationals and injured Palestinians set to pass through the Rafah crossing by day’s end.
Egypt’s foreign ministry said the country was preparing to receive “about 7,000” evacuees from 60 nationalities, though it did not indicate a timeline.
Among those foreign nationals are an estimated 400 Americans approved by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry. U.S. State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller confirmed some American citizens have already left Gaza but he wouldn't provide a specific number.
La Stampa reports that a 6-year-old Italian-Palestinian girl and her Palestinian mother were among the first to leave Gaza on Wednesday.
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said on social media that he "welcomes" the agreement , offering the WHO’s full “support”. "We need an immediate acceleration in the flow of medical aid permitted into Gaza. Hospitals must be protected from bombardment and military use," he added.
Opening of the Rafah crossing
The Brazilian daily O Estado De S. Paulo features yesterday's opening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt on its front page. Injured Palestinians and foreign nationals were allowed out of Gaza, though as the daily notes, no Brazilians among those included on the first day. Holders of foreign passports continue to exit Gaza on Thursday.
“Israel” missing from Chinese maps
After Chinese social media users noticed that they could not see Israel on they online maps anymore, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed that China and Israel have a “normal diplomatic relationship,” and assured that Israel is still marked on official maps.
The country name “Israel” does not appear on maps on popular Chinese mobile applications Baidu or Alibaba-backed Amap, the territory and names of neighboring countries are still, however, shown. The maps also don’t include a country name marker for “Palestine,” which China recognized as a state in 1988 and is listed on its official maps with Israel.
According to the Chinese language version of Deutsche Welle, an official NetEase social media account that runs by the name "Qinghui Youmo”, published an article on Baidu’s removal of Israel’s existence from their maps. NetEase believes that Baidu, specifically their maps department, “does not like” Israel, and that it is obvious who the company is siding with.
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