Blinken’s push for humanitarian pauses in Israeli war collapses with Netanyahu

The White House is pushing for multiple pauses in Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza to allow aid to flow in and allow people to safely leave the area.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday that talks of such pauses could facilitate the release of hostages.

Israel on Friday put the latest number of hostages held by Hamas at 241.

But Netanyahu said he would not agree to a ceasefire without the release of hostages.


Blinken meets Netanyahu in Tel Aviv

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, Israel on November 3. (Amos Ben-Gershom (GPO)/Anadolu via Getty Images)

“We see this as a way to further facilitate the ability to get help to … the people who need it,” Blinken said. “We also see it as a way, and a very important one, to create a better environment in which the hostages can be released.”

However, Blinken said a pause would not be a guarantee that the hostages would eventually be freed.

“There are no guarantees of anything as a general proposition, and perhaps even more specifically in the context of the fight against Hamas,” said Blinken, who also met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and the country’s war cabinet. US Ambassador to Israel Jack Lew, who was voted into the post on Tuesday, joined Blinken on the trip.

“But we are absolutely focused on getting the hostages back and returning them to their families safely,” Blinken said. And we believe that, among other things, a humanitarian pause could help that effort, could facilitate it.”

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby first raised the issue of multiple pauses on Thursday, the first time the Biden administration has called for multiple pauses. Kirby said at a White House briefing that Israel agreed to a truce last month that led to the release of two hostages.

Yocheved Lifshitz speaks after the release

Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, who was held hostage in Gaza after being kidnapped during a Hamas attack on Israel on October 7, speaks to members of the press in Tel Aviv a day after being freed by Hamas militants. Blinken said a pause could help get more civilians out of the area. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

Management hopes that the multiple pauses can provide the conditions for further releases. The White House also revealed that at least 79 American dual citizens have crossed into Egypt from Gaza since Wednesday.

The US has so far resisted calls for a ceasefire in the weeks-long conflict with Kirby, saying it would only help Hamas.

“We believe that a general cease-fire would benefit Hamas by giving them space and time to continue to plan and carry out attacks against … against the Israeli people,” Kirby said at Thursday’s White House briefing.


Netanyahu on Friday also rejected international calls for a humanitarian ceasefire.

“Israel refuses a temporary ceasefire that does not include the return of our hostages,” Netanyahu said Friday in a televised address.

Blinken, too, pushed back against calls for a ceasefire.

“We stand strongly with and behind Israel on its right and obligation to defend itself, to defend its people, and to take the necessary steps to ensure that this never happens again,” Blinken said.

“Nothing, nothing has changed. And that will not change in relation to Lebanon, to Hezbollah, to Iran. We have been very clear from the beginning that we are determined not to open a second or third front in conflict.”


Meanwhile, the Israeli army said on Friday morning that its troops killed a Hamas commander in an airstrike in Gaza overnight.

IDF warplanes hit infrastructure and killed Mustafa Dalul, the commander of the Sabra Tel al-Hawa battalion, among other Hamas terrorists, the IDF said.

Dalul, an IDF spokesman said, had been given “a central role in managing the battle against IDF troops in the Gaza Strip.”

Dalloul has also held a number of positions in the Hamas ranks in recent years.

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