US President Joe Biden said Thursday that he sees no scenario in which Israel will agree to stop its military assault on Gaza in its efforts to root out Hamas militants, despite thousands of civilians being killed in the process.
“None. No possibility,” Biden told a pool reporter outside the White House who asked about the chances of a Gaza cease-fire.
The president’s comments come amid growing calls by some Democrats for an end to Israel’s military campaign. More than a dozen House Democrats, led by Rep. Cori Bush (Mo.), recently introduced a resolution urging the administration to push for an immediate de-escalation and cease-fire in the region, along with an infusion of humanitarian aid to Gaza. They’ve held fiery and emotional press conferences pleading for such action.
Most congressional Democrats have resisted appeals for a cease-fire, though, and instead mirrored Biden’s call for a humanitarian “pause” to bring in aid and let trapped civilians get out.
The White House announced on Thursday that Israel has agreed to impose four-hour humanitarian pauses each day in its assault on northern Gaza. Biden had asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday to impose daily pauses like this as a way to help secure pathways for Gaza civilians trying to flee. The US plays a decisive role when it comes to pressuring Hamas to release hostages as well.
“They’re working on it,” Biden told pool reporters Thursday, when asked about delays in Hamas releasing hostages.
Asked if he had been pushing for a three-day pause in bombing in exchange for hostages being released, the president said, “Yes ... I’ve asked for a pause longer than three days.”
Biden continues to face intraparty pressure to do more. Early Thursday afternoon, more than 500 staffers from his 2020 campaign released a public letter demanding that he call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.
“We write to you as alumni of your 2020 presidential campaign. We fought tirelessly to organise millions of Americans to cast their votes for you,” reads the letter, signed by staffers who worked at Biden’s national campaign headquarters, at the Democratic National Committee, and in 21 states. “As President of the United States, you have significant influence in this perilous moment — you must call for a ceasefire, hostage exchange, and de-escalation.”
Their letter states that Israeli forces have already killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, a figure from Gaza’s Health Ministry, and that 1.4 million people have been displaced from their homes. They also point out that more than 800 scholars of conflict studies and international law have warned that Israel’s actions in Gaza may amount to genocide.
“Save the Children estimates that Israel’s bombardment is killing one child in Gaza every 15 minutes,” they said, referring to the international humanitarian group.
“As the President of the United States, you have power to change the course of history, and the responsibility to save lives right now,” their letter adds. “We are counting on you to take that power and responsibility seriously and to meet this moment with the urgency it demands. If you fail to act swiftly, your legacy will be complicity in the face of genocide.”