Israel agrees pauses in fighting but rules out ceasefire

AFP , Friday 10 Nov 2023

Israel has agreed pauses in its offensive in northern Gaza that will allow some civilians to flee heavy fighting, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out any broader ceasefire as a "surrender" to Hamas.

Fire and smoke rise following an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, 8 October, 2023. AFP

US President Joe Biden welcomed the pauses, which formalise an arrangement that has already seen tens of thousands of Palestinians flee devastation in northern Gaza, but also said there was "no possibility" of a ceasefire.

Netanyahu said Israel does not "seek to govern Gaza."

"We don't seek to occupy it, but we seek to give it and us a better future," he told Fox News.

Tens of thousands of civilians have streamed out of devastated northern Gaza in recent days, with men, women and children clutching meagre possessions as they emerge from the devastated warzone.

The UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said 70,000 people had travelled south on the route since 4 November, most of them walking.

Almost 1.6 million people have been internally displaced since 7 October, it added, more than half the area's population.

But the UN estimates hundreds of thousands of civilians remain in the fiercest battle zones in the north.

And while Biden welcomed the pauses as a "step in the right direction", there was little hope for the broader halt to fighting that aid groups and the UN say is desperately needed.

Israel has agreed to daily four-hour military pauses in northern Gaza for humanitarian purposes, the White House said Thursday, even as President Biden said there was no chance of a full ceasefire.


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