In a series of diplomatic calls on Sunday, United States President Joe Biden emphasized the need for expediting humanitarian aid to Gaza. The White House reported that these discussions took place separately with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, addressing various aspects of the ongoing conflict in Palestine.
During the conversation with President el-Sisi, both leaders committed to a substantial increase in the flow of assistance to Gaza, starting immediately and continuing in the days ahead. Currently, humanitarian aid is primarily entering Gaza through the Rafah crossing, which is under Egypt’s control, as it is the only crossing not administered by Israel. However, international organizations and the United Nations have repeatedly stressed that the current aid levels are insufficient to meet the pressing needs of the 2.3 million Palestinians living in Gaza.
Furthermore, the White House highlighted the concern of Egypt regarding Palestinians seeking refuge in their country and expressed the importance of ensuring that Palestinians in Gaza are not displaced to Egypt or any other nation. President el-Sisi has consistently advocated for Palestinians to remain on their ancestral lands to fulfill their dream of nationhood.
In the call with Prime Minister Netanyahu, President Biden acknowledged Israel’s right and responsibility to protect its citizens from terrorism. However, he emphasized the necessity for these actions to align with international humanitarian law, with a paramount focus on safeguarding civilian lives. The White House underscored the immediate need to significantly increase the flow of humanitarian assistance to address the urgent requirements of civilians in Gaza.
The recent conflict has seen a significant loss of life, with over 8,000 Palestinians, predominantly women and children, perishing in Israeli airstrikes following a surprise attack by Hamas on October 7, which claimed the lives of approximately 1,400 Israelis.
Gaza has experienced communication disruptions and shortages of fuel, food, water, and medical supplies. Israel has also launched ground operations in Gaza, with the conflict escalating in recent days as Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas, continue to engage with Israeli forces.
In addition to discussions about humanitarian aid, President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu explored efforts to secure the release of captives held by Hamas and other groups. Israel has confirmed that 239 captives are being held in Gaza, as reported on Sunday.