Biden holds talks with Netanyahu, emphasises ‘critical need to protect civilians’

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WASHINGTON DC: US President Joe Biden on Thursday (local time) held talks with Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, emphasizing the “critical need” to protect civilians and to separate them from Hamas terrorists, including through corridors.

The two leaders discussed developments in Gaza, with Biden stressing the importance of the “continuous and sustained flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza”.

He welcomed Israel’s decision to ensure that fuel levels meet requisite needs. However, Biden stated that much more assistance was urgently required across the board.

A statement released by the White House read, “The President emphasized the critical need to protect civilians and to separate the civilian population from Hamas including through corridors that allow people to move safely from defined areas of hostilities.

“President Biden reiterated his concern about extremist violence committed against Palestinians and the need to increase stability in the West Bank,” it added.

Biden expressed his deep concern for the hostages that remain in Gaza. He reiterated that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) must be permitted to access the remaining hostages held by Hamas terrorists.

He underscored that it was Hamas’ refusal to release young women civilian hostages that caused a breakdown in the humanitarian pause, according to the statement released by the White House. The two leaders agreed to remain in regular consultation.

On Monday, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said Israel was not ready to give up on the release of women hostages held by Hamas, adding that the terror group will “not release” them from their captivity.

“The first phase of the hostage negotiation was about the release of women and children. Hamas continues to hold civilian women, and will not release them. And Israel is not prepared to close the book on those women or to give them up. So Israel is insisting that Hamas follow through on the release of those women. And, then Israel has said, that if Hamas is prepared to follow through on that, Israel is absolutely prepared to discuss additional categories of hostages,” Sullivan said in a press briefing.

He informed that the US was looking at negotiations to broker a fresh ceasefire and ensure the release of the remaining hostages.

“Civilian men, the wounded, and ultimately all of the hostages, the IDF soldiers being held there. We the United States, of course, look at that negotiation and think- How do we get back to it? The easiest, most straightforward way to get back to it would be for Hamas to be held accountable for not following through on its end of the bargain. But then we also have to think about how we get all of our American hostages out, and we are giving thought to that as well,” Sullivan said.

Meanwhile, Master Sgt. (res.) Gal Meir Eisenkot, the son of Israeli Minister Gadi Eisenkot, and Sgt. Major (res.) Jonathan David Deitch of the 55th Brigade’s 6623rd Reconnaissance Battalion have been killed in the Gaza Strip, the Times of Israel reported quoting the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

The IDF informed that Eisenkot (25), of the 551st Brigade’s 699th Battalion from Herzliya, was killed in northern Gaza. It added that three other troopers were seriously injured and shifted to hospitals for treatment.

His father, Gadi Eisenkot, is a former IDF chief of staff and is currently serving as a minister in the emergency government on behalf of Benny Gantz’s National Unity party. He is also an observer on the high-level war cabinet, which is leading the decision-making amid the ongoing war with Hamas, the daily added.

The IDF said Deitch was killed during a gunbattle in the southern Strip, according to The Times of Israel. A total of 89 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the start of Israel’s ground offensive in Gaza. (ANI)

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