ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 142

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As EU weighs ceasefire call, US rejects any such push, says it only benefits Hamas

With IDF poised for ground offensive, Brussels may seek pause in fighting to allow more aid to reach Gaza; Biden says no ceasefire talk until all hostages released

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, October 23, 2023. (AP Photo/ Ariel Schalit)
Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, October 23, 2023. (AP Photo/ Ariel Schalit)

The United States warned Monday that any Gaza Strip ceasefire would benefit Hamas, as the European Union considers a call for a humanitarian pause.

A ceasefire would “give Hamas the ability to rest, to refit, and to get ready to continue launching terrorist attacks against Israel,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

“You can understand perfectly clearly why that’s an intolerable situation for Israel, as it would be an intolerable situation for any country that has suffered such a brutal terrorist attack and continues to see the terrorist threat right on its border,” he said.

Miller said that the United States was separately working to ensure a flow of humanitarian relief into Gaza, with a US envoy, David Satterfield, on the ground working “intensively” on aid. More than a dozen trucks of aid entered Gaza on Monday via the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian-Gaza border.

US President Joe Biden said Monday that any discussions about a Gaza ceasefire could only take place if Hamas frees all hostages seized from Israel in its October 7 attack.

“We should have those hostages released and then we can talk,” Biden said at a White House event when asked if he would support a “hostages-for-ceasefire” deal.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said earlier on Monday that he expected the bloc’s leaders to back a call for a pause in fighting to let in aid.

“I believe that the idea of a humanitarian pause to facilitate the arrival of humanitarian aid, which would allow displaced persons to find shelter, is something that the leaders will support,” Borrell said after talks with EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg.

War between Israel and Hamas began on October 7, when the terror group abruptly launched a ground, air, and sea assault on the Jewish state. Under the cover of a barrage of thousands of rockets fired at towns and cities across the country, over 2,500 gunmen crossed the border and rampaged murderously through southern areas. They slaughtered over 1,400 people — the vast majority of them civilians, of all ages. They also abducted over 220 people, men, women, and children.

Hamas rocket fire has persisted on southern and central Israel, causing more deaths and injuries. Some 200,000 Israelis are believed to have been displaced from both the south and the north, which has also come under barrages from the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror group.

Israel has responded with intensive strikes on Hamas targets, while vowing to destroy the terror group and remove it from power in Gaza, where it has ruled since 2007. Hamas has reported many thousands of deaths, and Gazan civilians residing in the north of the Strip have been told to evacuate. The IDF has also massed troops ahead of an expected ground incursion.

According to several unnamed US officials, as told to The New York Times and The Times of Israel, the White House wants Israel to delay its ground operation in the Gaza Strip to allow more time for negotiations to release the hostages held by terrorists there and for aid to enter the Palestinian enclave.

Two Israeli-American hostages were released last week, a mother and daughter, and two more were released Monday — both elderly Israeli women.

A New York Times report Sunday said the Biden administration also wants to take time to increase preparedness for any potential attacks on US targets in the region from Iran-based groups, which it believes are likely to increase as the war goes on.

Israel has shown no signs of considering a cease-fire, with Israeli leadership repeatedly maintaining that the goal is the removal of Hamas from power, and the IDF remains poised to begin a massive campaign.

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