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Gaza: Biden says he is working for an “immediate ceasefire” and warns Israel

Joe Biden urged Israel ël à not use humanitarian aid as "bargaining currency" in the Gaza Strip, starving after five months of fighting, while saying they are working to achieve their goals. "an immediate ceasefire".

In his State of the Union address on Thursday, the US president also announced the construction of a temporary port in Gaza to deliver more aid to the Palestinian territory where hopes of a quick truce between Israel and Hamas is fading.

The delivery of humanitarian aid by airdrop or by sea cannot replace land delivery, however, say senior UN officials who warn of an “almost inevitable widespread famine” in Gaza.

“I am working hard to achieve an immediate ceasefire of at least six weeks,” said Joe Biden, as the war between Israel and the movement Palestinian Islamist movement has just entered its 6th month.

Aid “cannot be a secondary consideration nor a bargaining chip”, he stressed , also saying he had ordered the US military to establish a port in Gaza allowing “a massive increase” in the amount of aid delivered each day.

Main ally of Israel, the United States is putting increasing pressure on the Israelis who are now only allowing aid to enter Gaza in trickles from Egypt.

Gaza: Biden says he is working for an “immediate ceasefire” and warns Israel

Humanitarian aid packages dropped in the northern Gaza Strip, March 7, 2024 © AFP – JACK GUEZ

The construction of a “temporary pier” will take several weeks and does not mean the deployment of American soldiers on the ground, American officials said, specifying that the Israelis had been informed.

The maritime aid will, they say, leave from the port of Larnaca in Cyprus, the European Union country geographically closest to Gaza, where the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, is expected on Friday.< /p>

While, according to the UN, 2.2 million people – the vast majority of the population – are threatened with famine in the cramped and besieged territory, several countries, including the United States and France, carried out new airdrops of food there on Thursday.

Gaza: Biden says he is working for an “immediate ceasefire” and warns Israel

Palestinian children carry utensils on their way to a food distribution in Khan Younes, southern Gaza Strip, March 7, 2024 © AFP – –

“Air and sea cannot replace what must arrive by land”, nevertheless insisted the UN coordinator in charge of aid for Gaza, Sigrid Kaag.

“The diversification of land supply routes (…) remains the optimal solution: easier, faster, cheaper”, she declared on Thursday after a closed meeting of the Security Council.

In Madrid, Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) also pleaded for the opening of road crossing points allowing “to have large-scale daily convoys”.

– Talks “next week” –

According to the Hamas Ministry of Health, at least 20 civilians, most of the children died of malnutrition and dehydration.

Gaza: Biden says he is working for an “immediate ceasefire” and warns Israel

Palestinians carry their belongings after briefly returning to Khan Younes, in the southern Gaza Strip, March 7, 2024 © AFP – –

The situation is particularly critical in the north where the delivery of aid by land is almost impossible due to fighting, destruction and looting.

So far, the war has left 30,800 dead in Gaza, the majority civilians, according to the Ministry of Health.

The mediators – United States, Qatar, Egypt – hoped to reach an agreement on a truce associated with a release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners before Ramadan, the holy month of fasting for Muslims, which starts early next week.

But their discussions in Cairo with Hamas representatives were suspended after four days and “are set to resume next week”, according to pro-government Egyptian media Al-Qahera News.

Gaza: Biden says he is working for an “immediate ceasefire” and warns Israel

Smoke above Khan Younes, in the south of the Gaza Strip after an Israeli bombardment, March 7, 2024 © AFP – SAID KHATIB

They are not “broken” and the “differences are fading”, assured the United States Ambassador to Israel, Jack Lew.

The Hamas delegation left Cairo for Doha where the movement's leader, Ismaïl Haniyeh, is based, because it had not seen its “minimum requirements” met by Israel, according to a Palestinian official.

Hamas demands, before any agreement, a definitive ceasefire and a withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza, which Israel refuses.

– “Like an earthquake” –

The war was started on October 7 by an attack of unprecedented scale by Hamas which left at least 1,160 dead, most of them civilians, in southern Israel, according to an AFP count.

Gaza: Biden says he is working for an “immediate ceasefire” and warns Israel

Trucks entering the Gaza Strip © AFP – Omar KAMAL, Gal ROMA

Approximately 250 people were also kidnapped and taken to Gaza that day, and 130 hostages are still being held there, of whom 31 are believed to have died.

In response, Israel vowed to annihilate Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007 and which it considers a terrorist organization along with the United States and the European Union.

“The Israeli army will continue to operate throughout the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah, the last stronghold of Hamas,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated on Thursday.

To achieve “total victory”, Israel says it is preparing a ground offensive on Rafah, in the far south of the Gaza Strip against the closed border with Egypt, where nearly 1, 5 million Palestinians according to the UN.

Gaza: Biden says he is working for an “immediate ceasefire” and warns Israel

Israeli tanks on the border with the Gaza Strip, March 7, 2024 © AFP – JACK GUEZ

3 km further north, Israeli tanks left the center of Khan Yunis this week, leaving behind immense destruction after months of fighting and aerial bombardment.

“You can't find your home anymore. Honestly, it's like there was an earthquake,” Samir says, back in the town from which he was displaced.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116