Gaza war: Joe Biden gives tough message to Benjamin Netanyahu, asks Israel to ensure immediate ceasefire 

US President Joe Biden has told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that an immediate ceasefire is essential to stabilise and improve the humanitarian situation and protect civilians in Gaza. This statement came yesterday, following the deaths of seven humanitarian aid workers in Gaza, including an American, in an Israeli military strike that was aimed at Hamas.

"He urged the Prime Minister to empower his negotiators to conclude a deal without delay to bring the hostages home," the White House said in a statement.
Joe Biden interacting with Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo Courtesy: Benjamin Netanyahu X page

“[President Biden] urged the Prime Minister to empower his negotiators to conclude a deal without delay to bring the [Israeli] hostages home,” the White House said in a statement.

“He made clear the need for Israel to announce and implement a series of specific, concrete, and measurable steps to address civilian harm, humanitarian suffering, and the safety of aid workers,” the statement added.

“He made clear that US policy with respect to Gaza will be determined by our assessment of Israel’s immediate action on these steps,” the White House said, reflecting the strong message given by Biden to Netanyahu.

Also read: Israeli strike at Hamas kills 7 aid workers in Gaza; Netanyahu expresses “regret”, Biden “outraged”

The two leaders also discussed public Iranian threats against Israel and the Israeli people. “President Biden made clear that the United States strongly supports Israel in the face of those threats,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, United Nations officials had launched assessment visits to Gaza, and its agencies planned to resume night-time aid deliveries on Thursday. The agencies gave it a 48-hour pause following the killing of seven World Central Kitchen relief workers in a convoy delivering food in the Gaza Strip, where intense Israeli bombardment and ground operations continue.

International aid workers killed in an Israel strike in Gaza
These seven international aid workers of the charity World Central Kitchen have been killed in an Israel strike in Gaza. Photo courtesy:

“The situation in Gaza is disastrous,” said World Health Organization (WHO) chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “Once again, WHO demands a ceasefire. Once again, we call for all hostages to be released, and for lasting peace.”

UN Spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said yesterday that because of what happened to the World Central Kitchen aid team, “we had to pause to regroup and reassess”, adding that a convoy would be deployed on Thursday night, “hopefully making it to the north”.

Top UN officials have been warning that famine looms in northern Gaza, as Israel continues to restrict aid entry, especially in the north.

UN Human Rights Council vote on Israel

The 47-member UN Human Rights Council prepared to vote on Friday on several draft resolutions related to the war in Gaza on the final day of its current session in Geneva.

Drafts include one calling for an arms embargo on Israel, tabled on the heels of the Israeli drone-fired missile attack on the World Central Kitchen convoy, mistaken for a Hamas target. The convoy was delivering emergency food aid shipped in from Cyprus.

By provisions of the draft resolution, the UN Council would call on all states “to cease the sale, transfer and diversion of arms, munitions and other military equipment to Israel, the occupying Power, in order to prevent further violations of international humanitarian law and violations and abuses of human rights”.