President Joe Biden said he hasn’t had a chance to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday. He did, however, ask the Israeli leader to consider a humanitarian pause when the two leaders spoke on Monday.
“I didn’t get a chance to talk to him today. I did ask him for a pause in the past – yesterday. I’m still waiting to hear from other people,” Biden told reporters.
Earlier Tuesday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the administration supports “pauses in the fighting of a temporary nature for specific purposes,” including efforts to secure the safe release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.
Meantime, Vice President Kamala Harris spoke with Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Tuesday, where she “reiterated her support for Israel’s right to defend its citizens and combat terrorism following Hamas’s horrific attack,” according to the White House. The vice president “emphasized the importance of protecting civilian lives and respecting international humanitarian law,” the White House said.
Outside the United States, as Israel’s military response to the Hamas massacre of October 7 goes into its fifth week, criticism from some of Europe’s leaders is growing louder.
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo on Tuesday described Israeli strikes on civilian infrastructure in Gaza as “disproportionate” and “not acceptable,” in one of the stronger public condemnations from an European Union leader.
He appeared to single out an Israeli attack on the Jabalya refugee camp on October 31, which satellite images and video showed had taken out multiple buildings. The Israeli military claimed that it had taken out a top Hamas commander in the strike.
“If there are attacks against Hamas for eliminating terrorists, these attacks must be proportionate. For example, in days before, there was an attack on a refugee camp which killed tens of civilians with the view of eliminating one Hamas terrorist,” De Croo told journalists at a news conference in Brussels.
“This is not proportionate or acceptable,” the Belgian prime minister said.
In Russia, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov urged for “humanitarian pauses” in Israel’s ongoing military operation in the Gaza Strip, expressing deep concern over the “catastrophic” humanitarian situation in the region.
“It is of utmost importance for us in this situation that humanitarian pauses are ensured,” Peskov said. “It is crucial for us that the humanitarian needs of the civilian population of Gaza are met.”
The United Nations Secretary-General also reiterated his calls for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire” and for the release of hostages on Tuesday, according to a spokesperson for António Guterres.
“He will never forget the horrendous images of civilians being killed and maimed and others being dragged away into captivity. He reiterates his appeal for their immediate and unconditional release,” Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the UN chief said in a statement.