As the fighting between Israel and Hamas intensifies on the ground and in the air, President Joe Biden called for a “pause” in the war to allow time to get “prisoners” out.
“I think we need a pause,” Biden said in response to a question from a protester who interrupted him at a campaign stop in Minnesota, NBC News reported. Asked to clarify what a pause meant, he said, “A pause means give time to get the prisoners out. Give time.”
White House officials later clarified the president meant hostages and humanitarian aid.
How many hostages remain in Gaza?
Negotiations to free 239 hostages, including children and the elderly, have continued since Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack killed about 1,400 people in Israel. After Hamas breached Israel’s border wall, other groups from Gaza took additional captives.
Babies, children, women, the elderly and people with disabilities were among those taken hostage, according to Israel Defense Forces spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
Just four have been released and one was rescued. Those released are Judith Ranaan, 59, and Natalie Ranaan, 17, an American mother and daughter; and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, and Nuri Yitzhak, 79, two Israeli citizens.
Who is the protester that questioned Biden?
The protester, who identified herself as Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg, said she wanted Biden to call for a cease-fire.
“Mr. President, you care about Jewish people. As a rabbi, I need you to call for a cease-fire right now,” she said. After the crowd tried to quiet her, she said, “I would love for you to answer my question,” at which point Biden called for a pause, per NBC News.
Biden went on to say, “This is incredibly complicated for the Israelis. I can thoroughly understand the emotions on the Palestinian side of the argument and the Jewish side of the argument.”
The White House has refused to call for a cease-fire but has signaled that the Israelis should consider humanitarian pauses to allow civilians to receive aid and for foreign nationals trapped on the strip to leave Gaza, The Associated Press reported.
How many Americans are trapped in Gaza?
Hundreds of Americans who were trapped in Gaza appeared set to leave on Thursday as foreign nationals continued to cross over the Rafah border crossing into Egypt after it opened to them for the first time since the Oct. 7 Hamas terrorist attack on Israel, CBS News reported Thursday.
A list released by Gaza’s Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry had the names of 400 American nationals who were approved to cross over the border on Thursday. The U.S. State Department estimates that there are around 400 Americans stuck in Gaza.
Biden praised U.S. partners in the region for their help in paving the way for wounded Palestinians and foreign nationals, including some U.S. citizens, to escape Gaza and said his administration is “working nonstop to get Americans out.”
How many people have died in the Israel-Hamas war?
More than 9,000 people have been killed by Israeli strikes on Gaza since the war started, Reuters reports, citing the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza. Another 32,000 people have been injured. Those killed include 3,760 children as well as 2,326 women, according to the ministry.
More than 1,400 people in Israel were killed, most of them civilians, in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack.