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Biden says Gaza cease-fire may happen later than Monday

Michelle Jamrisko, Bloomberg News on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said he remains hopeful about the prospects for a temporary pause in fighting between Israel and Hamas but that it is unlikely to begin by Monday as he originally sought.

“Hope springs eternal. I was on the telephone with the people in the region. I’m still working on it. Probably not by Monday, but I’m hopeful,” Biden told reporters Thursday at the White House before departing for Texas.

The White House later announced that Biden spoke Thursday with the leaders of Qatar and Egypt, which — along with the U.S. — are moderating the cease-fire negotiations between Israel and Hamas.

Biden this week expressed optimism that negotiators were making progress and that a cease-fire could take effect by Monday. U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said last weekend that representatives had agreed on the “broad contours” of a deal.

Biden cautioned that a deadly confrontation earlier Thursday around an aid convoy in Gaza will complicate those talks. The emerging agreement calls for a six-week stoppage in fighting to allow for the release of Israeli hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners and for more humanitarian supplies to enter the war-torn territory. The president said his administration was looking into the incident.

“This latest event needs to be thoroughly investigated,” White House deputy press secretary Olivia Dalton told reporters later Thursday aboard Air Force One.

 

A Hamas official told Bloomberg News that the killings around the aid shipment cast a cloud on talks to secure a pause in fighting. The official said the group, considered a terrorist organization by the U.S. and European Union, is considering freezing the negotiating process until Washington and its allies apply more pressure on Israel to stop its military onslaught.

Over 100 Palestinians were killed and more were injured Thursday, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health authority, as food trucks tried to deliver humanitarian aid to the northern part of the strip. Local officials blamed Israeli forces for the violence.

Deadly chaos

An eyewitness, Mohammed al-Shouli, described a tumultuous scene on the ground, telling Bloomberg News in a phone interview that thousands of people had gathered to wait for the convoy and began to swarm the trucks as they started passing an Israeli checkpoint around 4 a.m.

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