Biden calls for ‘pause’ to Gaza fighting in response to protester

President Joe Biden is calling for a humanitarian “pause” to the fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza as the war stretches into its fourth week.

Speaking Wednesday night at a campaign fundraiser in Minnesota, the president was interrupted during his speech by a protester in the crowd. 

“Mr. President, if you care about Jewish people, as a Rabbi, I need you to call for a cease-fire right now,” the protester said. 

The person was quickly booed by others in the crowd and escorted out before President Biden responded saying, “I think we need a pause. A pause means give time to get the prisoners out.”  

The president has faced increased pressure from humanitarian groups, world leaders and even fellow Democrats, who say a cease-fire is a must to save Palestinian civilians trapped in the line of fire. In the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 surprise attack on Israel, President Biden was quick to publicly declare that Israel has the right to defend itself, and that the U.S. would stand behind its fight against terrorism.

In the weeks since, the president has shifted his approach, instead pushing for diplomatic cooperation to allow civilians to receive aid. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said President Biden received a commitment from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to allow the flow of more aid into Gaza. However, the logistics are complicated, and Kirby said the Biden Administration’s goal of getting 100 truckloads across the border each day still wouldn’t be enough. 

Amid constant bombardment from Israeli air strikes, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians living in Gaza have lost access to water, power, shelter, and other basic necessities, as Israeli troops advance on the territory’s largest residential city — Gaza City. 

Earlier this week, an Israeli strike on Gaza meant to target a Hamas commander in the dense northern city of Jabaliya caused massive destruction — including to a refugee camp — resulting in a large number of casualties. 

What Scripps News observed became what the Israel Defense Forces would later call “intensified attacks” on the northern Gaza Strip. The IDF also said that “it had taken over civilian buildings.” 

In a mark of growing desperation, an agency with the United Nations said thousands of Palestinians broke into aid warehouses in Gaza this week to take flour and basic hygiene products.  UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell told the United Nations Security Council on Monday that Gaza is “on the verge of becoming a catastrophe” due to a lack of safe drinking water or sanitation.  

“Unless access to clean water is urgently restored, more civilians, including children, will fall ill or die from dehydration or waterborne diseases,” Russell said.  

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, more than 8,000 Palestinians have died amid the fighting — mostly women and young children. Over 1,400 people have reportedly died on the Israeli side, many being civilians killed during the initial Hamas terrorist attack.