US President Joe Biden called for a “pause” in the Israel-Hamas conflict in an election campaign speech in Minneapolis on Wednesday (1).
With that, the president was speaking to a group of around 200 people when a woman interrupted him and asked him to call for a ceasefire.
Describing herself as a rabbi, she said: “I need you to call for a ceasefire immediately.”
“I think we need a break,” Biden said. A pause “would give time to remove the prisoners,” he said.
White House officials later explained that he was referring both to removing hostages held by Hamas and bringing in humanitarian aid, according to the Associated Press.
It is worth remembering that Israel has been bombing Gaza since the Hamas attacks on October 7, which killed 1,400 people and took 239 hostages.
The local Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza says more than 8,700 people have been killed since Israel’s retaliatory strikes began.
Biden initially supported Israel, but his position appears to have changed in the face of the humanitarian crisis and the high number of civilian deaths in Gaza.
His request for a pause marks a slight change in tone from the White House, which has long said it would not get involved in the way Israel, a close ally, conducts its military operations.
After the woman questioning him was removed from Biden’s speech, the president said war was a “complicated” issue and acknowledged the emotions it generates.
“This is incredibly complicated for the Israelis. It’s incredibly complicated for the Muslim world as well… I supported a two-state solution; I supported it from the beginning.”
Namely, intense fighting in Gaza has been going on for weeks.
On Thursday morning (2), dozens of bombs were heard falling in Gaza city – the sound of them exploding in nearby buildings was sporadically interrupted by machine gun fire.