Netanyahu Rejects Military’s 11-Hour Fighting Pauses

( – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized the military’s plans to pause fighting along a main road in Gaza to allow foreign aid to enter the bombarded region.

Israel’s military announced on June 16 that there would be daily pauses in the fighting between 5 A.M. and 4 P.M. from Kerem Shalom Crossing to Salah al-Din Road and north of the route. An Israeli official stated that the prime minister told his military secretary that the terms were “unacceptable”.

The Israeli military clarified that while fighting would pause in the defined area, it would continue its assault on the southern city of Rafah, which is currently the focal point of its operations in southern Gaza. Netanyahu disappointed both moderates and far-right members of the country’s coalition by dissolving Israel’s war cabinet following centrist Benny Gantz’s decision to quit the emergency government.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, far-right members of the coalition, demanded that Israel continue its assault on Gaza. They called on Netanyahu to establish a new war cabinet following Gantz’s departure, but the prime minister turned them down.

Attempts to supply the bombarded region of Gaza with urgently needed aid were hindered in May by extremists who blockaded aid trucks. Video footage of the incident showed children as young as 9 stamping on and destroying food. In June the US imposed sanctions on the “violent extremist” Tsav 9 group in response to the widely condemned incident.

Israel’s controversial assault on Rafah, which it claims is the last stronghold of Hamas, has been met with criticism from foreign leaders due to the city housing a million refugees. In February 2024 the United Nations Security Council was warned by three senior UN officials calling for a ceasefire that famine was imminent in Gaza. As the Rafah offensive cut access to a warehouse and further cut off Gaza’s food supply, the World Food Programme reported that cases of acute malnutrition in children under the age of 2 had doubled in northern Gaza.

The humanitarian crisis in Gaza since October 2023 has become so severe that the International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan requested arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant along with the Hamas leaders. Charges of war crimes presented by Khan against Tel Aviv included extermination and using starvation as a weapon of war.

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