On Wednesday, President Joe Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying he expects a rapid de-escalation of military attacks against Palestinian targets in Gaza to pave the way for a cease-fire.
The phone call arrived two days after Biden’s last conversation with Netanyahu. On Monday, President Donald Trump said that Israel has the right to defend itself, but he also called for a cessation of hostilities, urging Israel to make every effort to protect innocent civilians.
The call on Wednesday was more urgent.
“The two leaders had a detailed discussion on the state of events in Gaza, Israel’s progress in degrading the capabilities of Hamas and other terrorist elements and ongoing diplomatic efforts by regional governments and the United States,” the White House said.
“The president conveyed to the prime minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire.”
Biden told Netanyahu in Monday’s call that Israel can defend the strikes for only so long.
In response to Wednesday’s call, Netanyahu said he’s “determined to continue” the strikes until their “objective is achieved — to bring back the quiet and security” to Israelis.
“With every day that passes, we strike more abilities of the terrorist organizations,” Netanyahu said, according to The Jerusalem Post. “We are thwarting more senior commanders, toppling more terrorist towers, striking more arms caches.”
Hostilities continued overnight Tuesday as Israeli attacks against Hamas targets entered its 10th day.
The Norwegian Refugee Council said Tuesday that 11 children between the ages of 5 and 15 that were participating in its trauma program in Gaza were killed in their homes by Israeli airstrikes.
Over 220 people, including more than 60 children in Gaza, and 12 people, including two children in Israel, were killed in what NRC Secretary-General Jan Egeland characterised as a “maddening, crazy exchange of rockets and missiles.”
The NRC’s regional media advisor, Karl Schembri, told CNN that the organisation has dealt with children who have “absolutely terrifying, violent nightmares, that make them unable to function.”
“There is no getting away from the abuse. This isn’t like going to a battlefield where you can stop it. This is the frontline approaching your bedroom, “According to Schembri.
The Israeli military said more than 50 warplanes hit the southern part of the Gaza Strip in fighting late Tuesday. Israel has targeted Hamas tunnels used to hide rockets and other weapons.
Israeli military spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said attacks to destroy the tunnels will be expanded. The network of tunnels lie beneath heavily populated areas, and the bombings are killing civilians living in the buildings above them.
More than 50 Hamas rocket attacks were launched from Gaza on Tuesday, aimed at southern Israeli communities. Two workers from Thailand were killed in the attack, Israeli officials said.
The United Nations Security Council refused to find a consensus on Tuesday to allow for a cease-fire, and France lodged a draught resolution asking for an end to the conflict.
The US has also called for a cease-fire, but has blocked efforts to release a joint declaration, claiming that such a statement would not further de-escalate the crisis.
The Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, called the Security Council’s lack of a consistent stance “shameful.”