President Biden on Wednesday night said he believed there should be a humanitarian pause in the Israel-Hamas war to get the hundreds of hostages out of Gaza.
“I think we need a pause,” Biden said after being interrupted by a heckler at a campaign event in Minnesota, adding that a pause “means give time to get the [hostages] out. Give time.”
According to the Israeli government, Hamas is holding more than 220 people hostage, dozens who whom are kids and more than half of whom are of foreign nationalities.
During his speech, Biden told the crowd that he was “the guy that convinced” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to call for a cease-fire to let people out of Gaza, and who spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi “to convince him to open the door.”
Despite reluctance to do so, Egypt on Wednesday opened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza to allow hundreds of people with foreign passports, as well as ambulances carrying wounded Gazans, to exit the war-torn territory for the first time since Hamas’ massive October 7 surprise attack on Israel.
Biden’s remarks Wednesday were a departure from his position when the war began—that the White House would not tell Israel how to respond to Hamas’ acts of terrorism.
Since then, Biden has been facing intensifying pressure from human rights groups, other world leaders and liberal Democrats, who say that the Israeli bombardment of Gaza to root out Hamas is punishing civilians and that it is time for a cease-fire.
Last week, leaders of the European Union called for humanitarian corridors into Gaza and a pause in the airstrikes to allow aid to get into the territory.
And while Egypt has allowed 45 or so humanitarian aid trucks to enter Gaza through Rafah, the head of the United Nations’ World Food Program, Cindy McCain, has blasted what she has called overly stringent checks of those trucks allowing only a “dribble” of assistance to pass into the territory.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby on Wednesday said the goal is to get up to 100 trucks a day to across the border into Gaza.