Chaos, Confusion and Consternation

The ongoing war in Gaza, a subject of international concern and consternation, has seen significant developments recently. As of this second week in November 2023, Israeli forces have intensified their military operations in northern Gaza, effectively severing it from the rest of the territory. This action is part of Israel’s month-long conflict with Hamas, the actual governing authority in the Gaza Strip, which is widely recognized as a terrorist organization by countries including the United States, the European Union, and Israel.

US President Joe Biden, in response to the escalating conflict, has been actively engaged in diplomatic efforts to mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Biden encouraged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to implement daily four-hour humanitarian pauses in the military assault on Hamas-controlled northern Gaza. These pauses are intended to provide a window for remaining residents to leave the area and the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The White House announced that Israel had agreed to these pauses, which would be communicated at least three hours in advance. Additionally, Israel committed to opening a second corridor for civilians to flee the conflict zones, supplementing the main north-south highway with a coastal road. This measure aims to facilitate safer civilian movement away from areas of intense military activity.

The conflict has exacted a heavy toll. Israeli officials estimate that militants have taken 239 hostages, including children and the elderly, during an attack on October 7, which also resulted in 1,400 deaths in Israel. In Gaza, more than 10,800 people have been killed, according to the territory’s Hamas-controlled Health Ministry. The US acknowledges that fewer than 10 Americans are among the hostages.

The Role of the Biden Administration

The Biden administration has also been involved in efforts to negotiate the release of hostages held by Hamas and other militant groups. This initiative is part of a broader diplomatic push involving indirect talks in Qatar, with the participation of CIA Director William Burns. Qatar, known for its intermediary role in international dealings with Hamas, facilitates these discussions. However, the US official emphasized that Burns is not playing a leading role in the negotiations.

Despite these diplomatic efforts, nearly half of the Democrats in the US disapprove of Biden’s handling of the Israel-Hamas conflict, reflecting internal divisions within the party over the situation.

On the Israeli side, Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, a military spokesperson, stated that there had been no change in Israeli tactics, describing the humanitarian pauses as tactical and localized, intended for aid delivery and civilian evacuation rather than signaling a ceasefire.