US President Joe Biden called for a humanitarian pause in the conflict between Israel and Hamas that could involve a "temporary, localized" cessation of hostilities, not a full ceasefire, a senior White House official said Thursday.
In the middle of a campaign event on Wednesday, a member of the audience asked the president to call a ceasefire, to which Biden responded: "I think we need a pause."
On Thursday, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby clarified to the press what such a pause could involve.
"A humanitarian pause (...) is temporary, localized and focused, focused on a particular objective or objectives, entry of humanitarian aid, exit of people," Kirby said.
"The general idea is that in that geographical space, for a limited amount of time, there would be a cessation of hostilities, sufficient to allow whatever is being attempted to be allowed," he added.
The White House previously called for "humanitarian pauses" to allow aid to be delivered to Gaza or to carry out evacuations, but has so far refused to discuss a ceasefire, believing it would only suit Hamas. .
"We are not advocating for a general ceasefire at this point," Kirby confirmed. "As I said before, we believe that a general ceasefire would benefit Hamas by giving it breathing room and time to continue planning and executing attacks on the Israeli people," he said.
The war between Israel and Hamas began almost a month ago, after the bloody attack carried out by Hamas on October 7. In retaliation, the Israeli army has bombed the Gaza Strip incessantly and launched a ground operation in that territory.
The White House statements come as Secretary of State Antony Blinken embarks on a new trip to Israel and Jordan to seek "concrete measures" from his ally to minimize harm to civilians in Gaza.
Biden has pledged his full support and increased military aid to Israel for its retaliatory strikes in Gaza following the Hamas attack, but in a notable change of tone he has also expressed empathy for the suffering of the Palestinians.