Israel’s Army Announces ‘Tactical Pause’ in Parts of Gaza

The move drew pushback from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on June 16.
Israel’s Army Announces ‘Tactical Pause’ in Parts of Gaza
Members of the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) work at a staging area near the border of Gaza, outside of the city of Sedero in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Nov. 27, 2023. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Jack Phillips
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Israel’s military said on June 16 that it would pause fighting during daytime hours along a route in southern Gaza to free up a backlog of humanitarian aid deliveries for Palestinians in the restive area.

“To increase the volume of humanitarian aid entering Gaza and following additional related discussions with the U.N. and international organizations, a local, tactical pause of military activity for humanitarian purposes will take place from 08:00 until 19:00 every day until further notice along the road that leads from the Kerem Shalom Crossing to the Salah al-Din Road and then further north,” the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement on June 16.

The IDF added that the tactical pause is another step in aid efforts carried out by the Israeli military, adding that it will “continue to support humanitarian efforts on the ground.”

The pause, which specifically applies to about 7.4 miles of road in the area of Rafah, is not a complete cease-fire in the territory, which has been sought by the United States, the United Nations, and a number of other countries

The pause is aimed at allowing aid trucks to reach the nearby Israel-controlled Kerem Shalom crossing, the main entry point for aid, and travel safely to the Salah a-Din highway, a main north-south road, the military said. The crossing has had a bottleneck since Israeli ground troops moved into Rafah in early May.

A U.N. humanitarian spokesperson, Jens Laerke, said that Israel’s announcement was welcome but “no aid has been dispatched from Kerem Shalom today,” while offering no details. Mr. Laerke said the United Nations hopes for further concrete measures by Israel, including smoother operations at checkpoints and the regular entry of needed fuel.

Some Israeli officials, however, were critical of the IDF’s announcement, including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who released a statement to local media that he was not aware of the “tactical pause” and added that he told military officials that “this was unacceptable to him.”

“After an inquiry, the Prime Minister was informed that there was no change in [Israeli military] policy and that the fighting in Rafah continued as planned,” the statement said.

Other members of the Netanyahu government, including National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, were similarly critical of the decision-making process.

“The management of humanitarian efforts in the Gaza Strip ... has been lackluster for the past few months,” Mr. Smotrich wrote on social media on June 16, according to a translation from Hebrew into English. “The IDF Spokesperson’s detached statement did not reflect any change happening on the ground.”

The IDF’s general staff, he claimed, is “completely detached from the feeling among the troops on the ground” and is attempting to “create international legitimacy instead of leaving that to the political echelon [and] centering its attention on winning the war.”

The announcement came a week after former Gen. Benny Gantz quit the Netanyahu government, accusing the prime minister of having no strategy in Gaza months after the conflict erupted following an attack carried out by the Hamas terrorist group. It comes weeks after the International Criminal Court announced it would seek an arrest warrant for Mr. Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three Hamas leaders.

About a week ago, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Mr. Netanyahu about a possible cease-fire and an increase in aid in Gaza, according to a State Department readout.

“The Secretary reiterated that the United States and other world leaders will stand behind the comprehensive proposal outlined by President [Joe] Biden that would lead to an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of all hostages, and a significant and sustained increase in humanitarian assistance for distribution throughout Gaza,” the readout states.

Mr. Blinken had told Mr. Netanyahu that the United States has an “ironclad commitment” to Israel’s military efforts and security but said that there should be policies that “unlock the possibility of calm along Israel’s northern border.”

He also told the Israeli leader that there should be efforts to prevent the Israel–Hamas conflict from spreading.

Jack Phillips is a breaking news reporter with 15 years experience who started as a local New York City reporter. Having joined The Epoch Times' news team in 2009, Jack was born and raised near Modesto in California's Central Valley. Follow him on X: https://twitter.com/jackphillips5
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