President Biden has welcomed Israel’s decision to allow some more fuel into Gaza, the White House said, but he stressed during a call with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday that more aid was urgently needed and called for corridors to allow people to flee for safer areas.
Since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks on Israel triggered all-out war, Israel has sharply restricted the flow of supplies, including fuel, into Gaza, arguing that it could fall into the hands of Hamas. Under international pressure over the dire humanitarian situation there, Mr. Netanyahu’s office said on Thursday that it would allow “a minimal supplement of fuel” into the enclave and add a second inspection point for trucks carrying relief supplies.
The White House said in a statement that Mr. Biden had “welcomed the recent Israeli decision to ensure that fuel levels will meet requisite needs, but stressed that much more assistance was urgently required.”
He also expressed concern for the hostages remaining in Gaza, noting that Hamas had not released some young women during a recent truce, a factor that “led to a breakdown in the humanitarian pause.” Israel says the number of hostages remaining in Gaza is now believed to be 138.
Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III also urged increased delivery of humanitarian assistance and efforts to protect civilians in a call with his counterpart, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, according to a Pentagon statement. He also expressed concern over cross-border fire this week between the Israeli military and Hezbollah, the Iran-backed Lebanese militia, that resulted in the deaths of a Lebanese Armed Forces soldier and an Israeli civilian.
Palestinians in southern Gaza continue to endure catastrophic conditions, with nearly nine weeks of Israeli bombardment driving almost 1.9 million people to flee their homes, according to aid agencies’ estimates.
John F. Kirby, a National Security Council spokesman, responded on Thursday to criticism that the United States was not doing enough to help Palestinians.
“Name me one more nation, any other nation, that’s doing as much as the United States to alleviate the pain and suffering of the people of Gaza,” Mr. Kirby said. “You can’t. You just can’t. The United States, through President Biden, is leading the effort to get trucks, food, water, medicine and fuel in to the people of Gaza.”