President Joe Biden expressed support for a ceasefire between Israel and Gaza during a call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but stopped short of demanding Israel immediately end its strikes in Gaza, The New York Times reports.
Biden “expressed his support for a cease-fire and discussed U.S. engagement with Egypt and other partners toward that end,” the White House said. But Biden did not set a deadline for the ceasefire and did not make the comments publicly.
Netanyahu was undeterred following the call.
“The directive is to continue striking at the terrorist targets,” he said Monday. “We will continue to take whatever action necessary in order to restore quiet and security for all the residents of Israel.”
Death toll mounts:
Hamas has fired about 3,350 rockets toward Israel, the vast majority of which have been intercepted by the country’s “Iron Dome” defense system. At least nine civilians have been killed in Israel, including two children.
At least 212 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, including 61 children. Officials say more than 600 homes and businesses have been destroyed and more than 6,400 have been damaged.
The United Nations said Monday that at least 800,000 Gaza residents are without access to safe drinking water.
Palestinians in Israel called a general strike on Tuesday and protested the ongoing bombardment.
Senators call for immediate ceasefire:
A group of nearly 30 Democratic senators led by Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff called for an immediate ceasefire in a joint statement on Monday.
"To prevent any further loss of civilian life and to prevent further escalation of conflict in Israel and the Palestinian territories, we urge an immediate ceasefire," the statement said.
Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy, the chairman if the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia and Counterterrorism, and ranking member Sen. Todd Young also issued a bipartisan call for calm.
"Israel has the right to defend itself from Hamas' rocket attacks, in a manner proportionate with the threat its citizens are facing," they said. "As a result of Hamas' rocket attacks and Israel's response, both sides must recognize that too many lives have been lost and must not escalate the conflict further. We are encouraged by reports that the parties are exploring a ceasefire. We hope that this ceasefire can be reached quickly and that additional steps can be taken to preserve a two-state future."