Israel has agreed to four-hour humanitarian pauses in fighting every day – allowing Palestinians in northern Gaza to evacuate, the White House has said.
Despite the US announcement Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested any pauses would not be across the whole territory, and there was no official confirmation of a plan for recurring breaks.
An Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) spokesperson told Sky News there was no significant change on the ground.
President Joe Biden later tweeted there would be: “Two humanitarian passages that will allow people to flee hostile areas in Gaza.
“Let me be clear,” he added, “Israel makes its own decisions.
“They are fighting an enemy embedded in the civilian population, which places innocent Palestinian people at risk.
“They have an obligation to distinguish between terrorists and civilians and fully comply with international law.”
Fighting between Israel and Hamas has intensified in the north and in Gaza City – forcing thousands to flee to the south.
President Biden has been pushing for a multi-day stoppage, in the hope this could lead to hostages being released.
The US president said there is “no possibility” of a formal ceasefire at the moment – and expressed frustration that it had taken so long for the humanitarian pauses to be enforced.
Under the agreement, Israel would announce each four-hour window at least three hours in advance.
ActionAid has warned this is not enough – and only a permanent ceasefire will help the people of Gaza.
Riham Jafari, a coordinator for the international charity, said: “Today’s announcement offers precious little to the two million people in Gaza – displaced, injured and traumatised – who have faced a month of relentless bombardment and seen critical infrastructure all but destroyed.
“What use is a four-hour pause each day to hand communities bread in the morning before they are bombed in the afternoon? What use is a brief cessation in hostilities when hospital wards lie in ruins and when roads used to deliver medical supplies and food are destroyed?”
Israeli strikes have pounded Gaza City – and Israeli troops were about 1.8 miles from al Shifa Hospital in the heart of the city centre, the hospital’s director said.
Many are fleeing along roads such as the Salah al Din – with some carrying white flags to show they are civilians.
The IDF said it had taken a key Hamas stronghold after a 10-hour battle.
Troops belonging to the Nahal Brigade, one of the IDF’s main infantry units, secured “Outpost 17” in west Jabaliya in northern Gaza.
The IDF said it engaged in fighting “above ground and in an underground route”, suggesting Hamas may have used some of its vast tunnel network during the battle.