On Thursday evening (local time), US President Joe Biden expressed his support for the ceasefire that Israel and the Palestinian groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have agreed.
Biden said he saw a “genuine opportunity” that the truce could further progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
Biden said he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday and before that with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Netanyahu has assured Biden that the ceasefire in Gaza would be formally effective within two hours, the president said. Al-Sisi had informed Biden that the warring Palestinian parties are also behind the truce.
In the brief statement that Biden gave to the assembled press in the White House, he reiterated that the United States is behind Israel’s right to self-defence. He also pledged that the US would help Israel resupply the so-called Iron Dome, the Israeli defence system, to intercept Palestinian missiles.
Biden also pledged that the US would work with the United Nations to improve the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip. He also emphasized that the US ensures that this does not give Hamas the chance to rearm itself.
The US has traditionally been squarely behind ally Israel. On Wednesday, however, Biden began to pressure Netanyahu to end the violence, leaving several hundred dead and some 1,500 injured. Biden said on Wednesday that he expected a de-escalation of the conflict soon. On Thursday evening, he praised Egypt for the mediating role it played in bringing about the ceasefire. Al-Sisi, in turn, thanked President Biden via Twitter for his support for the Egyptian peace initiative.
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab also welcomed news of the ceasefire late on Thursday evening. “All parties must work to make the ceasefire sustainable and to end the unacceptable spiral of violence and civilian deaths.”
The ceasefire officially entered into force at 1 a.m. In the last hours before that, Palestinian fighters fired more rockets, and Israel carried out at least one more airstrike. Both sides have vowed to retaliate against violations of the ceasefire.