White House awaiting Hamas response to ceasefire proposal

US officials say more than 300 aid lorries entered Gaza on Sunday, more than any other day since October 7

People unload medical aid from a lorry near Kamal Adwan Hospital in the northern Gaza Strip. Reuters
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The White House on Monday said a ceasefire proposal had been presented to Hamas at the weekend after a “serious round” of negotiations.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby added that aid lorries have been getting into Gaza at a faster rate after President Joe Biden warned Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address the humanitarian crisis.

Mr Kirby told reporters that CIA director William Burns had participated in talks in Cairo aimed at securing a six-week ceasefire deal that would include the release of hostages held by Hamas and more humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip.

“At the end of the weekend, a proposal was submitted to Hamas and now it's going to be up to Hamas to come through,” Mr Kirby said.

“We're taking this very, very seriously,” he added, noting that a response from Hamas could take days.

Mr Kirby also said the Biden administration would press Israel to allow for 300-350 aid lorries to enter Gaza every day, a significant increase from where things stood recently.

Up until Mr Biden called Mr Netanyahu last week to demand that Israel address Gaza’s humanitarian crisis and work for a ceasefire, Israel would typically only let about 100-200 lorries through daily.

Lorries are often blocked from entering Gaza altogether and forced to wait outside the enclave for day sat a time.

Mr Kirby called the increased aid flow “a good start” but noted it was “still not up to the upper range of 350, and what matters is how it can be sustained over time”.

The State Department said 304 aid lorries entered Gaza on Sunday – more than on any day since the war began on October 7.

“That number represents a significant improvement, but it is important not just that we see the daily number continue to grow, but that it'd be sustained over time,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters.

“Our hope is that by later this week, 350 trucks will enter Gaza each day, and we are working hard across the United States government to make that happen.”

Mr Miller said the Israeli cabinet had agreed to open a new crossing into northern Gaza for the delivery of aid, which could be operational this week, and also approved the use of the port in Ashdod, to the north of the enclave.

He added that aid convoys would also move from Jordan through Israel into Gaza.

Israel's military campaign in Gaza, which was triggered by the Hamas attack that Israel says killed nearly 1,200 people, has killed more than 33,000 Palestinians, according to authorities in Gaza, the majority of them women and children.

Updated: April 08, 2024, 7:01 PM