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Biden presses Netanyahu on protecting civilians as fighting rages in northern Gaza

Israel battled Hamas fighters on Saturday in pursuit of its elusive goal of full control of northern Gaza after the UN Security Council (UNSC) appealed for more aid for the Palestinian enclave but stopped short of demanding a ceasefire.

Israel’s chief military spokesperson said that its forces had achieved almost complete operational control of northern Gaza and were preparing to expand the ground offensive to other areas in the Strip, with a focus on the south.

US President Joe Biden discussed the situation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, the White House said. Israel’s main ally has kept up its support while expressing concern over the growing casualty toll and humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Biden declined to detail his conversation with Netanyahu, telling reporters it was a “private conversation.”

But, he added: “I did not ask for a ceasefire.”

Biden and Netanyahu talked in detail about Israel’s military operations in Gaza including “its objectives and phasing,” the need to protect civilian lives and securing the release of hostages being held captive, the White House said.

US officials have said they want and expect Israel soon to shift its military operations in Gaza to a lower-intensity phase during which there will be more targeted operations focused on the Hamas leadership and its infrastructure.

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