US officials have pressed their Israeli counterparts repeatedly for a pause in the fighting in the Gaza Strip. On Thursday, they had some success. They say the Israelis have agreed to stop military operations against Hamas militants for four hours every day.
The spokesperson for the National Security Council, John Kirby, said the first pause was to have taken place sometime Thursday. He said Israeli officials will announce each window three hours beforehand, and the breaks will allow civilians to flee and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid.
The pauses emerged after discussions between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this week.
Netanyahu rejected a ceasefire without the release of more than 200 hostages being held by Hamas.
On Thursday, Biden said he has been pushing for a pause of more than three days to get the captives out. He told reporters that he was "still optimistic."
Reuters has reported that US and Israeli intelligence leaders met with officials in Qatar to discuss a deal to free the hostages. Hamas leaders keep a political office in the capital, Doha.
Senior members of the militant group have also met with Egyptian officials in Cairo to discuss the situation on the ground.