UPDATE – Biden tells Netanyahu he expects de-escalation today in Gaza


By Michael Hernandez

WASHINGTON (AA) – US President Joe Biden told Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu he expects Israel to de-escalate its military offensive on the Gaza Strip today, the White House said on Wednesday.

The message was conveyed during a bilateral telephone call between the leaders, the fourth in a week.

"The president conveyed to the prime minister that he expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire," spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One.

Asked specifically by a reporter why Biden did not demand an immediate ceasefire, Jean-Pierre said, "The president is very clear here in the readout. He says he wants to be on the path to a ceasefire."

Since May 10, at least 221 Palestinians have been killed, including 63 children and 36 women, and 1,530 others injured by Israeli attacks across the blockaded territory, according to the Gaza-based Health Ministry.

In all, 12 people have also been killed in Israel in Palestinian rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.

Earlier Wednesday, Netanyahu said the Israeli military aims for a "forceful deterrence" against Palestinian groups in Gaza. He, however, did not exclude a ground operation to "conquer them".

He further maintained there is no timeframe to end the military offensive on Gaza.