Wartime unity between the US and Israel will soon face its toughest test

From left, US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. CNN —

Each day the pause in Israel’s war with Hamas is extended saves lives.

A second extension of the truce, lasting one day, came into force early Thursday. But the lull in fighting also sharpens the moral, political and military dilemmas that will play out in the almost inevitable return to full-scale hostilities – including some apparent strategic and humanitarian differences of emphasis between the Biden administration and the Israeli government.

While the truce has so far been surprisingly successful – given that it is taking place with both Israel and Hamas seeking the other’s elimination – there is an unmistakable sense that a fateful moment is approaching within days when Israel will decide on how long it can hold off its scorching military offensive.

That means the debate about what happens next in Gaza is increasingly urgent, even as the US seeks to extend the pause in fighting in the medium term and Israel seeks to temper expectations of restraint in the days to come. US pressing Israel to move civilians out of way if Israel attacks in southern Gaza These profound questions are also taking place against a backdrop of deepening tragedy in a cruel war, even if the emergence of hostages has offered fleeting moments of joy amid the horror. In one wrenching development on Wednesday, Israel said it was looking into a claim that the youngest Israeli hostage, 10-month-old Kfir Bibas, his brother and his mother are no longer alive. Uncertainty, meanwhile, surrounds the future of the remaining hostages, mostly male, that Israel believes remain in Gaza. The humanitarian crisis in the territory is worsening with the World Health Organization warning that more Gazans could die from disease than bombing if an already rudimentary health service […]

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