US president: Gaza ceasefire unlikely by Monday, shootings to complicate talks

Ceasefire prospects in Gaza, according to US President Joe Biden, have diminished for Monday, with a recent shooting incident at an aid point complicating negotiations.

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Biden indicated on Thursday that the US was evaluating conflicting reports regarding the incident, where Gaza's health ministry claimed Israeli troops had fatally shot 104 individuals.

Earlier this week, Biden expressed optimism about a potential Monday ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, conditioned on the release of hostages by Hamas. However, as he departed for a trip to the US-Mexico border, he tempered expectations, acknowledging the challenges ahead. During his departure, Biden remarked to reporters, "Hope springs eternal," when asked about the ceasefire timing, suggesting a possibility beyond Monday but maintaining hopefulness.

Citing two divergent accounts of what happened, Biden acknowledged his lack of clarity over the incident that occurred in Gaza City earlier on Thursday. He was worried that this would make the delicate negotiations for a ceasefire more difficult.

The health ministry in Gaza, under Hamas, reported that Israeli forces had fired upon a crowd at an aid distribution point, resulting in over 100 deaths and 700 injuries. Israeli sources contended that troops had fired at a crowd they perceived as a threat to Israeli forces, with some casualties caused by the chaotic situation, including individuals being crushed by aid trucks.

The international community, including the US, is under growing pressure to seek a ceasefire and reduce civilian losses, despite the US's previous support for Israel, especially in the wake of the October 7 Hamas attack. The Palestinian death toll from the conflict has reportedly topped 30,000, according to the health ministry in Gaza earlier on Thursday.

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