As Israel-Hamas war continues, the terms “ceasefire” and “pause” have come up. They’re not the same

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The Biden administration is pushing Israel to agree to temporary pauses in its military actions against Hamas in Gaza in a bid to get the more than 200 hostages Hamas are holding released, and to provide humanitarian assistance to Palestinian civilians.

Gaza is under siege with casualties in the thousands as Israel seeks to root out and destroy Hamas fighters who captured the hostages and killed 1,400 people in an Oct. 7 rampage in Israel.

A temporary pause is not the same as a ceasefire.

At a White House briefing Thursday, John Kirby, National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications, revealed that President Joe Biden helped work out a pause to clear the way for Hamas to release two Evanston women held hostage in Gaza, Judy Raanan and her daughter, Natalie.

“What we’re talking about are temporary, localized pauses in the fighting to meet a certain goal or goals,” Kirby said.

A pause, defined

As defined by the United Nations, a humanitarian pause is “a temporary cessation of hostilities purely for humanitarian purposes. Requiring the agreement of all relevant parties, it is usually for a defined period and specific geographic area where the humanitarian activities are to be carried out.”

A cease fire, defined

The UN defines a ceasefire as a “suspension of fighting agreed upon by the parties to a conflict, typically as part of a political process. It is intended to be long-term and often covers the entire geographic area of the conflict. Its aim is usually to allow parties to engage in dialogue, including the possibility of reaching a permanent political settlement.”

Durbin on ceasefire, pause

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., was asked in a CNN interview on Thursday if a ceasefire in Gaza was “needed now.” Durbin said, “I think it is. At least in the context of both sides agreeing. For example, the release of those who have been kidnapped should be part of this. Immediate release, that should be the beginning of it. An effort should be made to engage in conversation between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Durbin went on to be cited in news reports as the first senator to call for a ceasefire. In an interview with the AP later in the day, Durbin was asked to clarify his comments and he said, “Well, ceasefire is such a loaded word, I tried to stay away from it but the questioner tried to draw me into it. I want to stick with humanitarian pause, but then the notion is the same: to interrupt the hostilities and bring peace to the situation.”

Americans evacuated from Gaza, including family with Elgin ties

A family stranded in Gaza and with connections to Elgin was able to travel to Egypt, departing when the border crossing at Rafah on Gaza’s southern border was opened for emergency evacuations. They are part of a group of 74 U.S. citizens who have been able to leave.

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., said Elgin native Emilee Abuhamad Rauschenberger, the niece of of Carol Rauschenberger, an Elgin City Councilperson, was safe in Egypt.

“I am hugely relieved that Emilee Abuhamad Rauschenberger, Mohammed Abu Hamad, and their five children safely crossed from Gaza into Egypt today,” said Krishnamoorthi in a statement. Krishnamoorthi, in a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, said the family was in Gaza to visit her husband’s family, who live on an olive tree farm in Abasan Al-Kabira.

After getting a warning from the Israeli Defense Forces to leave because they were in a blast area, “the family packed up on October 9 and moved through four different safe-houses, waiting for Rafah border to open.”

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