Israel has agreed to a daily 'humanitarian corridor.' What does this mean?

Children sit amid the rubble of a building in the aftermath of an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday.
Children sit amid the rubble of a building in the aftermath of an Israeli strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday.
Mohammed Abed | AFP via Getty Images

Israel has agreed to allow civilians stuck in northern Gaza time to move safely to areas in the south for several hours each day, the White House announced.

This ostensibly will also allow more aid to reach Palestinians in Gaza, National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters Thursday.

There will be an announcement made three hours before each pause, Kirby said.

Israel is referring to this as a humanitarian corridor.

Grow the Future of Public Media

MPR News is supported by Members. Gifts from individuals power everything you find here. Make a gift of any amount today to become a Member!

"Israel has an obligation to fully comply with international law, and we believe these pauses are a step in the right direction, particularly to help ensure that civilians have an opportunity to reach safer areas away from the act of fighting," Kirby said Thursday.

This stems from recent discussions between U.S. and Israeli officials.

But the agreement — the framework of which is not new — shouldn't be mistaken for a longer-term cease-fire or humanitarian pause. Israel has already held four- or five-hour pauses several times in the past week. Tens of thousands of Palestinians have managed to use them to head to southern Gaza.

More than 50,000 civilians in Gaza used the "humanitarian corridor" on Thursday, IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said at a press briefing Thursday.

Israel also hasn't committed to pausing airstrikes — rather, they agreed to avoid certain areas during this break.

Establishing a longer humanitarian pause or even a cease-fire is the subject of several ongoing talks over the release of hostages between U.S. officials and leaders in the Middle East.

CIA chief William Burns and leaders of Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency, met with the Qatari prime minister in Doha Thursday to discuss a deal for releasing the some 240 hostages kidnapped one month ago, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, in Egypt on Friday morning, President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi welcomed the Qatar emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, at the Cairo International Airport.

Qatar continues to play a major role in talks to release hostages as it holds the best position to influence Hamas on this issue.

An estimated 240 people were kidnapped by Hamas on Oct. 7.

Around 1,400 people in Israel were killed when Hamas attacked more than a month ago. More than 10,800 people in Gaza have been killed since this war began.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit