RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Israel's ground troops advanced toward Gaza City on Thursday, as the U.S. and Arab countries intensified diplomatic efforts to ease the siege of the Hamas-ruled enclave and bring about at least a brief stop to the fighting to help civilians.
President Joe Biden suggested a humanitarian “pause” on Wednesday, as hundreds of foreign passport holders and wounded Palestinians were allowed out of Gaza for the first time, exiting via Egypt's Rafah crossing. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is expected back in the region on Friday.
Arab countries, including those allied with the U.S. and at peace with Israel, have expressed mounting unease with the war. Jordan recalled its ambassador from israel and told Israel's envoy to remain out of the country until there's a halt to the war and the “humanitarian catastrophe” it is causing. More than 3,600 Palestinian children have been killed in 25 days of fighting, as bombings have driven hundreds of thousands of people from their homes and food, water and fuel run low.
Israeli troops pushed into Gaza in larger numbers over the weekend after three weeks of heavy airstrikes that have demolished entire neighborhoods and driven more than half the territory's 2.3 million people out of their homes. The war, the fifth and by far deadliest in Gaza, began when Hamas launched a bloody Oct. 7 rampage into Israel, which killed hundreds of men, women and…