WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House on Monday pressed Israel to work toward a pause in the Gaza conflict to win freedom for more hostages held by Hamas and rapidly increase the flow of humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians.

John Kirby, the White House national security spokesperson, told reporters that some progress had been made in negotiations toward a humanitarian pause but that more work remained to be done.

“We continue to support an extended humanitarian pause,” Kirby said.

He spoke a day after U.S. President Joe Biden spoke by phone to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and told him a military operation in Rafah “should not proceed” without a plan to protect civilians there.

Kirby welcomed news that the Israeli military had freed two hostages during a raid by special forces in Gaza’s southern Rafah neighborhood.

He said there can be no end to the Gaza crisis until Hamas releases all hostages.

(Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland; editing by Deepa Babington)

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