Biden says Gaza fighting 'over the top,' pushing for a pause

US President Joe Biden has suggested that Israel's military response in Gaza has been "over the top" and said he is seeking a "sustained pause in the fighting" to help ailing Palestinian civilians.

"I'm of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in the Gaza Strip has been over the top," Biden told reporters at the White House.

He added that he has been pushing for a deal to increase humanitarian aid for Palestinian civilians and a temporary pause in fighting to allow the release of hostages taken by Hamas.

"I'm pushing very hard now to deal with this hostage ceasefire," Biden said. "There are a lot of innocent people who are starving, a lot of innocent people who are in trouble and dying, and it's gotta stop."

The remarks, some of Biden's sharpest public criticism to date of the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, come as the Democratic president has come under increasing domestic pressure to press Israel to stop fighting.

The White House did not respond to a request to elaborate on Biden's remarks.

In the aftermath of Israel's initial attacks, Biden was criticised for making remarks describing the death of Palestinians as "the price of waging a war".

Israel began its military offensive after Hamas militants from Gaza killed 1,200 people and took 253 hostages in southern Israel on October 7. Gaza's health ministry says more than 27,000 Palestinians have been confirmed killed, with thousands more feared buried under rubble.

There has been one truce to date, lasting a week at the end of November.

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