February 28, 2024

By Wafaa Shurafa, Samy Magdy and Abby Sewell | Related Press

DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mentioned Saturday that Israel’s conflict on Hamas in Gaza will proceed for “many extra months,” pushing again in opposition to persistent worldwide cease-fire calls after mounting civilian deaths, starvation and mass displacement within the besieged enclave.

Netanyahu thanked the Biden administration for its continued backing, together with approval for a brand new emergency weapons sale, the second this month, and prevention of a U.N. Safety Council decision in search of an instantaneous cease-fire. Israel argues that ending the conflict now would imply victory for Hamas, a stance shared by the Biden administration, which on the identical time urged Israel to do extra to keep away from hurt to Palestinian civilians.

In new combating, Israeli warplanes struck the city refugee camps of Nuseirat and Bureij within the middle of the territory Saturday as floor forces pushed deeper into the southern metropolis of Khan Younis.

The Well being Ministry in Gaza mentioned Saturday that greater than 21,600 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s unprecedented air and floor offensive for the reason that lethal Oct. 7 Hamas assault on southern Israel. The ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between the deaths of civilians and combatants, mentioned 165 Palestinians had been killed over the previous 24 hours. It has mentioned about 70% of these killed have been ladies and kids.

The variety of Israeli troopers killed in Gaza fight rose to 170, after the navy introduced two extra deaths Saturday.

The conflict has displaced some 85% of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, sending swells of individuals in search of shelter in Israeli-designated protected areas that the navy has however bombed. Palestinians are left with a way that nowhere is protected within the tiny enclave.

With Israeli forces increasing their floor offensive this week, tens of hundreds extra Palestinians streamed into the already crowded metropolis of Rafah on the southernmost finish of Gaza.

Hundreds of tents and makeshift shacks have sprung up on Rafah’s outskirts subsequent to U.N. warehouses. Displaced individuals arrived in Rafah on foot or on vehicles and carts piled excessive with mattresses. Those that didn’t discover area in overwhelmed shelters pitched tents on roadsides.

“We don’t have water. We don’t have sufficient meals,” Nour Daher, a displaced girl, mentioned Saturday from the sprawling tent camp. “The children get up within the morning desirous to eat, desirous to drink. It took us one hour to search out water for them. We couldn’t carry them flour. Even after we needed to take them to bathrooms, it took us one hour to stroll.”

Within the Nuseirat camp, resident Mustafa Abu Wawee mentioned a strike hit the house of one among his relations, killing two individuals.

“The (Israeli) occupation is doing the whole lot to power individuals to go away,” he mentioned over the telephone whereas serving to to seek for 4 individuals lacking beneath the rubble. “They wish to break our spirit and can, however they’ll fail. We’re right here to remain.”

The State Division mentioned Friday that Secretary of State Antony Blinken instructed Congress he authorised a $147.5 million sale for tools, together with fuses, costs and primers, that’s wanted for 155 mm shells Israel purchased beforehand.

It marked the second time this month that the Biden administration is bypassing Congress to approve an emergency weapons sale to Israel. Blinken made an analogous choice on Dec. 9 to approve the sale to Israel of practically 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition value greater than $106 million.

Each strikes have come as President Joe Biden’s request for a virtually $106 billion assist bundle for Ukraine, Israel and different nationwide safety wants stays stalled in Congress, caught up in a debate over U.S. immigration coverage and border safety. Some Democratic lawmakers have spoken of constructing the proposed $14.3 billion in American help to its Mideast ally contingent on concrete steps by Netanyahu’s authorities to cut back civilian casualties in Gaza throughout the conflict with Hamas.

Blinken, who has repeatedly traveled to the Center East throughout the conflict, was anticipated again in Israel and different international locations within the area in January. U.S. officers have urged Israel to start out shifting from excessive depth fight to extra focused operations, however mentioned they weren’t imposing a deadline.

Netanyahu mentioned Israel wants extra time.

“Because the chief of workers mentioned this week, the conflict will proceed many extra months,” he instructed a televised information convention Saturday. “My coverage is obvious. We’ll proceed to struggle till we now have achieved all of the goals of the conflict, at the beginning the annihilation of Hamas and the discharge of all of the hostages.”

Greater than 120 hostages stay in Gaza, after militants seized greater than 240 within the Oct. 7 assault that additionally killed some 1,200 individuals, largely civilians.

Netanyahu can be at odds with the Biden administration over who ought to run Gaza after the conflict. He has rejected the U.S.-backed thought {that a} unified Palestinian authorities ought to run each Gaza and components of the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution as a precursor to eventual statehood. As an alternative, he has insisted on open-ended Israeli safety management in Gaza, with out saying what would come subsequent.

Households of hostages and their supporters have demanded that the federal government prioritize hostage releases over different conflict goals, and have staged giant protests each weekend, together with Saturday.

Egypt, one of many mediators between Israel and Hamas, has proposed a multistage plan that will kick off with a swap of hostages for prisoners, accompanied by a brief cease-fire — alongside the traces of an alternate throughout a weeklong truce in November.

Hamas insists the conflict should finish earlier than it is going to talk about hostage releases. Osama Hamdan, a senior Hamas official in Beirut, reiterated that place Saturday, but in addition instructed The Related Press that “we now have not given any ultimate reply thus far” to the Egyptian proposal.

Requested about reviews of doable progress towards a deal, Netanyahu mentioned Saturday that “we see a risk, possibly, for motion” however that he didn’t wish to increase “exaggerated expectations.”