Israeli Strikes Kill 13 in Gaza as Biden Criticizes Military Response | World News

Feb 9, 2024

Rafah: At least 13 people killed in Rafah in Israeli air strikes Gaza The strip after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas' ceasefire terms and vowed to expand the offensive into southern Gaza City.
President Joe Biden called on Israel military response “at the top” in Gaza and said he continues to work “tirelessly” to pressure Israel and Hamas to agree to an extended pause in the fighting.
“As you know, my view is that the conduct of the response in the Gaza Strip has been top-notch,” Biden told reporters Thursday evening after commenting on a special counsel report on the handling of classified matters. document.
More than half the Gaza Strip's population has fled to Rafah, a city located on the mostly sealed border with Egypt that is also the main entry point for humanitarian aid. Egypt has warned that any ground action there or mass displacement across the border would undermine its 40-year-old peace treaty with Israel.
strikes At least 13 people were killed, including two women and five children, according to the Kuwaiti hospital that received the bodies. At the site of one attack, residents used their cellphone flashlights and dug through debris with axes with their bare hands.
“I wish we could have collected the whole bodies instead of their pieces,” said neighbor Mohammed Abu Habib, who witnessed the attack.
Israel's 4-month-long air and ground offensive – the most devastating in recent history – has killed more than 27,000 Palestinians, driven most from their homes and driven a quarter of the population to starvation.
Netanyahu has said the offensive will continue and expand until there is a “complete victory” over Hamas, which started the war on October 7 with a sweeping attack across southern Israel in which the militants killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians. , and killed about 250. mortgage.
Biden has pushed for an extended pause in the fighting to facilitate the release of the remaining hostages, after an earlier brief pause allowed the release of mostly women and children. More than 100 are still held captive and Israel has vowed to bring them back.
However, Hamas has demanded that Israel release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners under the hostage agreement and end the war. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused to agree to those terms.
Biden said he is still hopeful that an agreement can be reached that could pave the way to end the war.
“I am working very hard now to deal with this hostage ceasefire,” Biden said. “I am working tirelessly on this deal.”
Israel's goals appear increasingly elusive, as Hamas reemerges in parts of northern Gaza, which was the first target of the offensive and which has seen widespread destruction. Israel has rescued only one hostage, while Hamas says several have been killed in airstrikes or failed rescue missions.
Netanyahu said preparations were underway to expand the offensive into Rafah, where thousands of people fleeing other areas are being housed in illegal tent camps and UN-run shelters.
The Palestinian death toll in the four-month war has already reached 27,840, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory. The ministry does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its figures but says most of the dead were women and children.
International aid organizations have warned that any major operation in Rafah would worsen the already humanitarian catastrophe.
“If they are not killed in the fighting, Palestinian children, women and men will be at risk of dying from starvation or disease.” said Bob Kitchen of the International Rescue Committee. “There will no longer be a single 'safe' zone for Palestinians.”
Outside the hospital, where the bodies were brought after an overnight strike, relatives were crying as they bid farewell to their loved ones. Warda Abu Warda said she felt helpless.
“Where do we go after Rafa? “Should we go to the sea?” He asked.
The United States, Qatar and Egypt are trying to broker another ceasefire agreement to secure the release of the remaining hostages. But Hamas has demanded an end to the war, Israel's full withdrawal from Gaza and the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including high-profile militants.
Netanyahu on Tuesday rejected those demands as “illusory” and said Israel would never agree to any deal that would leave Hamas in partial or full control of the territory it has ruled since 2007.
But visiting Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a deal was still possible and talks would continue, the latest sign of a growing divide between the two close allies over a path forward. A Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo on Thursday for more talks.
Netanyahu is under increasing pressure from the hostages' families and the broader public to return them home, even if that requires a deal with Hamas. At least one senior Israeli official has acknowledged that rescuing detainees and destroying Hamas may be incompatible.
Hamas still holds more than 130 hostages, but about 30 of them are believed dead, most of whom died on 7 October. The group is widely believed to be holding detainees in underground tunnels and using them as human shields. Its top leaders.

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