Strikes kill 13 in Gaza as President Joe Biden describes Israel’s military response as ‘over the top’ : The Tribune India

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Strikes kill 13 in Gaza as President Joe Biden describes Israel’s military response as ‘over the top’

Biden continues to work ‘tirelessly’ to press Israel and Hamas to agree on an extended pause in fighting

Strikes kill 13 in Gaza as President Joe Biden describes Israel’s military response as ‘over the top’

Kariem, 2, a Palestinian boy who was evacuated from Gaza amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, shakes hands with an Italian military doctor at the Italian hospital Umberto I of Cairo during preparations for wounded Palestinians to be transported to Rome early on Friday, in Cairo, Egypt, on Thursday. Reuters Photo



AP

Rafah (Gaza Strip), February 9

Israeli airstrikes killed at least 13 people in Rafah in the Gaza Strip after PM Benjamin Netanyahu rejected Hamas’ cease-fire terms and vowed to expand the offensive into the southern Gaza town.

President Joe Biden called Israel’s military response in Gaza “over the top” and said he continues to work “tirelessly” to press Israel and Hamas to agree on an extended pause in fighting.

“I am of the view, as you know, that the conduct of the response in the Gaza Strip has been over the top,” Biden told reporters in an exchange on Thursday evening after delivering remarks on a special counsel report on his handling of classified documents.

Biden has been under political pressure to mend any rifts with voters he might need, especially in the Arab American community, where he has faced increased backlash for his vocal support of Israel’s war in Gaza. On Thursday, he sent emissaries to a suburb of Detroit, where the nation’s largest concentration of Arab Americans resides.

More than half of the Gaza Strip’s population has fled to Rafah, a city on the mostly sealed border with Egypt that is also the main entry point for humanitarian aid. Egypt has warned that any ground operation there or mass displacement across the border would undermine its 40-year-old peace treaty with Israel.

The strikes killed at least 13 people, including two women and five children, according to the Kuwaiti Hospital, which received the bodies. At the scene of one of the strikes, residents used their mobile phone flashlights as they dug through the rubble with pick-axes and their bare hands.

“I wish we could collect their whole bodies instead of just pieces,” said Mohammed Abu Habib, a neighbour who witnessed the strike.

Israel’s 4-month-old air and ground offensive - among the most destructive in recent history - has killed over 27,000 Palestinians, driven most people from their homes and pushed a quarter of the population toward starvation.

PM Netanyahu has said the offensive would continue and expand until “total victory” over Hamas, which started the war by launching a wide-ranging attack into southern Israel on October 7 in which militants killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and took around 250 hostages.

Biden has pushed for an extended pause in the fighting to facilitate the release of the remaining hostages after brief pauses earlier that had allowed for the release of mostly women and children. More than 100 are still captive and Israel has vowed to bring them back.

However, Hamas has demanded that Israel release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners and end the war as part of a hostage deal. PM Netanyahu has refused to agree to those terms.

Biden said he still is hopeful that a deal can be worked out that might create a path to ending the war.

“I am pushing very hard now to deal with this hostage cease-fire,” Biden said. “I’ve been 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 has seen widespread destruction. Israel has only rescued one hostage, while Hamas says several have been killed in airstrikes or failed rescue missions.

Alarm grows as Israel eyes Rafah

PM Netanyahu said preparations were underway to expand the offensive into Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of people who fled from other areas are crowded into squalid tent camps and overflowing UN-run shelters.

The Palestinian death toll from four months of 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.

#Benjamin Netanyahu #Gaza #Gaza strip #Hamas #Israel #Joe Biden #United States of America USA


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