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Israel is attacking Gaza


RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday ignored growing calls to end the military offensive in Gaza and vowed to “finish the job” after a member of his War Cabinet threatened to invade the southern city of Rafah if Israeli hostages remain. They are not released until the holy month of Ramadan.

The Israeli government has not publicly discussed the timeline for a ground offensive on Rafah, where more than half of the region’s 2.3 million Palestinians have taken refuge. Retired general Benny Gantz, part of Netanyahu’s three-member War Cabinet, represents an influential voice but does not have the final say on what may happen next.

“If our hostages are not home by Ramadan, the fighting will continue in the Rafah region,” Gantz said at a conference attended by Jewish American leaders. Ramadan, which is expected to start on March 10, is a historically tense period in the region.

As ceasefire negotiations have struggled after signs of progress in recent weeks, Netanyahu has described demands from Gaza’s ruling Hamas as “delusional”.

The United States, Israel’s biggest ally, says it still hopes to broker a cease-fire and hostage-free deal and envisions a broader resolution to the war sparked by Hamas’s deadly Oct. 7 attack on southern Israel.

The US also said it would veto another draft UN resolution calling for a ceasefire, with its UN ambassador warning against measures that could jeopardize “the opportunity for a durable solution to hostilities”.

But Netanyahu opposes a Palestinian state, which the United States calls a key element in a broader vision for the normalization of relations between Israel and regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia. His cabinet adopted a statement on Sunday saying Israel “categorically rejects international edicts regarding a permanent agreement with the Palestinians” and opposes unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

The international community overwhelmingly supports an independent Palestinian state as part of a future peace agreement. Netanyahu’s government is full of hardliners who oppose Palestinian independence.

Netanyahu wants Israel to achieve “complete victory” against Hamas. He said Palestinian civilians would be evacuated in response to international concerns about the Rafah attack. It is unclear where they will go in largely devastated Gaza.

The suggested timing for the attack came as the head of the World Health Organization said Nasser Hospital, the main medical center in southern Gaza, was “no longer functional” after Israeli forces raided Khan Younis last week.

Israeli attacks on Gaza continued until Sunday, killing at least 18 people, according to medics and eyewitnesses. Six people, including one woman and three children, died in the attack in Rafah, while five people died in Khan Younis, the main target of the Gaza attack in the south in recent weeks. Associated Press journalists saw the bodies.

“All of the martyrs were people whom the Jews wanted to move to safe places,” said Ahmad Abu Rezeq, one of those who watched the Rafah attack.

In Gaza City, which suffered widespread destruction early in the war, an airstrike destroyed a house and killed seven people, including three women, according to relative Sayed al-Afifi.

The Israeli military rarely comments on individual attacks and blames Hamas for civilian casualties because it operates in densely populated areas.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the WHO team was not allowed to enter Nasser Hospital on Friday or Saturday. In a post on

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said at least 200 fighters surrendered at the hospital. He also claimed that Hamas was defeated in Khan Younis and that Hamas in Gaza was largely leaderless. He provided no evidence to support the allegations.

Gaza Ministry of Health said that 70 medical personnel, along with patients, were among those arrested, and 150 patients were deprived of medical care. He said Israel did not allow the evacuation of patients, including newborns, to other hospitals.

The army said it was searching for the remains of the hostages at Nasser Hospital and did not target doctors or patients.

In the attack on October 7, approximately 1,200 people, most of them civilians, died and nearly 250 people were taken hostage. Hamas still holds around 130 hostages, a quarter of whom are believed to be dead. Most of the others were released during a week-long ceasefire in November.

At least 28,985 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed in the war, according to the Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. It was stated that 127 bodies were brought to hospitals in the last 24 hours on Sunday.

Nearly 80 percent of Gaza’s population has been displaced and a quarter faces starvation. Palestinian Transitional Authority spokesman Wael Abu Omar said that 123 aid trucks entered Gaza through Israel’s Kerem Shalom border crossing on Sunday, and four trucks of cooking gas entered through the Rafah crossing with Egypt. This is well below the 500 trucks that entered each day before the war.

In the occupied West Bank, clashes broke out when Israeli forces went to arrest an armed suspect in the town of Tulkarem. The military said the suspect was killed and a member of the Israeli paramilitary Border Police was also seriously injured. It was stated that the target of the raid was a senior warrior. The Palestinian Ministry of Health announced that two Palestinians were killed.

The war in Gaza threatened to trigger larger conflicts in the region. U.S. Central Command said it conducted five self-defense strikes against cruise missiles and drones on Saturday in the Yemeni region controlled by the Iran-backed Houthi rebel group.

USA IS OPPOSED TO THE NEW ceasefire decision
Algeria, the Arab representative on the UN Security Council, has issued a draft resolution demanding an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza and rejecting the forced displacement of Palestinians.

US Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the draft “will not be accepted” and runs counter to Washington’s efforts to end the war. The United States had vetoed previous resolutions that had broad international support.

The United States, Qatar and Egypt have tried for weeks to mediate a ceasefire and the release of the hostages, but Qatar said on Saturday that talks were “not progressing as expected.”

Hamas said it would not release all remaining hostages until Israel ends the war and withdraws from Gaza. They are also demanding the release of hundreds of Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, including senior fighters.

Melanie Lidman reported from Jerusalem and Kareem Chehayeb reported from Beirut.


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