Israel Steps Up Attacks in Gaza Amid Cease-Fire Talks

Israel Steps Up Attacks in Gaza Amid Cease-Fire Talks

Intense bombardment of a Gaza Strip metropolis crammed with refugees flattened a big mosque and killed or wounded scores of individuals on Thursday as Israel repeated its intention to push into the world with floor forces if Hamas doesn’t launch hostages earlier than the beginning of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Nearly 100 individuals have been killed throughout the enclave from Israeli strikes over the previous day, the Gazan well being authorities stated Thursday, bringing the entire dying toll after nearly 20 weeks of conflict to just about 30,000.

Around half of the Gaza Strip’s inhabitants of two.3 million persons are crammed into the southern metropolis of Rafah alongside the border with Egypt, the place the strike on the mosque occurred Thursday. Wafa, the Palestinian information company, reported that a minimum of seven Palestinians had been killed in a single day in Rafah and dozens extra wounded.

Israel’s preparations for an invasion of that space come as diplomats raced to forestall it, with Ramadan set to start round March 10.

President Biden’s Middle East coordinator, Brett McGurk met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday for “a superb couple of hours,” specializing in whether or not negotiators might “cement a hostage deal” in keeping with a White House spokesman.

Talks final week in Cairo for a hostage deal failed when Mr. Netanyahu withdrew his negotiators, accusing Hamas of refusing to budge on what he referred to as “ludicrous” calls for and pledging to press on with Israel’s offensive.

But on Wednesday evening, Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s conflict cupboard, stated there had been momentum on a brand new draft of a deal that indicated a “risk to advance.” But he additionally warned that if no deal have been struck, the Israeli army would proceed preventing throughout Ramadan.

One particular person briefed on the talks stated there have been indications that each Hamas and Israel have been keen to barter over an interim deal that would alternate 35 Israeli hostages who’re both medically frail or older for an undetermined variety of Palestinian prisoners.

On Thursday, Israel’s protection minister, Yoav Gallant, stated that the federal government “will broaden the authority given to our hostage negotiators.”

According to Israeli officers, about 130 hostages are nonetheless held in Gaza, although officers imagine that a minimum of 30 of them are dead.

Senior Israeli, Qatari, U.S. and Egyptian officers will meet in Paris on Friday to aim to advance a deal for a cease-fire and the discharge of hostages held by Hamas, an Israeli official and an individual briefed on the talks stated on Thursday. Qatar and Egypt have been appearing as intermediaries between Israel and Hamas, which don’t negotiate straight.

The Mossad chief, David Barnea; the C.I.A. director, William Burns; the Qatari prime minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani; and Abbas Kamel, the top of Egyptian intelligence, are among the many anticipated attendees on the Paris talks, the Israeli official stated, talking on the situation of anonymity to debate the diplomatic developments, as did the particular person briefed on the talks.

On Thursday, Hamas praised a taking pictures close to a checkpoint within the Israeli-occupied West Bank that killed a minimum of one particular person, whom native media recognized as an Israeli man in his 20s, and injured a number of others Thursday morning. Violence within the West Bank has soared because the conflict in Gaza started, underlining the broader challenges of stability and governance throughout the occupied territories.

In Thursday’s taking pictures, three Palestinians used computerized weapons to fireside from a automotive towards a visitors jam in entrance of the A Za’im checkpoint, which ends up in Jerusalem, the Israeli police stated. All three attackers have been killed, Eli Levy, a police spokesman, stated in a video assertion.

The Israeli army stated Thursday that it was preventing Hamas throughout the breadth of the Gaza Strip. Troops “continued to broaden” their offensives in northern Gaza, the army stated. At the identical time, the Israeli navy focused vessels that it stated have been being utilized by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, one other militant group. And within the south, Israeli troops engaged and killed 15 fighters within the metropolis of Khan Younis, the army stated.

In Rafah, the extreme bombardment Thursday heightened fears amongst residents who stated it was the heaviest since 10 days in the past, when Israeli forces performed a raid there to free two hostages and launched a wave of assaults that the well being authorities stated killed dozens of Palestinians.

“It was a really arduous evening,” stated Akram al-Satri, who’s sheltering in Rafah. “They destroyed Al-Farouk mosque, which is likely one of the largest mosques within the space,” he added in a voice message on Thursday. Video printed on Thursday by the Reuters information company exhibits a big pile of particles on the web site of the mosque.

The Israeli army didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon Thursday in regards to the strikes on Rafah. Mr. Netanyahu has described the town as a Hamas stronghold, and says the purpose of Israel’s marketing campaign is to eradicate the militant group.

Since the Rafah raid and Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement of a deliberate floor offensive in Rafah, some individuals there — a lot of whom had already been displaced a number of occasions — started packing up and shifting north.

On Thursday morning, after an evening of worry as drones buzzed and airstrikes boomed, extra displaced households from Rafah started arriving on the Al-Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, a metropolis in central Gaza, stated Beirut Hana, a lawyer who’s sheltering there. They arrange tents in and across the hospital and on empty plots of land, she stated.

“Since the Israeli military introduced their plans for a floor invasion of Rafah, individuals turned scared and began shifting,” Ms. Hana stated in a telephone interview. “Every day since then, giant crowds of individuals have been arriving in Deir al Balah and Nuseirat,” one other metropolis in central Gaza.

Ms. Hana stated that though some individuals have been returning to their properties in Deir al Balah, many others who weren’t from the town had come seeking security. But heavy bombardment has additionally continued in central Gaza, residents stated.

“So many individuals are fleeing Rafah and coming right here considering they’d be safer, solely to get killed right here,” stated Ms. Hana, referring to the central strip.

Aaron Boxerman, Adam Sella Nader Ibrahim and Julian E. Barnes contributed reporting.



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