Israeli military tanks deployed in southern Israel bordering the Gaza Strip on December 22, 2023.
Jack Ghez | AFP | Getty Images
Israel fought to wrest full control of northern Gaza from Hamas militants as U.S. and Israeli leaders discussed the prospect of an 11-week war after the U.N. Security Council appealed for more aid to the Palestinian enclave. .
Thick smoke blanketed the northern town of Jabalia on Saturday, with residents reporting persistent airstrikes and artillery fire from Israeli tanks, which they said had moved deep into the town.
US President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the “objectives and phases” of Israel’s military operations, the need to protect civilian lives and ensuring the release of Palestinian hostages, the White House said. Ta.
“Israel has made it clear that it will wage war until all its objectives are fully achieved,” Prime Minister Netanyahu announced.
Israel’s main allies maintain their support, even as they express concern about the rising casualties and humanitarian crisis in the densely populated Gaza Strip.
U.S. officials said they expected Israel to soon move into a low-intensity phase of the operation targeting Hamas leadership and its infrastructure.
Biden told reporters he was “not asking for a ceasefire,” but Netanyahu’s office said he thanked Biden for the U.S. position on the U.N. Security Council. .
After days of wrangling, the Security Council on Friday removed a call for an immediate end to the war from a draft resolution, weakening Israel’s control over aid, averting a threat of a U.S. veto. The United States and Israel oppose the cease-fire, saying it would allow Hamas, backed by Iran, to regroup and rearm.
The US government abstained from a final statement calling for measures to enable “secure, unimpeded and expanded humanitarian access” to Gaza and “conditions for a sustainable cessation” of fighting.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Saturday that the death toll among Palestinians had reached 20,258, with thousands more bodies buried under rubble.
Almost all of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been forced to flee.
Israel announced Sunday that 154 soldiers have been killed since the militants launched a ground invasion in response to the Oct. 7 invasion of Israel by Hamas, where militants killed 1,200 people and took 240 hostages.
Israel has achieved almost complete operational control of northern Gaza and is preparing to expand its ground offensive into other parts of the Strip, with a focus on the south, the military’s chief spokesman said.
“For the sake of all our fallen soldiers, we will move forward. Until Hamas is eliminated, until the hostages are returned,” Energy Minister Israel Katz, a member of the Security Cabinet, posted on X.
Israel has long called on residents to leave the northern Gaza region, but Israeli forces have been shelling targets in the center and south of the small coastal enclave.
“They are calling on people to go to Deir al-Balah (in central Gaza), where they are bombing day and night,” Ziad, a doctor and father of six, told Reuters by phone. told.
“International law has collapsed,” said Ramsey Eidi, a Gaza resident and PhD in law. “If Israel were in the position of the Palestinians, the world would not remain silent and would act.”
Hamas’ al-Qassam Brigades said on Saturday that they had destroyed five Israeli tanks near Jabalia, killing and wounding their crews, after recycling two unexploded missiles fired by Israel. Reuters could not independently verify the report.
The Israel Defense Forces said it had carried out decoy firing in Gaza City’s Issa district, luring dozens of militants from a building that had been Hamas’s headquarters in the enclave’s north, and “eliminated the terrorists.”
The military has released a video it says shows Hamas tunnels in the Issa region. Reuters could not independently confirm the location or date. Israel has accused the militant group of installing tunnels and other military infrastructure between civilians and using them as human shields, a charge Hamas denies.
Hamas has announced that it has lost contact with the group accused of killing five Israeli hostages in Israeli shelling. An Israeli military spokesperson described the statement as “spiritual terrorism” by Hamas.
The conflict is escalating as Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthis disrupt global trade with missile and drone attacks on ships in the Red Sea in retaliation for Israel’s attack on Gaza.
The United States shot down four drones fired at a U.S. destroyer from Yemen’s Houthi-held territory in the southern Red Sea on Saturday, bringing the number of similar attacks on commercial vessels to 15, U.S. Central Command said. .
A drone launched from Iran collided with a chemical tanker in the Indian Ocean on Saturday, the Pentagon said.
According to Iranian media, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said the Mediterranean Sea could be shut down if the US and its allies continue to commit “crimes” in Gaza, without giving details.