Israel Launches Deadly Strikes on Gaza, Says Ready for Truce Talks with Hamas

Thu May 23 2024
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GAZA: Israel launched devastating air strikes on Gaza early on Thursday while also saying it is ready to resume stalled talks on a truce and hostage release deal with Hamas to pause the relentless bombardment campaign since October 7 in the besieged Palestinian territory.

According to reports from Gaza’s civil defense agency, two pre-dawn air strikes killed 26 Palestinians, including 15 children, in Gaza City alone. One strike targeted a family home in the Al-Daraj area, killing 16 persons, while another struck a mosque compound, killing 10 more persons.

Israel Launches Deadly Strikes on Gaza Says Ready for Truce Talks with Hamas 1

Amidst the airstrikes, Israel also launched fierce ground operations in Gaza’s Jabalia and Rafah. The mounting casualties and destruction underscore the urgent need for a ceasefire, as international pressure mounts on Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to end the violence.

European countries have signaled their intention to recognize a Palestinian state, adding to the diplomatic pressure on Israel. The International Criminal Court’s pursuit of war crimes charges against Netanyahu and Hamas leaders further complicates the situation. The week started with the International Criminal Court’s prosecutor seeking arrest warrants on war crimes charges against Netanyahu and his defence minister as well as three Hamas leaders.

Israel has angrily rejected those moves, voicing “disgust” over the ICC request and labelling any recognition of Palestinian statehood a “reward for terrorism”.

Meanwhile, Israel vows to continue its offensive operations while simultaneously expressing willingness to engage in negotiations for a ceasefire and hostage release. However, previous truce talks have faltered.

Netanyahu’s office said that the war cabinet had asked the Israeli negotiating team “to continue negotiations for the return of the hostages”.

The previous round of truce talks, involving US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators, ended shortly after Israel launched its attack on Gaza’s far-southern city of Rafah early this month.

Israel went ahead with the assault on the last city in Gaza to be entered by its ground troops in defiance of global opposition, including from top ally the United States.

Washington voiced concerns that about 1.4 million Palestinians who had been trapped in the city would be caught in the line of fire.

Israel has since ordered mass evacuations from the city, and the UN says more than 800,000 people have fled.

US President Joe Biden’s national security advisor, Jake Sullivan, said the Rafah operation “has been more targeted and limited” than feared and “has not involved major military operations into the heart of dense urban areas”.

Israel Launches Deadly Strikes on Gaza, Says Ready for Truce Talks with Hamas

But he stopped short of saying that Israel had addressed US concerns, adding that Washington was closely watching ongoing Israeli actions.

Israel’s national security advisor Tzachi Hanegbi has meanwhile given a bleak assessment of the war to a meeting of parliament’s foreign affairs and defence committee, according to a report by Israel’s Channel 13.

He said that Israel has “not achieved any of the strategic aims of the war -– not conditions for a hostage deal; and we haven’t allowed residents of the (Gaza) periphery to safely return home”.

Since October 7 last year, Israel has launched a relentless bombardment campaign that has killed at least 35,800 Palestinians in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.

Heavy bombardment raged again in Gaza. Urban combat has also flared again in northern areas, including Jabalia, which Israeli forces first entered several months ago.

Israel has also imposed a siege that has deprived Gaza’s 2.4 million people of most clean water, food, medicines and fuel.

Israel has faced ever greater opposition to the bloody war from around the world, and pro-Palestinian protests have swept university campuses.

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