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Austin heads to Israel as US urges transition to a extra focused strategy in Gaza

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JERUSALEM — Protection Secretary Lloyd Austin was anticipated to press Israel to wind down main fight operations in Gaza on a go to Monday, within the newest take a look at of whether or not the U.S. can leverage its unwavering assist for the offensive to blunt its devastating impression on Palestinian civilians.

France, the U.Ok. and Germany, a few of Israel’s closest allies, joined international requires a cease-fire over the weekend, and Israeli protesters have demanded the federal government relaunch talks with the militant group on releasing extra hostages after three have been mistakenly killed by Israeli troops whereas waving a white flag.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has insisted that Israel will preserve preventing till it removes Hamas from energy, crushes its still-formidable army capabilities and returns the roughly 129 hostages nonetheless held by the group after its Oct. 7 assault, which ignited the warfare.

The U.S. has vetoed worldwide requires a cease-fire and rushed munitions to its shut ally whereas urgent it to take better steps to keep away from harming civilians. The ten-week-old warfare in opposition to Hamas has killed over 18,700 Palestinians and reworked a lot of northern Gaza right into a moonscape.

Some 1.9 million Palestinians — almost 85% of Gaza’s inhabitants — have fled their houses, with most packing into U.N.-run shelters and tent camps within the southern a part of the besieged territory.

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Austin, who’s touring with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. CQ Brown, is predicted to press Israeli leaders to transition to a extra exact section, with focused operations aimed toward killing Hamas leaders, destroying tunnels and rescuing hostages.

Underneath U.S. stress, Israel supplied extra exact evacuation directions as troops moved into the southern metropolis of Khan Younis earlier this month, although Palestinians say nowhere in Gaza is protected as Israel continues to hold out strikes in all components of the territory.

Israel additionally reopened its fundamental cargo crossing with Gaza to permit extra assist into the territory — one other U.S. request. However the quantity coming into continues to be lower than half of prewar imports, at the same time as wants have soared, and U.N. businesses say the preventing within the south hinders supply in lots of areas.

The warfare started with an unprecedented shock assault by Hamas that overwhelmed Israel’s border defenses. Hundreds of militants rampaged throughout southern Israel, killing some 1,200 individuals, principally civilians, and abducting round 240 males, girls and kids.

Hamas and different militants are nonetheless holding an estimated 129 captives after many of the relaxation have been freed in return for Israel’s launch of 240 Palestinian prisoners throughout a truce final month. Hamas has stated no extra hostages might be launched till the warfare ends.

In response to the Oct. 7 assault, Israel launched one of many twenty first century’s deadliest air and floor offensives.

Greater than 18,700 Palestinians have been killed, the Well being Ministry within the Hamas-run territory stated Thursday in its final replace earlier than a communications blackout that solely lifted late Sunday. It says hundreds extra casualties are buried beneath the rubble. The ministry doesn’t differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, however has stated that almost all of these killed have been girls and kids.

Israel’s army says 126 of its troopers have been killed within the Gaza offensive. It says it has killed hundreds of militants, with out offering proof.

Israel blames the civilian deaths on Hamas, saying it makes use of them as human shields when it operates in dense, residential areas. However the army hardly ever feedback on particular person strikes, which steadily kill girls, kids and different civilians.

Heavy preventing round Gaza’s hospitals, that are overflowing with sufferers and displaced individuals, has taken most of them out of service. Israel accuses militants of sheltering in well being amenities and has supplied proof in some {cases}. Well being officers deny the allegations and say the military has recklessly endangered civilians.

The World Well being Group stated it was “appalled” by an Israeli raid on northern Gaza’s Kamal Adwan Hospital over the past a number of days. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated late Sunday that at the very least eight sufferers had died, together with a 9-year-old, and that a number of had fled on foot as a result of ambulances couldn’t attain the ability.

The army stated troops working “within the space of the hospital” had detained dozens of suspected militants, a few of whom had taken half within the Oct. 7 assault, and had seized “quite a few” weapons and army tactical tools. It stated the hospital had been used as a command heart by Hamas, with out offering proof.

The same standoff unfolded final month at Shifa Hospital in Gaza Metropolis — the territory’s largest — the place tons of of sufferers and tens of hundreds of displaced individuals have been stranded for days with little meals, water or medical provides. Israel stated Hamas hid a significant command heart contained in the hospital, and revealed what seemed to be a militant tunnel beneath the ability earlier than withdrawing days later.

The WHO, which is working to revive providers at Shifa and was in a position to go to on Friday, described its emergency division as a “massacre,” with tons of of wounded sufferers, some being sutured on the ground with little or no ache drugs. It stated tens of hundreds of individuals are sheltering within the medical compound regardless of extreme shortages of meals and water.

Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah have traded fireplace alongside the border almost every single day for the reason that warfare started, and different Iran-backed militant teams have attacked U.S. targets in Syria and Iraq. Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels have attacked ships within the Crimson Sea with missiles and drones, portraying it as a blockade of Israel.

Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli army spokesman, warned that Hezbollah was “dragging Lebanon into an pointless warfare that will have devastating penalties.” The perimeters fought a devastating monthlong warfare in 2006.

Almost 300 Palestinians have been killed within the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution for the reason that begin of the warfare, and this has been the deadliest 12 months for Palestinians there since 2005. Most have been killed throughout Israeli army raids, which regularly ignite gunbattles, or throughout violent demonstrations.

U.S. protection leaders are hoping to forestall the danger of wider regional battle, each by way of a sustained excessive degree of U.S. army presence and by urging Israel to reduce operations. President Joe Biden has warned that Israel is dropping worldwide assist due to its “indiscriminate bombing.”

Israeli Protection Minister Yoav Gallant stated final week that his nation would proceed main fight operations in opposition to Hamas for a number of extra months.


Magdy reported from Cairo.


Discover extra of AP’s protection at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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