Hamas battles Israel in Gaza as US says ‘does not back ceasefire at this time’

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GAZA: The United States does not support current calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, the White House said, adding that “pauses” to get aid into Gaza should be considered instead as Palestinian resistance fighters continued to battle Israel’s invading forces early on Tuesday.

“We do not believe that a ceasefire is the right answer right now,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said. “We do not support a ceasefire at this time.”

Gaza health authorities say that 8,306 people, including 3,457 minors, have been killed in Israeli attacks since Oct 7. UN officials say more than 1.4 million of Gaza’s civilian population of about 2.3 million have been made homeless.

Smoke and flames rise during an Israeli air strike on west Gaza. PHOTO: Reuters

Smoke and flames rise during an Israeli air strike on west Gaza. PHOTO: Reuters

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also dismissed calls for a halt to fighting that has deepened the Palestinian enclave’s humanitarian crisis.

Witnesses said Israeli forces targeted Gaza’s main north-south road on Monday and attacked Gaza City from two directions. Israel claimed its troops freed a soldier from Hamas captivity, one of 239 captives who Israel says were captured on October 7.

The al-Qassam brigades, Hamas’ armed wing, said fighters clashed early on Tuesday with Israeli forces “invading the southern Gaza axis, (including) with machine guns, and targeted four vehicles with al-Yassin 105 missiles,” referring to locally produced anti-tank missiles.

The militants also targeted two Israeli tanks and bulldozers in northwest Gaza with the missiles, al-Qassam said.

Netanyahu said late on Monday that Israel would not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas in Gaza and would press ahead with its plans to wipe out the group.

“Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism, to surrender to barbarism. That will not happen,” Netanyahu said in televised remarks.

 

Military specialists said Israeli forces are moving slowly in their ground offensive in part to keep open the possibility that Hamas fighters will negotiate the release of the hostages.

The relative caution with which Israeli troops have taken and secured slices of territory in the first days of sustained ground operations in Gaza stands in contrast to the past three weeks of unrelenting air strikes on the besieged Mediterranean enclave, as well as to Israel’s previous land offensives there.

‘Disaster on top of disaster’

Israel’s military claimed it struck more than 600 Hamas targets in recent days in Gaza, where Palestinian civilians are in dire need of fuel, food and clean water.

The UN Humanitarian Office (OCHA) said that water supply through a pipeline from Israel to southern Gaza was cut off on Monday “for unknown reasons”, and that an announced repair of another pipeline to central Gaza did not take place.

“At the time of writing, no water is provided to Gaza from Israel,” OCHA said on its website.

Significantly fewer humanitarian aid trucks have reached the besieged enclave than are required, UN officials said, and civil order has broken down with people storming UN warehouses in search of food.

“It’s a disaster on top of a disaster. Health needs are soaring and our ability to meet those needs is rapidly declining,” World Health Organization regional emergencies chief Rick Brennan said, reiterating international calls for a ceasefire to enable a larger humanitarian operation.

Aid trucks have been trickling into Gaza from Egypt over the past week via Rafah, the main crossing that does not border Israel. It has become the main point of aid delivery since Israel imposed a “total siege” on Gaza after Oct 7.

The Palestinian resistance group released a video on Monday that showed three hostages. The women – identified by Netanyahu as Yelena Trupanob, Danielle Aloni and Rimon Kirsht – sat side by side against a bare wall, and Aloni addressed an angry message to the prime minister.

Netanyahu condemned the video as “cruel psychological propaganda” and said Israel’s ground campaign created possibilities for rescuing the hostages.

The conflict has led to demonstrations worldwide in support of the Palestinians, and Islamophobic harassment and attacks.

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin accused the West and Ukraine of stirring up unrest inside Russia after rioters in the predominantly Muslim Dagestan region stormed an airport to “catch” Jewish passengers on a flight from Tel Aviv.

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