Airstrikes hit refugee camps in Gaza as U.S. approves new weapons sales to Israel

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, on Friday. DEIR AL-BALAH, Gaza Strip — Israeli warplanes struck two urban refugee camps in central Gaza on Saturday, as the Biden administration approved a new emergency weapons sale to Israel despite persistent international cease-fire calls over mounting civilian deaths, hunger and mass displacement in the enclave. Even a brief halt in fighting seems out of reach. A senior Hamas official told The Associated Press in Beirut on Saturday that the group has not budged from its position that a permanent cease-fire has to be the starting point for any further releases of Israeli and foreign hostages the group holds, which runs counter to a recent proposal by Egypt for a staged end to the war. It’s a demand Israel is bound to reject. Israel has said it will pursue its unprecedented air and ground offensive until it has dismantled Hamas, a goal viewed by some as unattainable because of the militant group’s deep roots in Palestinian society. The United States has shielded Israel diplomatically and has continued to supply weapons. Israel argues that ending the war now would mean victory for Hamas, a stance shared by the Biden administration which at the same time urged Israel to do more to avoid harm to Palestinian civilians. The war, triggered by the deadly Oct. 7 Hamas attack on southern Israel , has displaced some 85% of the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million residents, sending swells of people seeking shelter in Israeli-designated safe areas that the military has nevertheless also bombed. That has left Palestinians with a harrowing sense that nowhere is safe in the tiny enclave. The Health Ministry in Gaza said Saturday that the Palestinian death toll since the start of the war rose to 21,672, […]

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