Israel, Hamas dig in as pressure builds for ceasefire


AP :
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday blasted a United Nations Security Council resolution calling for a Gaza cease-fire that his country’s top ally, the United States, chose not to block. He said the resolution had emboldened Hamas and he vowed to press ahead with the war.

As the war grinds through a sixth month, both Israel and Hamas have rejected cease-fire efforts, each insisting its version of victory is within reach. The passage of the U.N. resolution has also escalated tensions between the U.S. and Israel over the conduct of the war.

Netanyahu has said Israel can only achieve its aims of dismantling Hamas and returning scores of hostages if it expands its ground offensive to the southern city of Rafah, where over half of Gaza’s population has sought refuge, many in crowded tent camps.

The U.S. has said a major assault on Rafah would be a mistake.

Hamas says it will hold onto the hostages until Israel agrees to a more permanent cease-fire, withdraws its forces from Gaza and releases hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, including top militants.

It said late Monday that it rejected a recent proposal that fell short of those demands – which, if fulfilled, would allow it to claim an extremely costly victory.

Netanyahu said in a statement that the announcement “proved clearly that Hamas is not interested in continuing negotiations toward a deal and served as unfortunate testimony to the damage of the Security Council decision.”

“Israel will not surrender to Hamas’ delusional demands and will continue to act to achieve all the goals of the war: releasing all the hostages, destroying Hamas’ military and governing capabilities and ensuring that Gaza will never again be a threat to Israel.”


Israel has killed over 32,000 Palestinians, around two-thirds of them women and children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its tally.

The fighting has left much of the Gaza Strip in ruins, displaced most its residents and driven a third of its population of 2.3 million to the brink of famine.

The Israeli military announced Tuesday that an airstrike earlier this month killed Marwan Issa, the deputy leader of Hamas’ armed wing in Gaza who helped plan the Oct. 7 attack.

Issa is the highest-ranking Hamas leader to have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war. Military spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Issa was killed when fighter jets struck an underground compound in central Gaza between March 9 and 10.

An Israeli strike late Monday on a residential building in Rafah where three displaced families were sheltering killed at least 16 people, including nine children and four women, according to hospital records and relatives of the deceased.

An Associated Press reporter saw the bodies arrive at a hospital.

In the face of Hamas’ demands for a more permanent cease-fire, Netanyahu has vowed to resume Israel’s offensive after any hostage release and keep fighting until the militant group is destroyed. But he has provided few details about what would follow any such victory and has largely rejected a postwar vision outlined by the U.S.

That approach has brought him into increasingly open conflict with President Joe Biden’s administration, which has expressed mounting concern over civilian casualties – though it has continued to supply Israel with crucial military aid and back Israel’s aim of destroying Hamas.