International efforts to defuse the largest military confrontation between Israel and Palestinian militants in seven years intensified ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on Sunday after another night of fighting.
The Security Council, chaired by China, is due to meet in New York on Sunday.
The UN, Egypt and Qatar were negotiating a short ceasefire to bring fuel from Gaza’s only power plant to the Mediterranean enclave, blocked by Israel since 2007, two Western diplomats told the Financial Times . The Gaza Strip, home to 2 million people, will run out of fuel by Monday at the latest, an Israeli official said.
The Israeli security cabinet is also due to meet on Sunday to discuss Hamas’s offer of a long-term truce, an Israeli government aide told FT. The army wants the Palestinian group to return the bodies of two soldiers. The fate of two Israeli civilians detained in Gaza is also at stake, the aide said.
Meanwhile, the shelling continued unabated for a seventh day. The IDF said it hit the homes of Hamas leader Yahyeh Sinwar and his brother. Sinwar was released from an Israeli prison in 2011 during a prisoner exchange and has since risen to the top of Hamas’s leadership. An Israeli official described him as “the greatest threat”.
Hamas fired rockets at Tel Aviv around midnight on Saturday and at towns near the Gaza Strip on Sunday morning.
The death toll in Gaza has risen to 174 people, including 76 women and children, health officials in Gaza have said.
Israel has reported 10 dead, including two children, local doctors said.
“We are still in the middle of this operation, it is still not finished and this operation will continue as long as necessary”, declared Saturday evening the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu defended the largest military campaign against Hamas since Israel’s war against the Islamist group in 2014 as a “just and moral war.” He added: “We are doing everything, but everything, to avoid or limit civilians as much as possible.”
His comments came after Israel destroyed the al-Jalaa residential and office block that housed the US Associated Press news agency and Qatari Al Jazeera TV station. The attack raised “concerns about the safety and security of journalists” and “reinforced the need for their protection,” US President Joe Biden told Netanyahu on Saturday in a phone call, according to the report. White House.
“In recent years… UN Security Council resolutions have not been seriously implemented and, in particular, the right of Palestinians to build an independent state has been continuously violated,” said Wang Yi, Chinese Foreign Minister, quoted by Chinese media.
In the occupied West Bank, which was relatively quiet until Israeli security forces killed 11 Palestinians on Friday, Arab protesters burned tires and threw Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers during the nightly protests. The territory Israel has occupied since the 1967 war is the headquarters of Fatah, the rival Palestinian faction of Hamas, and is home to some 650,000 Jewish settlers, at least 200,000 of them in East Jerusalem.
Israel is also seeking to quell riots between Jews and Arabs across the country, arresting nearly 900 people.
Israeli Arabs make up about a fifth of the Jewish state’s population, carry Israeli passports and vote in the country’s elections. But they say they suffer from discrimination and are a target for right-wing Israeli politicians.
The crisis erupted after weeks of tension in and around Jerusalem when police used rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades against Palestinian protesters inside the compound of al-Aqsa Mosque, the third largest site. most sacred of Islam. More than 600 Palestinians have been injured.
The al-Aqsa Mosque is located in a complex – known to Muslims as Haram ash-Sharif, or Noble Shrine, and to Jews as the Temple Mount – which is sacred to both religions.
Hamas entered the fray on Monday, firing rockets at Israel and demanding that Jewish settlers in Israel-occupied East Jerusalem stop harassing Arab residents who were awaiting eviction orders from Israeli courts.
Additional reporting by Katrina Manson in Washington and Primrose Riordan in Hong Kong