Netanyahu Refuses Gaza Ceasefire; 19 Killed In Israeli Strikes

Israel carried out intense airstrikes on the city of Rafah in southern Gaza on Sunday, killing at least 19 Palestinians, after Hamas claimed responsibility for a deadly rocket attack on the Kerem Shalom border crossing that killed three Israeli soldiers.

The attacks come as the latest round of ceasefire talks in Cairo between Hamas and Israeli officials broke down without a deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu firmly rejected Hamas’ demands for an Israeli troop withdrawal from Gaza and an end to the 10-month conflict, calling them “unacceptable.”

“No amount of pressure, no decision by any international forum, will stop Israel from defending itself,” Netanyahu stated defiantly. “If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.”

He warned that Israel would not accept “a situation in which the Hamas brigades come out of their bunkers, retake control of Gaza, rebuild their military infrastructure, and return to threatening the citizens of Israel.”

The Israeli military said ten projectiles were fired from Rafah toward the Kerem Shalom crossing, a key entry point for humanitarian aid into Gaza, forcing its closure to aid trucks. According to Gaza’s health ministry, the retaliatory Israeli strikes hit two homes in Rafah, killing 19 civilians, including four children from one family.

Despite multiple warnings from US officials, Netanyahu has pledged an intensified military offensive targeting Rafah, Hamas’ last remaining stronghold in Gaza, if the militant group does not agree to Israel’s ceasefire terms within a week.

“We are headed toward a powerful operation very shortly in Rafah and other places across all of Gaza,” warned Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, accusing Hamas of not being serious about making a deal.

The breakdown in negotiations and escalating violence compounds an already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The head of the UN’s World Food Program recently warned of a “full-blown famine” taking hold in northern Gaza due to the prolonged conflict.

Since the latest Israel-Hamas war erupted in October 2023, at least 34,683 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza and over 77,900 injured, according to Gaza’s health ministry. In Israel, the death toll stands at around 1,200. Of the 252 Israelis captured by Hamas, 128 are still missing, and at least 34 are presumed dead by Israel.

As the diplomacy stalls and bloodshed intensifies, hopes for a resolution to end the cyclical devastating violence between the bitter rivals are rapidly fading. Both sides appear entrenched, leaving innocent civilians in Gaza trapped in the deadly crossfire.

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