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Israel rebuffs ceasefire calls despite more international community pressure

Israel rebuffs ceasefire calls despite more international community pressure

Israel was already coming under sustained pressure by Monday to avoid further civilian casualties during its assault on Gaza.

The pressure was mounting after Israel rebuffed calls for a ceasefire.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due to meet with Turkey’s foreign minister in Ankara on Monday, hours after hundreds of people at a pro-Palestinian protest tried to storm an air base that houses U.S. troops in southern Turkey.

Blinken on Sunday made an unannounced visit to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who joined international calls for an immediate ceasefire.

But after Blinken repeated U.S. concerns that a ceasefire could aid Hamas, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled that out unless hostages held by Hamas were released.

“There will be no ceasefire without the return of the hostages. This should be completely removed from the lexicon,” Netanyahu said.

Israel’s military said on Sunday it had surrounded the Gaza City. Palestinian news agency WAFA had reported “unprecedented bombardment” from Israel, while telecoms provider Paltel reported another cutoff of communications and internet services.

A spokesman for Israel’s military told CNN late on Sunday that bombardments in northern Gaza were halted for several hours for two days in a row to allow civilians safe passage to move to the south of the narrow coastal strip.

“Not only are we telling them where to go, but we’re also helping and creating much better humanitarian conditions in the south,” Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said, without indicating whether such pauses would continue.

Conricus said there was access to water and humanitarian goods in the south of Gaza, but Hamas was impeding convoys by firing on them. Reuters could not immediately verify his account.

Increased ceasefire calls

Foreign ministers from Qatar, Saudi, Egypt, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates met Blinken in Amman on Saturday and also urged him to persuade Israel to agree to a ceasefire. Blinken also visited Iraq on Sunday and held talks with Prime Minister Mohammed al-Sudani.

Pope Francis joined calls for peace. “Stop in the name of God,” he said, calling for humanitarian aid and help for the injured to ease the “very grave” situation in Gaza.

But Blinken said a ceasefire would benefit Hamas, allowing it to regroup and attack again. Instead, the U.S. wants localized pauses in fighting to allow in humanitarian aid and for people to leave Gaza.

 

 

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