Israel airstrikes kills nearly 100 Palestinians, Biden calls Netanyahu but doesn’t ask for ceasefire

Image Source : AP Israel strikes two homes in Gaza

Israel-Hamas war: More than 90 Palestinians, including dozens from an extended family, were killed in Israeli airstrikes on two homes in Gaza, rescuers and hospital officials said Saturday, a day after the UN chief warned that nowhere is safe in the territory and that Israel’s offensive creates “massive obstacles” to the distribution of humanitarian aid.

Biden calls Netanyahu

US President Joe Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday, calling it a long and private conversation a day after the Biden administration again shielded Israel in the diplomatic arena. On Friday, the UN Security Council adopted a watered-down resolution that calls for immediately speeding up aid deliveries to desperate civilians in Gaza, but not for a cease-fire.

“I did not ask for a cease-fire,” Biden said of the call. Netanyahu’s office said the prime minister “made clear that Israel would continue the war until achieving all its goals.”

Also Saturday, the Israeli military said troops arrested hundreds of alleged militants in Gaza over the past week and transferred more than 200 to Israel for further interrogation, providing rare details on a controversial policy of mass roundups of Palestinian men. The army said more than 700 people with alleged ties to the militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have so far been sent to Israeli lockups.

Over 20,000 Palestinians killed 

Israel declared war after Hamas gunmen stormed across the border on October 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking some 240 hostages. More than 20,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s war to destroy Hamas and more than 53,000 have been wounded, according to health officials in Gaza, a besieged territory ruled by the Islamic militant group for the past 16 years.

The Health Ministry in Gaza on Saturday evening said 201 people had been killed over the past 24 hours. Airstrikes on Friday flattened two homes, including one in Gaza City, where 76 people from the al-Mughrabi family were killed, making the attack one of the deadliest of the war, said Mahmoud Bassal, a spokesman for Gaza’s Civil Defense department.

Among those killed were Issam al-Mughrabi, a veteran employee of the UN Development Program, his wife, and their five children. “The UN and civilians in Gaza are not a target,” said Achim Steiner, the head of the agency. “This war must end.” And a strike pulverized the home of Mohammed Khalifa, a local TV journalist, killing him and at least 14 others in the urban refugee camp of Nuseirat, according to officials at the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Hospital where the bodies were taken.

Israel blames Hamas for the high civilian death toll, citing the militants’ use of crowded residential areas and tunnels. Israel has launched thousands of airstrikes since October 7, and has largely refrained from commenting on specific attacks.

(With inputs from agency)

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