Palestinians gather at the site of Israeli air strikes in Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, on May 20, 2021. (Photo: MOHAMMED ABED, AFP via Getty Images)
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel unleashed a wave of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip early Thursday, killing at least one Palestinian and wounding several others. The latest strikes came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pushed back against U.S. pressure to wind down the offensive against Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers, who have fired thousands of rockets at Israel.
Explosions shook Gaza City and orange flares lit up the night sky, with airstrikes also reported in the central town of Deir al-Balah and the southern town of Khan Younis. As the sun rose, residents surveyed the rubble from at least five family homes destroyed in Khan Younis. There were also heavy airstrikes on al-Saftawi Street, a commercial thoroughfare in Gaza City.
The Israeli military said it struck at least four homes of Hamas commanders, targeting “military infrastructure,” as well as a weapons storage unit at the home of a Hamas fighter in Gaza City.
An Israeli airstrike smashed into the Khawaldi family’s two-story house in Khan Younis, destroying it. The 11 residents, who were sleeping in a separate area out of fear, were all wounded and hospitalized, said Shaker al-Khozondar, a neighbor.
Shrapnel hit his family home next door, killing Hoda al-Khozondar, his aunt, and wounding her daughter and two cousins, he said. Weam Fares, a spokesman for a nearby hospital, confirmed her death and said at least 10 people were wounded in strikes overnight.
Netanyahu has pushed back against calls from the Biden administration to wrap up the operation that has left hundreds dead. It marks the first public rift between the two close allies since the fighting began last week and could complicate international efforts to reach a cease-fire. His pushback also poses a difficult early test of the U.S.-Israel relationship.
After visiting military headquarters, Netanyahu said Wednesday he appreciated “the support of the American president,” but that Israel would push ahead to return “calm and security” to its citizens. He said he was “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.”
U.S. President Joe Biden had earlier told Netanyahu that he expected “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire,” the White House said.
Biden had previously avoided pressing Israel more directly and publicly for a cease-fire with Gaza’s Hamas militant rulers. But pressure has been building for Biden to intervene more forcefully as other diplomatic efforts gather strength.
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