By Fares Akram and Joseph Krauss ;
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was determined to continue this operation until its aim is met
ISRAEL unleashed another wave of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip early on Thursday, killing at least one Palestinian and wounding several, and Hamas fired more rockets, even as expectations rose that a ceasefire could be coming. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed back against calls from the US to wind down the Gaza offensive, appearing determined to inflict maximum damage on Hamas in a war that could help save his political career. Still, officials close to the negotiations say they expect a truce to be announced in the next 24 hours.
Explosions shook Gaza City and orange flares lit up the pre-dawn sky, with bombing raids 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 a commercial thoroughfare in Gaza City.
The Israeli military said, it struck at least three homes of Hamas commanders in Khan Younis and another in Rafah, targeting “military infrastructure,” as well as a weapons storage unit at a home in Gaza City. With hundreds already killed in the worst fighting since Israel and Hamas’ 2014 war, US President Joe Biden told Israel on Wednesday that he expected “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire” — but Netanyahu pushed back, saying he was “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met.” It marked the first public rift between the two close allies since the fighting began and poses a difficult test of the US-Israel relationship early in Biden’s presidency. Still, an Egyptian Intelligence official said, a ceasefire was likely late Thursday or early Friday, after the US appeal bolstered Cairo’s own efforts to halt the fighting. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the delicate talks.