Israel attacks Khan Younis and Jabalia as Netanyahu and Biden discuss postwar future

US and Israeli leaders at odds over two-state solution

Smoke rises in Khan Younis following Israeli bombardments on January 17, 2024. AP Photo
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Israel intensified its attacks on Gaza early on Saturday – in Khan Younis in the south and around Jabalia in the north – as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Joe Biden sought to address differences over a post-war future for Palestinians.

Targets were pounded across the strip and planes dropped leaflets on the southern area of Rafah urging Palestinians seeking refuge there to help locate hostages held by Hamas, Reuters cited residents as saying.

At least 165 Palestinians were killed and 280 injured in the last 24 hours, Gaza's Health Ministry said, adding that the total death toll now stands at almost 25,000, with more than 62,000 people wounded.

Palestinian fighters battled tanks trying to push back into the eastern suburbs of Jabalia, where Israel had started pulling out troops and shifting to smaller-scale operations, Reuters said.

At Al Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, a child with a bloodied face awaited medical attention while ambulances carrying the wounded and the dead arrived to the sound of automatic weapons in the distance, AFP reported.

An orange fireball flashed above rooftops and there were plumes of dark smoke over the city.

Violence has also surged in the occupied West Bank, where Israeli troops and settlers have killed more than 360 people since October 7, according to the Palestinian Authority-led health ministry.

Karam Hussain, a 14-year-old, buried the bodies of his father and two cousins at Buraj camp school yard.

“We couldn’t leave the school due to the continuing shelling, so I didn't have another choice, so I buried my father here," Karam told The National.

There are at least 10 dead from Israeli attacks buried in the schoolyard.

"My father left us to bring water and food but Israeli warplanes targeted him with my other two cousins," Karam said.

He is staying with his mother and brothers at the school. They fled their house which is located at the east of the camp, in the centre of the Gaza Strip.

“The Israeli army has prevented me from calling my father’s name again, and they made me an orphan, this is enough, please stop the war," Karam said.

Palestinian news agency Wafa reported the death of a 17-year-old Palestinian in Israeli fire in Al Mazraa Al Sharqiya, east of Ramallah.

Nearly 20,000 babies have been born "in hell" in the Gaza Strip since the start of the Israeli offensive, the UN children's agency Unicef said on Friday.

Mr Netanyahu has said Israel expects the war to continue for months, but his comments on Thursday rejecting a so-called two-state solution suggested a rift with its financial and military backer the US.

Mr Biden said after Friday's call with Mr Netanyahu, with whom he has had a complicated relationship over 40 years, it was possible the Israeli leader might come around to the US's viewpoint.

"There are a number of types of two-state solutions. There's a number of countries that are members of the UN that ... don't have their own militaries," Mr Biden told reporters after an event at the White House.

"And so, I think there are ways in which this could work."

Mr Netanyahu said on Thursday Israel "must have security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River", which "contradicts the idea of (Palestinian) sovereignty".

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken had said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, a day earlier that Israel could not achieve "genuine security" without a "pathway to a Palestinian state".

The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said that Israeli forces on Friday released volunteer Hani Wadi, who had been detained from an ambulance centre in Jabalia one month ago.

"The Israeli army continues to hold five of our team in the Gaza Strip," the Red Crescent said.

US 'deeply concerned' as Palestinian-American teenager killed in West Bank

US 'deeply concerned' as Palestinian-American teenager killed in West Bank

Last night, the Palestinian Telecommunications Company said that its teams managed to restore basic services to subscribers to what they were before the interruption, which lasted eight days, "despite the danger and difficulty of the conditions".

It comes as the United Nations Women said on Friday that women and children are the main victims of the Gaza war.

At least 16,000 have been killed since the conflict started in early October and an estimated two mothers losing their lives every hour, it said.

A report by the agency said that at least 3,000 women may have become widows and heads of households and at least 10,000 children may have lost their fathers.

Palestinians protest in West Bank after drone strike kills Hamas deputy in Beirut

Palestinians protest in West Bank after drone strike kills Hamas deputy in Beirut

Israel's military offensive has moved further south in Gaza as the conflict has continued.

Updated: January 20, 2024, 12:03 PM