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Gaza fighting intensifies after US vetoes ceasefire in UN   

Israel pounded the Gaza Strip from north to south on Saturday in an expanded phase of its two-month-old war against Hamas, after the United States wielded its U.N. Security Council veto to shield its ally from a global demand for a ceasefire.

Thirteen of the Security Council’s 15 members voted for the resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire that was blocked by Washington. Britain abstained.

Since a truce collapsed last week, Israel has expanded its ground campaign into the southern half of the Gaza Strip by launching the storming of the main southern city Khan Younis. Simultaneously, both sides have reported a surge in fighting in the north.

Residents of Khan Younis said on Saturday that Israeli forces were ordering people out of another district just west of positions the Israelis stormed earlier this week, suggesting a further assault could be imminent.

The vast majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have already been forced from their homes, many fleeing multiple times. With fighting raging across the length of the territory, residents and U.N. agencies say there is now effectively nowhere safe to go, though Israel disputes this.

Israel has blocked Gazans from fleeing along the main north-south route down the spine of the narrow strip, and is shunting them instead towards the Mediterranean coast.

Israel launched its campaign to annihilate Gaza’s Hamas rulers after the Iran-backed Islamist group’s fighters burst across the Gaza border fence on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 240 hostages in a rampage though Israeli towns.

Israeli forces say they are limiting civilian casulaties by providing them with maps showing areas that are safe, and blame Hamas for causing harm to civilians by hiding among them, which the fighters deny. Palestinians say the campaign has turned into a scorched-earth war of vengeance against the entire population of an enclave as densely-populated as London.

Washington has said it told Israel to do more to protect civilians in the next phase of the war. This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said there was a “gap” between Israel’s promises to protect civilians and the outcome on the ground. But Washington has continued to support Israel’s position that a ceasefire would benefit Hamas.

“We do not support this resolution’s call for an unsustainable ceasefire that will only plant the seeds for the next war,” Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Robert Wood told the Security Council before exercising Washington’s veto.

Ezzat El-Reshiq, a member of Hamas’ political bureau, condemned the U.S. veto as “inhumane”. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority which lost control of Gaza to Hamas in 2007, said the veto made the United States complicit in Israeli war crimes.

Israel’s U.N. Ambassador Gilad Erdan said in a statement: “A ceasefire will be possible only with the return of all the hostages and the destruction of Hamas.”

 

 

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Sydney Okafor

I am so passionate about this my profession as a broadcast journalist and voiceover artists and presently a reporter at TV360 Nigeria

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