Deadly Strikes Hit Gaza During US Envoy Visit

An Israeli airstrike in central Gaza killed 31 people on Sunday, as reported by the Palestinian territory’s civil defense agency. This incident coincided with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan’s visit to Israel for discussions on the ongoing conflict. The Israeli military claimed their aircraft had targeted “dozens of terror sites” in the past 24 hours. The strike occurred in the Nuseirat refugee camp, with witnesses confirming the destruction of a residential complex and bodies still trapped in the rubble.

Israeli troops have advanced into Rafah, Gaza’s southern city, described by the Israeli army as the last Hamas stronghold. The United States reported that 800,000 civilians have been newly displaced due to the fighting in Rafah. Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, fired mortars at Israeli forces stationed at the now-closed Rafah crossing, essential for humanitarian aid.

The conflict has raised concerns of Israel becoming entangled in a prolonged counterinsurgency. Gaza’s civil defense agency reported the overnight airstrike as one of the deadliest, killing 31 people and injuring 20. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to continue the offensive against Hamas, which began after Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel. Netanyahu’s stance faces opposition, with calls from Washington and mass protests urging a clear post-war governance plan for Gaza.

During his visit, Sullivan met Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, to discuss the conflict and potential post-war scenarios. He stressed the need for a political strategy for Gaza’s future, linking military actions to broader diplomatic efforts. Washington is advocating for a post-war plan involving Palestinians and regional powers, alongside a broader diplomatic deal for Israel-Saudi Arabia normalization.

Politically, centrist politician Benny Gantz threatened to leave the coalition if a post-war “action plan” is not approved by early June. Gantz demanded steps to defeat Hamas, secure the release of hostages, and establish an international administration for Gaza’s civilian affairs. Netanyahu dismissed these demands, warning they could lead to a Palestinian state, which he opposes.

US President Joe Biden also called for an immediate Gaza ceasefire, advocating for a regional peace deal and a two-state solution. The ongoing conflict, triggered by Hamas’s unprecedented attack on October 7, has resulted in significant casualties on both sides. Israeli retaliatory strikes have killed over 35,000 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

In central Israel, mourners attended the funeral of German-Israeli Shani Louk, whose body was recently recovered from Gaza. Gaza, under a long blockade, faces severe shortages of clean water, food, medicines, and fuel, exacerbated by limited aid shipments and recent military operations.

The UN and international organizations have raised alarms about Gaza’s dire humanitarian situation. UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini reported that half of Gaza’s population has been forced to flee due to ongoing hostilities, with nowhere safe to go. Aid shipments into Gaza have been severely restricted, raising fears of a looming famine. The UN’s humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths warned of an imminent and severe humanitarian crisis if fuel shortages and other critical needs are not addressed urgently.

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