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Fierce fighting rages in Gaza after Zionist entity rebuffs US pause call

GAZA: The Zionist entity battled into the fifth week Saturday of its war to crush Hamas, showing no signs of letting up even as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken faced a rising tide of anger in meetings with Arab foreign ministers. Blinken reaffirmed US support for “humanitarian pauses” in the fighting in Gaza to ensure desperate civilians get help a day after the Zionist entity’s hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the idea short shrift.

Speaking at a news conference in Amman about sparing civilians and speeding up aid deliveries, the US top diplomat said: “The United States believes that all of these efforts will be facilitated by humanitarian pauses.” Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi called for all sides to work together to “stop a catastrophe that will haunt the region for generations”.

The Zionist army said its troops had launched an operation in southern Gaza overnight, after deadly strikes hit an ambulance convoy and a school-turned-refugee shelter in the besieged Palestinian enclave. Zionist forces have encircled Gaza’s largest city, trying to crush Hamas in retaliation for Oct 7 raids into the Zionist entity that officials say killed around 1,400 people.

The Zionist military said it had come under attack several times from Hamas “tunnel shafts and military compounds” in northern Gaza. Hamas said it had hit a Zionist convoy with mortar fire. The health ministry in Gaza says more than 9,480 Gazans, mostly women and children, have been killed in Zionist strikes and the intensifying ground campaign. The ministry said at least 12 people had been killed when the Zionist entity struck a United Nations school where thousands of displaced Palestinians were sheltering.

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The Zionist military describes Gaza City as “the center of the Hamas terror organization” and says it is targeting militants, weapons stores, tunnel complexes and command centers. Overnight, Zionist ground forces launched “a targeted raid” to map tunnels and clear explosive traps in southern Gaza, where it has struck before but rarely sent in troops, the military said. “The troops encountered a terrorist cell exiting a tunnel shaft. In response, the troops fired shells toward the terrorists and killed them,” it said.

The Zionist entity says it has struck 12,000 targets across the Palestinian territory since October 7, one of the fiercest bombing campaigns in recent memory. The army on Saturday sent text messages to Gazans saying the territory’s main north-south road would be open for three hours in the afternoon so people can evacuate. A key focus of Blinken’s visit to the Zionist entity on Friday was to convince Netanyahu to enact “humanitarian pauses”.

Netanyahu said later, however, that he would not agree to a “temporary truce” with Hamas until the Islamist group releases more than 240 Zionist and foreign captives it abducted during its Oct 7 attack.

In Gaza City, a Zionist strike on Friday hit an ambulance convoy near the territory’s largest hospital Al-Shifa, killing 15 people, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent and the health ministry. An AFP journalist saw multiple bodies beside the blood-splattered Palestinian Red Crescent vehicle. The Red Crescent said a convoy of five vehicles had been destined for the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, when they were struck multiple times. One vehicle had been transporting a 35-year-old woman with shrapnel wounds.

A senior White House official said Hamas had tried to use a US-brokered deal opening the Egyptian border crossing to get its cadres out. Hamas provided a list of wounded Palestinians for evacuation with one-third of the names those of Hamas members and fighters, the official said. “That was just unacceptable to Egypt, to us, to (the Zionist entity),” the official added. Egypt’s health ministry said just 17 wounded Palestinians were evacuated for treatment in Egyptian hospitals Friday instead of the 28 originally planned because of the “events” at Al-Shifa.

Blinken began the day in Amman by holding talks with Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani of Qatar, a mediator in the conflict. He also had meetings scheduled with the foreign ministers of Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The talks come amid mounting Arab anger over the civilian death toll from war, and increasing fears that the conflict could spread. – AFP

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