Fighting continues between Israel and Hamas after Biden calls for ceasefire

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JERUSALEM – The fighting between Israel and Hamas has entered its ninth consecutive day despite a call from President Joe Biden for a ceasefire.

Israeli warplanes carried out another round of airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, destroying a six-story building, while militants fired dozens of rockets at Israel.

Health officials in Gaza say more than 200 people have been killed and there are severe water and electricity shortages. People are still trying to dig after a number of heavy Israeli airstrikes in recent days aimed at demolishing Hamas infrastructure, including a network of tunnels used by Hamas to transport weapons, equipment and people.

Small businesses and roads have also been targeted, raising concerns that this could have a serious impact on Gaza’s economy and on the delivery of humanitarian aid to the region.

Palestinian leaders in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and parts of Israel are calling for a day of general strike Tuesday to protest Israeli attacks in Gaza. Palestinian government offices, banks and businesses will be closed.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) say Hamas fired around 200 rockets at Israel on Monday, many near the Israel-Gaza border. The military said that since the latest round of fighting began a week ago, more than 3,500 rockets have been launched at Israel, more than in any previous conflict. At least 10 Israelis have been killed.

Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. The White House then released a carefully crafted statement saying the president “had expressed support for a ceasefire” to help end the fighting. However, he stopped before asking for the fighting to stop. Biden said Israel has the right to defend itself, but urged him to “protect innocent civilians.”

The wording of the declaration is interpreted by some as giving Israel too much room to continue the airstrikes that have caused widespread destruction in Gaza.

Netanyahu held a meeting with defense and intelligence chiefs on Monday, later saying his directive was to continue hitting “terrorist targets.”

Copyright 2021 NPR. To learn more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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