Israel launches strikes across Gaza as US envoy meets Netanyahu

Israel launches strikes across Gaza as US envoy meets Netanyahu


Israel launches strikes across Gaza as US envoy meets Netanyahu

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CAIRO/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli planes and tanks pounded areas across the Gaza Strip, residents said, as White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday amid US calls for a more focused military campaign.

Sullivan was expected to press for Israel to go after Hamas militants in a targeted way, not with a full-scale assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, the White House said before the discussions.

Israel has been pushing into the city that it says is the last bastion of Hamas forces. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have fled the area that was one of their few remaining places of refuge.

"Across the Gaza Strip, there is no safety," said Sahar Omran who told Reuters her family had fled Rafah and just returned to what was left of their home in the southern city of Khan Younis that they had fled nearly five months ago.

"We took our children, grandchildren, and daughters and we came and lived above the rubble of our home. Because there is no place to take refuge here," Omran told Reuters inside the wrecked property as another woman cooked over a fire.

Israeli forces also pushed deeper into the narrow alleyways of Jabalia in northern Gaza overnight and into Sunday, returning to an area that they said they had cleared earlier in the conflict, residents said.

The Israeli military has said its operations in Jabalia - the largest of Gaza's eight historic refugee camps - are precise and meant to stop Hamas from reestablishing its grip there.

The Israeli military said it was "operating to identify armed terrorist cells and ... conducting dozens of strikes to assist the forces operating on the ground" in the Jabalia area.


Ahead of Sunday's talks, an Israeli official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his senior aides would try to reach agreement with Sullivan about the need for press ahead with the Rafah push.

Past US misgivings about the feasibility of Israel's humanitarian measures may have been allayed by the evacuation around half of the city's Palestinians in 12 days, said the official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity.

"We've shown that this is not only necessary, but doable," added the official.

The official said Israel would also air concerns about dozens of tunnels it says its forces have found under Rafah, running into next-door Egypt - which has condemned the military sweep.