Middle East Crisis: Top Israeli and U.S. Defense Officials Meet on Rafah as Tensions Rise

The Israeli military pressed on with its bombardment of the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, signaling that the passing of a United Nations resolution calling for a cease-fire for the holy month of Ramadan the day before had not shaken Israel’s determination to keep fighting.

The military said its fighter jets had struck “over 60 targets” in Gaza over the previous day. It added that its forces were also operating in central Gaza, where it said they had killed “a number of terrorists.” The military also said on Tuesday that it had confirmed the death of a senior Hamas leader. Wafa, the Palestinian Authority’s news agency, said Tuesday that the Israeli military had struck residential homes and buildings and that dozens of people were killed.

In a statement, the Israeli military added that it was continuing its “operational activity” around Al-Amal Hospital and the town of Al-Qarara, in the Khan Younis area of southern Gaza, adding that its forces were “eliminating terrorists and carrying out targeted raids on terrorist infrastructure.”

Al-Amal Hospital went out of service on Monday night after Israeli forces besieged it a day earlier and forced everyone inside to leave before closing off its entrances with earthen barriers, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which runs the hospital. The organization said on Monday that two people had been killed and three others wounded when Israeli forces opened fire as they were being evacuated.

The Israeli military also said on Tuesday that it was pressing on with its assault on Al-Shifa Hospital in the north for a ninth day. It said its forces there had “located weapons, and engaged with and eliminated several terrorists in the hospital area.” Witnesses have described days of fear at the complex, with several patients dying as a result of the assault.

Ezzeldine al-Dali, who lives less than a mile from Al-Shifa, said airstrikes and gunfire had intensified in the area on Monday night, before calming down on Tuesday morning, which residents took as a sign that Israeli forces had concluded their raid.

He said people he knew went to the hospital thinking the raid was over, but “they were wrong,” and people were shot and wounded. His account could not be independently verified. The Israeli military said it was checking into it.

Israel has long accused Hamas, the armed group that led an attack into southern Israel on Oct. 7, of using hospitals in Gaza for military purposes, a claim that Hamas and hospital administrators have denied.

Palestinians inspecting a destroyed home in Rafah, Gaza, on Tuesday.Credit…Mohammed Salem/Reuters

An analysis by The New York Times found that Hamas had used the Shifa complex for military purposes. The Israeli military, however, has struggled to prove its claim that Hamas maintained a command-and-control center under it.

In a news conference on Tuesday, a military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said that Israel had killed Marwan Issa, the deputy commander of Hamas’s military wing in Gaza, in a targeted strike.

Admiral Hagari said on March 11 that Israel had targeted Mr. Issa, a presumed planner of the Oct. 7 attacks, and another official. The United States had confirmed him dead last week, making him the senior-most Hamas leader to be killed in Gaza since the start of the war.

Though a U.N. resolution had passed, Mr. al-Dali, 22, said it did not give him or those around him any hope that the Israeli bombardment would stop soon. “We have lost hope in every way,” he said in a phone call on Tuesday.

“The International Court of Justice, Biden and all the Arab and Western countries could not stop Israel,” said Mr. al-Dali. “So why would the United Nations be able to stop them?”

The International Court of Justice in late January ordered Israel to ensure that its actions would not lead to genocide, and to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza. But the court did not order a halt to fighting in the Gaza Strip.

Wafa reported on Tuesday that dozens of Palestinians had been killed in an Israeli strike on a family home near Al-Shifa, citing medical sources. It did not specify the timing. The agency also reported that the Israeli military had struck other residential homes and buildings around Al-Shifa and fired on people moving on the roads around the hospital, killing and wounding dozens.

The Palestinian news agency also reported Israeli strikes in the northwest of Gaza City, the northern community of Beit Lahia and the southern city of Rafah, where it reported that a home where displaced families were living was struck, killing more than a dozen Palestinians and wounding dozens more.

These reports could not be independently verified, and the Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on them.

Aaron Boxerman contributed reporting.

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