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Benjamin Netanyahu rejects U.S. push for future Palestinian state

<img src='' alt='Israel President Benjamin Netanyahu has dismissed the idea of a future Palestinian state, despite U.S. President Joe Biden insisting this week that a state is the only realistic road to peace./Reuters/Ronen Zvulun.'

Israel bombarded southern Gaza on Friday after it publicly sparred with its main ally the U.S. over the possibility of a Palestinian state, the creation of which Washington sees as the only pathway to a lasting peace.

Witnesses reported gunfire and air strikes early on Friday in Khan Younis, the main city in the south of the Gaza Strip, where Israel says many members and leaders of the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas are hiding.

The Palestinian Red Crescent reported “intense” artillery fire near the Al-Amal hospital, while Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry said 77 people were killed and dozens injured overnight.

The Israeli military said its Givati Brigade was fighting as far south as its troops had reached so far in the campaign. “The soldiers eliminated dozens of terrorists in close-quarters combat and with the assistance of tank fire and air support,” it said.


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<img src='' alt='A displaced Palestinian boy, who fled his house due to Israeli strikes, sits on a water canister at a tent camp in Rafah./Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

Netanyahu targets “total victory” in Palestine

Washington supports Israel’s campaign in Gaza, but despite otherwise close ties, the two allies publicly aired differences again this week over the way forward. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken used the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to renew his call for a “pathway to a Palestinian state”. But Netanyahu again flatly rejected the suggestion on Thursday.

“Israel must have security control over the entire territory west of the Jordan River,” he said. “This is a necessary condition, which contradicts the idea of (Palestinian) sovereignty.”

Netanyahu maintained that “a prime minister in Israel should be able to say no, even to our best friends.” Washington believes that the creation and recognition of a viable Palestinian state is necessary to achieve security for Israel.

“We obviously see things differently,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said when asked about Netanyahu’s comments.

<img src='' alt='Palestinians stand at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Rafah, as Israeli armed forces continue to bombard the south of the region. Reuters/Fadi Shana.

Hepatitis A cases on the rise in Gaza

The United Nations says the war, which began with the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, has displaced roughly 85 percent of Gaza’s 2.4 million people. Many are crowded into shelters where they struggle to get food, water, fuel and medical care. UN agencies say improved aid access is needed urgently as famine and disease loom.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said overnight it had counted 24 cases of hepatitis A and “thousands” of cases of jaundice likely linked to the spread of the viral liver infection.

“The inhumane living conditions — almost no drinking water, clean toilets or ability to keep the surroundings clean — will allow hepatitis A to spread further,” WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on X, formerly Twitter, describing the health crisis as “explosive.”

<img src='' alt='A displaced Palestinian child is fed at a tent camp after a bombing forced him and his family to leave their home behind./Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa.

UN says Palestinian detainees ill-treated

A UN human rights official on Friday called for an end to Israel’s ill treatment of Palestinian detainees in Gaza, saying he had met men who had been held for weeks, beaten and blindfolded, with some released in diapers.

“These are men who were detained by the Israeli security forces in unknown locations for between 30 to 55 days,” said Ajith Sunghay, a UN human rights representative in Gaza, who met with released detainees in the enclave. “There are reports of men who are subsequently released, but only in diapers without any adequate clothing in this cold weather.”

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