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Heavy Fighting Continues in Southern Gaza

Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says Israel’s pounding of Gaza has killed close to 18,000 people, most of them women and children.

Only 9 out of 10 people in Gaza are able to eat every day, according to Carl Skau, deputy director of the World Food Program.

The Israeli military says its offensive must go forward.

“Any death and pain to a civilian is painful, but we don’t have an alternative,” Lt. Col. Richard Hecht told the BBC Saturday.

Israel said Saturday it is expanding its military operations in the southern Gaza Strip.

There was heavy fighting Saturday in the southern Gaza town of Khan Younis that continued into Sunday.

Palestinians were told to evacuate to southern Gaza to avoid the fighting in the north.  Now the fighting has traveled south.

National security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi has said Israeli forces have killed at least 7,000 Hamas militants so far, but he did not say how that estimate was reached.The World Health Organization’s executive board is meeting Sunday to discuss the health situation in Gaza.

The United States is supplying Israel with ammunition for its fight against Hamas.

The U.S. State Department has approved the emergency sale of 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition to Israel for about $106.5 million, the Biden administration said Saturday.

The State Department said it had notified Congress of the sale late Friday after Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined “an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale” of the munitions in the U.S. national security interest.

The purchase will bypass congressional review, which is usually a requirement for foreign military sales. The action is rare, though not unheard of, when administrations see an urgent need for weapons to be delivered without waiting for lawmakers’ approval. At least four administrations have used the authority since 1979, according to The Associated Press.

“The United States is committed to the security of Israel, and it is vital to U.S. national interests to assist Israel to develop and maintain a strong and ready self-defense capability. This proposed sale is consistent with those objectives,” a statement issued by the State Department said. The ammunition would come from U.S. inventory.

The sale will be from U.S. Army inventory and consist of 120mm M830A1 High Explosive Anti-Tank Multi-Purpose with Tracer tank cartridges and related equipment, the Pentagon said in a statement.

The move comes as President Joe Biden’s request for a nearly $106 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and other national security is languishing in Congress, caught up in a debate over U.S. immigration policy and border security.

U.S. veto

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his appreciation Saturday, for the U.S. veto at the U.N. Security Council, blocking a demand for a cease-fire in Gaza.

“Other countries must also understand that it’s impossible to support the elimination of Hamas on one side, and on the other to call for the end of the war, which will prevent the elimination of Hamas,” Netanyahu said. “Therefore, Israel will continue our just war to eliminate Hamas and achieve the war’s other objectives that we set.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called Saturday for the Security Council to be reformed, decrying the fact that the United States could veto a cease-fire proposal for Gaza despite huge support from other countries.

“The United Nations Security Council demand for cease-fire is rejected only by U.S. veto. Is this justice?” Erdogan said at a human rights conference in Istanbul.

Agnes Callamard, the secretary-general of Amnesty International, also disagreed with the U.S. veto, calling it “morally indefensible and a dereliction of the U.S. duty to prevent atrocity crimes and uphold international law.”

The U.S. reasoning against a cease-fire is that it would allow Hamas, a U.S.-designated terrorist group, to regroup and carry out new incursions. Washington instead supports pauses in fighting to protect civilians and allow the release of hostages taken by the militants during the October 7 terror attack on Israel.