The Palestinian death toll from the war between Israel and Hamas has soared past 25,000, the Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip said Sunday, while Israel announced the death of another hostage and appeared far from achieving its goals of freeing more than 100 others and crushing the militant group.
The deaths, destruction and displacement from the war are without precedent in the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The war has divided Israelis while the offensive threatens to ignite a wider conflict involving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen that support the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he stressed in his conversation with U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday that he rejects Hamas demands for a cease-fire, Israeli forces’ withdrawal and the release of Palestinians held by Israel in exchange for the remaining hostages. He said that agreeing means another devastating Hamas attack “would only be a matter of time.”
Netanyahu also has rejected calls from U.S, its closest ally, for postwar plans that would include a path to Palestinian statehood. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the refusal to accept a two-state solution unacceptable.
“The Middle East is a tinderbox. We must do all we can to prevent conflict igniting across the region,” Guterres added. “And that starts with an immediate humanitarian cease-fire to relieve the suffering in Gaza.”