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Israeli fighter jets pound Gaza as Netanyahu defies truce call

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, Palestine: Israeli fighter jets continued to bombard the Gaza Strip on Thursday, killing at least one Palestinian and wounding several more as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has defied calls for a de-escalation.

At least 227 Palestinians, including 64 children, have been killed in 11 days of violence.

On the Israeli side, 12 people have been killed.

Joe Biden, the president of the United States, on Wednesday, discussed the events in Gaza with Netanyahu, telling the caretaker leader that he expected “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire”.

But shortly after Biden’s phone call, Netanyahu said he was “determined” to continue bombarding Gaza until Israel’s “aim is met”.

The UN Security Council’s efforts for a truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers remain stalled, meanwhile, with the US continuing to veto action on the issue.

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas could “come as early as Friday”, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported, citing the US and foreign officials involved in the discussions.

Egyptian officials have made headway in negotiations with Hamas’ leadership, the newspaper said, while the Israeli military has privately conceded that it is nearing the completion of its objectives.

Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas political official, has predicted a ceasefire within days in the Israeli-Gaza escalation.

“I think that the ongoing efforts regarding the ceasefire will succeed,” he told Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV. “I expect a ceasefire to be reached within a day or two, and the ceasefire will be on the basis of mutual agreement.”

An Egyptian security source said the sides had agreed in principle to a ceasefire after help from mediators but details were still being negotiated in secret.

A Wafa correspondent in Gaza said Israeli fighters jets carried out a minimum of 30 air raids that targeted roads and homes in Gaza City, Jabalia and Khan Younis.

The raids caused “significant destruction” to the Saftawi highway, which links Gaza City to northern areas of the enclave, and damaged power, water and sanitation networks, the agency reported.

Palestinian groups in Gaza fired 80 rockets and mortar shells towards southern Israel between 7:00 pm on Wednesday and 7:00 am on Thursday, the Times of Israel reported, citing the Israeli military.

The Israeli air defence system intercepted a majority of the rockets and there were no reports of injuries, according to the website.