Israeli airstrikes on Gaza continue, Tel Aviv targeted; Hamas leader: Israel must initiate ceasefire; US accused of preventing UN Security Council action on Gaza crisis
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    Israel is reported to have launched over 100 attacks on sites in Gaza by early this week, following the killing of Ahmed Jabari, the commander of Hamas’ military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, on November 14 in an airstrike that targeted the car he was travelling in. 1 At least 105 people have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip over six days of violence. On the other hand, three Israelis were reported killed by rockets fired into Israel last week. 2 Israel has also targeted twice a building that houses local and international media offices in Gaza City, killing a military leader of Islamic Jihad and injuring journalists and civilians. 3 Meanwhile, aid agencies have warned of a humanitarian disaster if the conflict continues. The situation is aggravated by over five years of a blockade of Gaza by Israel that has hampered supplies of essential aid. 4

    The exiled Hamas leader, Khaled Mashaal, has said that Israel must make the first move towards a ceasefire in the Gaza conflict, since “whoever started the war must end it”. Mashaal, speaking in Cairo, said that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had requested a ceasefire. This was immediately denied by Israel. He said Hamas would agree to a truce but would not yield to any Israeli conditions, and would fight back if the conflict escalated. 5 Palestinians have called for the lifting of the Israeli blockade on Gaza, and the permanent opening of the Rafah crossing with Egypt. 6

    Meanwhile, according to reports, Israeli plans to launch a ground offensive into Gaza has been postponed reportedly after it decided to allow Egyptian mediators more time to broker a ceasefire with Hamas. Egyptian officials have said that a deal may be close but Israeli officials need to be more “flexible”. 7

    In another development, Russia has accused the United States of blocking the UN Security Council from denouncing the Israeli-Gaza conflict and said that other Council members were “filibustering” the issue. A draft resolution was circulated by Morocco last week, but the US delegation has refused to engage in consultations relating to it to ensure that any UN statement would not become detrimental to ongoing mediation efforts by Egypt. 8