, Gaza Strip
(AP) — Israel
launched a wave of airstrikes
across the Gaza Strip early Thursday, killing at least one Palestinian and injuring several others, following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
's defiance of US pressure to end the offensive against Gaza's militant Hamas
rulers, who have fired thousands of rockets at Israel.
Explosions shook Gaza City and orange flares lit up the night sky, with airstrikes also reported in the central town of Deir al-Balah and the southern town of Khan Younis. As the sun rose, residents surveyed the rubble of at least five family homes destroyed in Khan Younis, and heavy airstrikes were also reported on al-Saftawi Street, a commercial thoroughfare in Gaza City.
The Israeli military said it targeted "military infrastructure
" as well as a weapons storage unit at the home of a Hamas fighter in Gaza City.
An Israeli airstrike destroyed the Khawaldi family's two-story house in Khan Younis, injuring and hospitalizing all 11 residents, according to Shaker al-Khozondar, a neighbor.
Shrapnel hit his family's next-door home, killing Hoda al-Khozondar and injuring her daughter and two cousins, he said. Weam Fares, a spokesman for a nearby hospital, confirmed her death
and said at least ten people
were injured in overnight strikes.
It is the first public schism between the two close allies since the fighting began last week, and it could complicate international efforts to reach a cease-fire. Netanyahu's pushback also poses a difficult early test of the US-Israel relationship.
Following a visit to military headquarters, Netanyahu stated on Wednesday that he appreciated “the support of the American president,” but that Israel would press on to restore “calm and security” to its citizens, adding that he was “determined to continue this operation until its goal is met.”
According to the White House
, US President Joe Biden
told Netanyahu earlier that he expected “a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire.”
Biden had previously avoided pressing Israel more directly and publicly for a cease-fire with Gaza's militant Hamas rulers, but pressure is mounting for Biden to intervene more forcefully as other diplomatic efforts gain traction.
Egyptian negotiators have also been working to bring the fighting to a halt, and an Egyptian diplomat said top officials were awaiting Israel's response to a cease-fire offer, speaking on the condition of anonymity in accordance with regulations.
A top Hamas official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told Lebanon's Mayadeen TV that a cease-fire would be reached in a day or two.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was scheduled to visit the region on Thursday for talks with Israelis and Palestinians
, according to Israel's Foreign Ministry, and the foreign ministers of Slovakia and the Czech Republic were invited to join him to "express their solidarity and support" for Israel.
The current round of fighting between Israel and Hamas began on May 10, when the militant group fired long-range rockets toward Jerusalem
following days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police
at the Al-Aqsa Mosque
compound, a flashpoint site sacred to both Jews and Muslims.
Since then, Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes on Hamas infrastructure, including a vast tunnel network known as the "Metro." Hamas and other militant groups embedded in residential areas have fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, with hundreds falling short and the majority intercepted or landing in open areas.
According to the Gaza Health Ministry, at least 227 Palestinians have been killed, including 64 children
and 38 women, and 1,620 have been injured; Hamas and Islamic Jihad claim at least 20 fighters have been killed, while Israel claims at least 130 have been killed; and 58,000 Palestinians have fled their homes.
In Israel, twelve people were killed, including a five-year-old boy, a sixteen-year-old girl, and a soldier.
Since the fighting began, Gaza's infrastructure, which had already been weakened by a 14-year blockade, has rapidly deteriorated, with medical supplies, water, and electricity fuel running low in the territory, which Israel and Egypt imposed after Hamas seized power in 2007.
According to the World Health Organization
, Israeli attacks have damaged or destroyed at least 18 hospitals and clinics, and nearly half of all essential drugs have been depleted.
The fighting, which is the worst since Israel's war with Hamas in 2014, has sparked protests all over the world.
Krauss contributed reporting from Jerusalem, and Associated Press writer
Isabel DeBre in Dubai, UAE.