Airstrikes hit refugee camps in Gaza as U.S. approves new weapons sales to Israel

Airstrikes hit refugee camps in Gaza as U.S. approves new weapons sales to Israel

On Saturday, Israeli planes attacked two city refugee camps in central Gaza. Although many countries want calm there because lots of people are dying and others have lost homes without enough food or places to stay so President Biden allowed a new weapons sale to Israel anyway.

It seems impossible to stop fighting even for a short time. A big Hamas leader spoke to The Associated Press in Beirut on Saturday. He said that his group still wants a permanent stop of fighting as the first step for any hostages releases they have, which doesn't match with an idea from Egypt about ending the war bit by bit.

Israel will not accept this demand. Israel has said it will keep going with its big air and land attack until they have destroyed Hamas. Some people think this goal can't be reached because of how strongly linked the militant group is in Palestinian life. The United States has protected Israel in talks and kept sending weapons.

Israel believes that ending the fighting now would be a win for Hamas, an opinion also held by Biden's government. They want to stop hurting Palestinian people better but not finish this war.

The war caused by the deadly attack by Hamas on southern Israel has forced about 85% of Gaza Strip's 2.3 million people to leave their homes. These individuals look for safety in areas set up and protected against attacks, but have still been bombed themselves even though they are supposed to be safe from such strikes. That has caused Palestinians to feel very unsafe in the small area they live.

On Saturday, the Health Department in Gaza said that since the war started on 21,672 Palestinian people have died. Another 56,165 were injured during this time. In the last day, 165 people were killed said spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra. The department doesn't separate between the deaths of soldiers and ordinary people, but it said that about 70% of those who died were women or kids.

Some of the recent deaths were announced when Israeli attacks focused on refugee camps in Nuseirat and Bureij during Friday night into Saturday morning.

A man from Nuseirat, Mustafa Abu Wawee said a strike hit the house of one of his family members and killed two people.

"The (Israeli) control is doing everything it can to make people move away," he said on the phone while searching with others for four missing people under debris. "They want to destroy our spirit and determination, but they won't succeed. We are not going anywhere."

On Friday night, another strike in Nuseirat hit the house of a reporter for Al-Quds TV. This network is linked to Islamic Jihad group and its fighters were also part of the October 7 attack. The television reported that the news person, Jaber Abu Hadros and six family members of his were killed.

Rami Abu Mosab, who lives in Bureij stated that he heard gun shots all night and then big air attacks on Saturday.

Recently, Israeli soldiers went deeper into Khan Younis and the center of Gaza. As a result, many Palestinians came to Rafah city at the bottom part of Gaza where space is already tight.

A drone video showed a big camp with lots of tents and poorly made homes. It was on empty land in the town of Rafah near U.N.'s storage places out west. There were thousands living there! People came to Rafah in trucks, carts and on foot. People who couldn't fit in the very full shelters put up tents on sides of roads that were wet and slippery from winter rain.

More U.S. weapons for Israel

On Friday, the State Department said that Antony Blinken told Congress he agreed to a $147.5 million sale for things like fuses and gunpowder needed in 155 mm shells Israel bought earlier.

This is the second time this month that Biden's team ignored Congress to okay Israel in selling weapons. The department said that Israel's need to defend itself was very important, so they agreed.

On December 9, Blinken decided to allow Israel to buy almost 14,000 rounds of tank ammunition worth over $106 million.

Both these steps have happened as President Joe Biden's ask for nearly $106 billion help for Ukraine, Israel and other safety-related needs are still stuck in Congress. They don't know what to do due to different opinions about U.S immigration policy and how they should protect their borders. Some Democratic lawmakers talked about making the proposed $14.3 billion in US help to its Middle East friend conditional on actual actions by Benjamin Netanyahu's Israeli government that limit civilian casualties in Gaza while fighting with Hamas during the war.

Problems in getting help to Gaza.

After a U.N. Security Council resolution demanded help to get through fast and on large scale in Gaza, more than a week later the situation has only gotten worse, warned UN groups.

Help workers said the aid going into Gaza is still very bad. Giving out goods is slowed down by waiting a long time at two border crossings, fighting that keeps happening, Israeli attacks in the air and sporadic cuts to internet and phone services. There's also no law or order which makes it hard to protect groups bringing aid safely.

Most of the people rely completely on help from others, explained Philippe Lazzarini who is in charge at UNRWA. This agency helps refugees and it comes under the U.N.(United Nations). A lot of people are hungry because only a few big vehicles bring in food, medicine and other things. Sometimes there's less than 100 trucks per day to help them, reports the United Nations each day.

Officials from the U.N. reported that this week, operations at a border checkpoint run by Israel stopped for four days because of security issues like an attack with drones and people in Gaza stealing aid when they are very desperate to survive.

They said the road opened on Friday. A total of 81 help trucks went into Gaza through Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings with Egypt - much less than normal before war time when around 500 trucks were moving each day.

Israel and Hamas are still very far away in agreeing to a truce and hostage deal.

Israel officials promise to return over 100 hostages who are still in Gaza. This is after the attack on October 7 where more than 240 people were captured by militants, killing many civilians (over one thousand).

The military says that 168 of its soldiers have died since the ground attack started.

Egypt as a mediator has suggested a step-by-step plan. It will begin with exchanging hostages for prisoners, and also including an agreement on stopping fighting temporarily - similar to what happened during one week break last November where people were freed then too.

Later on, discussions would start about creating a temporary Palestinian government of experts. This group will manage both Gaza and the Israeli-controlled West Bank regions.

Israel and Hamas are still very far away when it comes to agreeing on the rules of a pause in fighting and future trades.

"We have made it clear that stopping all fighting is the first thing to do," Osama Hamdan, a top official from Hamas in Beirut said on Saturday. This is a job that seems to stop the plan of Egypt, although Hamdan also said talks are still happening.

"We have also gotten ideas from our brothers in Qatar and we haven't given a final answer yet," he said. "This might take some time. We really want to talk about the details because the idea suggested today may change in many ways and could stop being discussed."