GAZA STRIP: Prospects for an Israel-Hamas ceasefire dimmed on Sunday after the US signaled it would veto the latest push for a UN Security Council resolution and mediator Qatar acknowledged that separate truce talks have hit an impasse.

Efforts to pause the over four-month-old war languish as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to reject international appeals to spare Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, where around 1.4 million people have sought refuge.

Israel’s relentless campaign against Hamas militants has edged closer to the city.

At the morgue of a Rafah hospital, mourners bent down to give a final kiss to a loved one wrapped in a white body bag.

“That’s my cousin — he was martyred in Al-Mawasi, in the ‘safe area’,” said Ahmad Muhammad Aburizq. “And my mother was martyred the day before. 

“There’s no safe place. Even the hospital is not safe.” A total of 127 people died over the previous 24 hours, the Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said on Sunday.

Even if a temporary truce deal is struck, Netanyahu said the ground invasion of Rafah will go ahead.

Countries urging Israel otherwise are effectively saying “lose the war,” argued the prime minister, whose coalition includes religious and ultra-nationalist parties.

Netanyahu spoke as thousands protested in Tel Aviv, the latest public call for an immediate election. They also accused the government of abandoning the hostages.

“Take politics out of decisions about our loved ones’ lives,” demanded Nissan Calderon, brother of hostage Ofer Calderon. “This is the moment of truth. There won’t be many more like it if the Cairo initiative collapses.”

Israel’s military on Sunday said troops in the southern city of Khan Younis are still operating “in the Nasser Hospital” and adjacent to it where they “located additional weapons.” Israel has for weeks concentrated its military operations in Khan Younis, the hometown of Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, whom Israel accuses of masterminding the Oct. 7 attack.

On Sunday the military said it had killed around 35 militants, mostly by tank fire, and struck a “weapons storage facility” over the previous 24 hours. An air strike in central Gaza killed “over 10” militants, it said.

The head of the UN humanitarian agency OCHA in the Palestinian territories, Andrea De Domenico, said he had “no idea” how an estimated 300,000 people still in Gaza’s north had survived.

The UN has cited “significant restrictions” on aid delivery to north Gaza while in Rafah there had been “reports of people stopping aid trucks to take food.”

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