The prime minister complained about the “very heavy cost” of the war after 15 soldiers died over the weekend
Israel is intensifying its bombardment of Gaza despite growing international opposition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.
“The war is exacting a very heavy cost from us,” he told his cabinet during a weekly meeting. “However, we have no choice but to continue to fight.”
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) reportedly lost 15 soldiers in Gaza over the weekend, with all but one of the deaths taking place on Friday and Saturday.
Israel hit 200 targets in a single 24-hour period during the same weekend, military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari told reporters on Saturday. Just one of those strikes, targeting Gaza City, killed 90 Palestinians, including 76 members of a single extended family – making it one of the deadliest strikes in what has already proven to be an unusually destructive bombing campaign aided by a controversial AI targeting program whose critics have deemed it a “mass assassination factory.”
The IDF has stepped up fighting in both the north, where Gaza City and environs have been largely flattened after West Jerusalem issued a controversial evacuation order decried as a war crime by UN human rights experts, and in a “dense area” in the southern city of Khan Younis, Hagari explained. Another division was focused on destroying Hamas’ much-hyped underground tunnel network, he said.
With over 20,000 Palestinians reported by Gaza’s Health Ministry to be killed and another 53,000 said to be wounded, the death toll of Israel’s war has attracted condemnation from the United Nations, international humanitarian organizations, and even its staunch allies in the US. In a phone call with his Israeli counterpart on Saturday, US President Joe Biden reportedly emphasized the “critical need” to protect civilian lives.
However, Biden stressed that he “did not ask for a ceasefire” during their conversation, and the US was accused of watering down a UN Security Council resolution that passed on Friday demanding large-scale aid deliveries be allowed into Gaza.
Netanyahu specifically denied a Wall Street Journal report published on Saturday that claimed he had canceled a planned strike against Hezbollah due to US pressure just four days after Hamas’ October 7 attack left 1,200 Israelis dead.
While the report claimed West Jerusalem had been poised to carry out a multi-pronged “preemptive strike” against the Lebanese militant group only for Biden to point out that doing so would inevitably trigger a wider war, Netanyahu insisted the IDF’s decisions on whether or not to attack its neighbors were wholly independent.
“Israel is a sovereign state,” he said in a statement on Sunday.