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Israeli airstrike in Gaza kills 3 sons, 4 grandchildren of top Hamas leader

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Israeli aircraft killed three sons of Hamas’ top political leader in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, striking high-stakes targets at a time when Israel is holding delicate cease-fire negotiations with the terrorist group. Hamas said four of the leader’s grandchildren were also killed.

Ismail Haniyeh’s sons are among the highest-profile figures to be killed in the war so far. Israel said they were Hamas operatives, and Haniyeh accused Israel of acting in “the spirit of revenge and murder.”

The deaths threaten to strain the internationally mediated cease-fire talks, which appeared to gain steam in recent days even as the sides remain far apart on key issues.

Haniyeh said Hamas would not cave to the pressure leveled by the strike on his family.

Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV station said Hazem, Ameer and Mohammed Haniyeh were killed in the strike near the Shati refugee camp in Gaza City, where Ismail Haniyeh is originally from. Hamas said three of Haniyeh’s granddaughters and a grandson were also killed. Hamas did not disclose their ages.

The brothers were traveling with family members in a single vehicle targeted by an Israeli drone, Al-Aqsa TV said.

The Israeli military said Mohammed and Hazem were Hamas military operatives and that Ameer was a cell commander. It said they had conducted terrorist activity in the central Gaza Strip, without elaborating. It did not comment about the grandchildren killed.

For Palestinians, the strike on Haniyeh’s family darkened an already grim Eid al-Fitr holiday, which ends the holy fasting month of Ramadan. Palestinians marked the holiday by visiting the graves of loved ones killed in the war. In the Jabaliya refugee camp near Gaza City, people sat quietly by graves surrounded by buildings destroyed by Israel’s offensive, which was launched in response to the deadly Hamas attack on Oct. 7.

As misery in Gaza lingers, Israel has faced increasing pressure, including from its own top ally, the U.S., to change tack in the war, especially in regards to the delivery of humanitarian aid.

On Tuesday, U.S. President Joe Biden called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s handling of the war in Gaza a mistake and urged his government to flood the beleaguered territory with aid. He repeated that call again Wednesday, saying the efforts to boost aid were “not enough” and demanding another entry point for trucks in northern Gaza.

After months of supporting the war against Hamas, the White House has ramped up pressure on Israel to reach a cease-fire and taken a sterner line that has rattled the countries’ decades-old alliance and deepened Israel’s international isolation over the war.

The most serious disagreement has been over Israel’s plans for an offensive in Rafah. The rift was worsened by an Israeli airstrike last week on an aid convoy that killed seven workers with the World Central Kitchen charity, most of them foreigners. Israel said the deaths were unintentional, but Biden was outraged.

Biden’s latest comments highlight the differences between Israel and the U.S. over humanitarian aid to people in Gaza, where the war has led to warnings of imminent famine for more than a million people.

Israel halted aid deliveries to Gaza in the early days of the war, but under U.S. pressure has slowly increased the number of trucks allowed to enter the territory.

Still, aid groups say supplies are not reaching desperate people quickly enough, blaming Israeli restrictions and noting that thousands of trucks are waiting to enter Gaza.

The war has ignited a humanitarian catastrophe. Most of the territory’s population has been displaced and with vast swaths of Gaza’s urban landscape leveled in the fighting, many areas are uninhabitable.


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