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Fighting Continues Between Israel, Hamas After Biden Calls For Cease-Fire

Palestinians look at an unexploded bomb dropped by an Israeli F-16 warplane on Gaza City's Rimal neighbourhood on Tuesday.
Palestinians look at an unexploded bomb dropped by an Israeli F-16 warplane on Gaza City's Rimal neighbourhood on Tuesday.

JERUSALEM — Fighting between Israel and Hamas entered its ninth straight day despite a call by President Joe Biden for a cease-fire.

Israeli warplanes carried out another round of airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza, leveling a six-story building, while militants fired dozens of rockets into Israel.

Health officials in Gaza say more than 200 people have been killed and there are severe shortages of water and electricity. People are still trying to dig out from a number of heavy Israeli airstrikes over the past few days aimed at demolishing Hamas infrastructure, including a network of tunnels used by Hamas to shuttle weapons, equipment and people.

Small businesses and roads have also been targeted, leading to concerns this could have a serious impact on Gaza's economy and in getting humanitarian aid to the area.

Palestinian leaders in Gaza, the occupied West Bank and parts of Israel are calling for a one-day general strike Tuesday to protest Israeli attacks in Gaza. Palestinian government offices, banks and business will be shut.

The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) say Hamas fired about 200 rockets into Israel on Monday, many of them close to the border between Israel and Gaza. The military says since the latest round of fighting started a week ago, more than 3,500 rockets have been launched into Israel, much more than in any previous conflict. At least 10 Israelis have been killed.

Biden spoke by phone with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. The White House issued a carefully-worded statement afterward saying that the president "expressed support for a ceasefire" to help end the fighting. However, he stopped short of demanding a halt in the fighting. Biden said that Israel has the right to defend itself, but encouraged it to "protect innocent civilians."

The wording of the statement is interpreted by some as giving too much room to Israel to keep up airstrikes that have caused widespread destruction in Gaza.

Netanyahu held a meeting Monday with defense and intelligence chiefs, saying afterwards that his directive is to continue striking at "terrorist targets."

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.