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Netanyahu pressed on 2-state solution for Israel-Hamas war as southern Gaza hit with relentless shelling

U.S., U.K. conduct new strikes on Houthis in Yemen
U.S., U.K. conduct new strikes on Houthi militias in Yemen 02:06

Editor's note: This article includes an image of a dead child which some readers may find disturbing.

Gaza Strip — Gazans sheltered Monday from intense bombing and shooting in the city of Khan Younis, as pressure built on Israel for an eventual two-state solution involving statehood long sought by Palestinians. Witnesses reported deadly strikes and fierce fighting between Israeli soldiers and Hamas militants overnight in the southern city which has become the latest epicenter of the war.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza reported on Monday that more than 120 people had been killed in the previous 24 hours.

"Artillery shelling has not stopped since 5:00 am," said Yunis Abdel Razek, 52, sheltering with his family at the city's Al-Aqsa University.

A Palestinian woman reacts at the grave of her son killed in an Israeli strike, in Khan Younis
A Palestinian woman reacts at the grave of her son, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, Jan. 18, 2024. STAFF/REUTERS

Mahdi Antar, 21, had sought refuge at Al-Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. "The situation is terrifying. Tonight and today are very difficult, bombing and shooting. I do not know what to do. I think they will storm the hospital," he said.

Victims of the latest Israeli strikes were brought to the hospital, at least one on a hand-pulled cart.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli forces were "besieging" their ambulance center "and targeting anyone attempting to move in the area."

At one building that had been hit, men walked over broken concrete with only flashlights casting a dusty light to help them search in the darkness for survivors.

Netanyahu defies U.S., rejects 2-state solution

The strikes came as European Union foreign ministers held meetings in Brussels with top diplomats from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and key Arab states. The 27 EU ministers first met Israel's Foreign Minister Israel Katz before sitting down separately with the Palestinian Authority's top diplomat, Riyad al-Maliki.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told Israel "peace and stability cannot be built only by military means."  

"Which are the other solutions they have in mind? To make all the Palestinians leave? To kill off them?" Borrell said.

Netanyahu rejects calls for drawdown in Gaza; Biden admits strikes on Houthis aren't working 03:56

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has drawn condemnation from the United Nations and defied the United States, which provides Israel with billions of dollars in military aid, by rejecting calls to enter negotiations on the creation of a Palestinian state. The U.S. government has long advocated the elusive two-state solution as the only way to defuse the long-standing conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

The Israeli leader reaffirmed and defended his rejection of the concept in a video statement broadcast Sunday evening, saying his "insistence is what has prevented, over the years, the establishment of a Palestinian state that would have constituted an existential danger to Israel. As long as I am prime minister, I will continue to strongly insist on this."

On Monday, Maliki demanded the EU call for an immediate cease-fire and urged the bloc to consider sanctions against Netanyahu for "destroying the chances for a two-state solution."

Israeli attacks on Gaza continue
The body of a Palestinian child killed in Israeli strikes is brought to the mortuary of the Al-Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, Jan. 22, 2024. Jehad Alshrafi/Anadolu/Getty

Jordan's Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said "the whole world" sees a two-state solution as "the only way out of this misery."

Katz told reporters he was in Brussels to discuss the need "to bring back our hostages and restore security for the citizens of Israel."

Hamas calls its terror attack a "defensive act"

The talks came a day after Hamas issued a 16-page report, in Arabic and English, explaining the background to the group's unprecedented Oct. 7 terror attack on southern Israel, which sparked the current war.

Hamas, long designated a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union, called the attacks a "defensive act" and "necessary step" against Israeli occupation, "reclaiming the Palestinian rights and on the way for liberation and independence like all peoples."

Israeli officials say Hamas militants killed some 1,200 people in southern Israel, mostly civilians, and seized about 240 others as hostages. About half have been freed, but some 132 people are still believed to be held captive in Gaza by Hamas or other groups.

In response, Israel has carried out a relentless offensive that has killed at least 25,295 people in Gaza, around 70% of them women and children, according to the latest toll issued by Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry.

Hostage families storm Israeli government meeting

U.S. intelligence agencies estimate that the Israeli offensive has killed 20% to 30% of the Hamas fighters in Gaza, and is still far from its stated goal of destroying the group entirely, the Wall Street Journal reported Sunday.

In a video statement issued after the Hamas report, Netanyahu said Israel's soldiers would "have fallen in vain" and security would not be guaranteed if his government were to accept Hamas' demands for the release of the remaining hostages. Those include ending the war immediately, withdrawing Israeli forces from Gaza, releasing Palestinian prisoners and guaranteeing that Hamas remains in power, Netanyahu said.

The Israeli leader is under intense pressure to return the captives and account for security failings surrounding the Oct. 7 attacks.

Relatives and supporters of the captives have held regular rallies and on Monday upped the pressure by storming a parliamentary finance committee meeting, where they shouted and brandished signs.

"Shame on you!" shouted one of the protesters at the Israel lawmakers. "They are your brothers as well. Get up!"

israel-knesset-hostages-protest.jpg
A screengrab from video aired by the official Knesset Channel of Israel's parliament shows relatives and supporters of hostages held in Gaza confronting lawmakers after storming a finance committee meeting on Jan. 22, 2024. Reuters/Knesset Channel

"Yesterday the prime minister comes up and says there won't be a deal? On the back of whom will there not be a deal? What right does he have not to negotiate a deal?" demanded another.

In a bid to secure a new hostage exchange deal, U.S. officials confirmed to CBS News that White House coordinator for the Middle East Brett McGurk was traveling to the region Monday to meet top officials in Cairo, followed by a trip to Qatar. The three countries helped broker a one-week truce in late November that saw 80 hostages freed in exchange for 240 Palestinian prisoners in Israel.

Rising tensions and violence across the Middle East  i—nvolving Iran-backed groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen - have stoked fears of a wider conflagration.

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