The Israel-Hamas war raging in Gaza entered its fourth month on Sunday as the army again pounded the besieged Palestinian territory and US top diplomat Antony Blinken was back in the region seeking to avoid a wider escalation.
Israeli airstrikes overnight and early on Sunday killed at least 113 people in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory, said its health ministry.
It said two journalists were killed when their car was struck. The ministry, medics and witnesses identified them as Mustafa Thuria, a video stringer for Agence France-Presse, and Hamza Wael Dahdouh, the son of Al Jazeera’s bureau chief in Gaza, who earlier lost his wife and two other children in an Israeli strike.
Israeli bombardment also claimed other civilian lives in the southern city of Khan Yunis and in the Rafah area near the Egyptian border, where many of the territory’s displaced people have sought refuge.
Relatives were mourning the dead at Khan Yunis’ European Hospital, among them Mohamed Awad, who wept over the body of a 12-year-old boy and listed other family members killed. “My brother, his wife, his children, his relatives and the brothers of his wife, there are more than 20 martyrs,” he said.
The Israeli army – which said on Saturday that it had “dismantled” Hamas’s military leadership in northern Gaza – reported that its forces had killed more “terrorists” in central Gaza, including in a drone strike in the Bureij refugee camp, a built-up urban area.
The military added that it had disabled dozens of rocket launchers at a compound in northern Gaza’s Beit Lahia area, from where Palestinian militants have been targeting communities in southern Israel.
During the Gaza war, violence has also flared between Israel and Lebanon’s Iran-backed armed group Hezbollah, which have traded almost daily cross-border fire since the war started.
A recent flareup in tensions and border hostilities had sparked “real concern”, the US Secretary of State said ahead of a Jordan visit on Sunday.
“We want to do everything possible to make sure that we don’t see escalation there,” Blinken said on his fourth trip to the Middle East since the October 7 Hamas attacks that began the war. Blinken warned of the need to end an “endless cycle of violence”.
Deadly violence also flared again in the occupied West Bank, where bloodshed has surged to levels unseen in nearly two decades.
An early morning Israeli strike in Jenin killed six Palestinians, while an Israeli border police officer died when a roadside bomb hit her vehicle on Sunday, sources on both sides said.
The army later reported an Israeli civilian was shot dead near the West Bank city of Ramallah, and that police were searching for the attacker.
The war in Gaza was triggered by an unprecedented attack on Israel by Hamas on October 7, which resulted in the deaths of around 1 140 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.
The militants also took around 250 hostages, 132 of whom remain in captivity, according to Israel. At least 24 are believed to have been killed.
In response, Israel is carrying out a relentless bombardment and ground invasion that have killed at least 22 722 people, most of them women and children, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed again that Israel would continue its campaign to “eliminate Hamas, return our hostages and ensure that Gaza will no longer be a threat to Israel”.
Families and friends of the hostages again rallied in Tel Aviv late Saturday, demanding steps leading to their release but many also voicing anger at his government.
On Israel’s tense northern border with Lebanon, Hezbollah on Saturday said that it had fired 62 rockets at an Israeli military base, days after a strike in Beirut killed Hamas deputy leader Saleh al-Aruri.
A US Defense Department official said that Israel carried out the strike that killed Aruri.
The Israeli military said it had struck Hezbollah “military sites” in response to the rocket barrage, while army spokesperson Daniel Hagari warned the Shiite Muslim armed group against “dragging Lebanon into an unnecessary war”.
Blinken held talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II before heading to Qatar and Abu Dhabi.