Israel Focuses on Gaza’s South as Cease-Fire Talks Rejected

(Bloomberg) -- Israel’s military increased airstrikes on Hamas targets in southern Gaza, a widening front in the war, as each side ruled out further talks toward a renewed cease-fire.

Israel pulled its negotiating team from Qatar, denting hopes that a seven-day cease-fire, accompanied by exchanges of hostages and prisoners, would be extended. Saleh al-Arouri, a senior Hamas official, said on Saturday there would be “no hostage exchanges until the end of the war.”

Israel said it struck 400 “terrorist targets” in Gaza, including 50 in the area of Khan Younis, the southern city where Israel believes that top Hamas leaders are now hiding. Many nations, including allies like the US, are warning Israel not to use the overwhelming force in the south as it did in the north, where it leveled much of Gaza City and thousands of Gazans were killed.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu suggested a significant escalation is underway in the south as Israel seeks to destroy Hamas, the stated objective of the war.