Israel’s government faced calls for a cease-fire from some of its closest European allies and from protesters at home on Sunday after a series of shootings, including of three hostages who waved a white flag, added to mounting concerns about its conduct in the 10-week-old war in Gaza.
The protesters urge the government to renew hostage negotiations with Gaza’s Hamas rulers, whom it has vowed to destroy. Israel could also face pressure to scale back major combat operations when U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visits Monday. Washington is expressing growing unease with civilian casualties even while as it provides vital military and diplomatic support.
The air and ground war has flattened large parts of northern Gaza, killed thousands of civilians and driven most of the population to the southern part of the besieged territory, where many are packed into crowded shelters and tent camps. Some 1.9 million Palestinians — nearly 85 percent of Gaza’s population — have fled their homes. [Continue reading…]