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Israel launched a new military campaign against Hamas in central Gaza Wednesday, an offensive that comes ahead of crucial ceasefire talks, as well as ongoing international pressure on Israel over its actions in the Palestinian enclave, Reuters reported.

The offensive, aimed at eliminating Hamas, has involved ground and air operations in areas such as Al-Bureij and Deir Al-Balah. Palestinian medics had reported at least 44 were killed in Israeli strikes since Tuesday, with dozens more reported dead following an overnight strike on a United Nations-run school in the Nuseirat refugee camp.

The recent military action comes amid hopes for a ceasefire between Hamas and Israel in a war that began on Oct. 7, when Hamas and its allies launched an attack from Gaza that killed around 1,200 people and saw more than 240 people taken hostage.

Afterward, Israel launched a military offensive in the territory that has created a humanitarian crisis and resulted in the death of more than 36,000 people, according to Palestinian health authorities.

Talks mediated by the US, Egypt and Qatar are focusing on a proposed ceasefire deal that includes the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas and some Palestinian prisoners in Israel. However, Hamas has insisted on a permanent truce and a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, conditions that Israel has so far rejected.

Amid ongoing negotiations, the US House of Representatives passed a bill to sanction the International Criminal Court (ICC) following its decision to seek arrest warrants for Hamas and Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, over alleged war crimes in Gaza. The bill aims to revoke US visas for ICC officials and block their entry into the country, CBS News wrote.

Meanwhile, international pressure over Israel’s campaign in Gaza continued to mount this week in the Muslim world. For example, the Maldives announced a ban on Israeli passport holders entering the country, the Guardian said. The archipelago’s decision aligns with broader actions against Israel, including economic and academic boycotts.

Turkey banned the import and export of goods to and from Israel, leading to significant shortages. Israel – which relies on Turkey for 40 percent of its concrete – now must purchase more expensive European concrete, observers said.

Also this week, Slovenia’s parliament voted to recognize a Palestinian state, joining a growing list of countries that have taken similar steps, according to the Associated Press.

The European Union member state framed the vote as a message of hope and a push for a two-state solution in the Middle East. Slovenia’s move follows similar recognition by Spain, Norway and Ireland.

Meanwhile, a Palestinian state is not mentioned in the ceasefire deal.

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