Israel's army pressed on Sunday through in southern Gaza as prospects dimmed for a cease-fire, with Israeli war cabinet member Benny Gantz stating that Israeli forces will launch its long-threatened offensive through Rafah next month if Hamas doesn't free the remaining hostages by the beginning of Ramadan.

A total of 127 people died in 24 hours, Hamas-run Gaza's health ministry said, as the main battlefront edged closer to far-southern Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians live in crowded shelters and tent camps.

Israel's top ally the United States signaled it would veto the latest push for a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding an immediate cease-fire, as Washington instead favors a temporary truce and hostage release deal.