Monday, December 4, 2023

Israel-Palestine conflict: 330,000 people have been displaced in Gaza

Palestinian group, Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, has announced the start of military the operation Al-Aqsa Flood against Israel. Thousands of rockets have been fired from the blockaded enclave towards the occupied territories as far away as Tel Aviv, killing over 1,300 Israelis, including both military and settlers. More than 1,400 Palestinians have been so far killed in an exchange of fire between the two sides.

Pentagon chief to visit Israel

Between 30 and 40% of those wounded in airstrikes on Gaza are children

Children make up “between 30 and 40% of the wounded” in Israel’s recent airstrikes on Gaza, British-Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu-Sittah told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday.

Speaking from Al Awda Hospital in Gaza, Abu-Sittah said “the overwhelming majority of the wounded are coming from the rubble of their own home.”

Children and other patients come in with wounds from “the blast, shrapnel, masonry that flies in and damages their bodies, or they are crushed under the rubble of their own home,” the surgeon said.

“All of these injuries are extremely contaminated and require surgeries and repeated surgeries,” he said, adding, “the devastating thing is, with children, this is a lifetime worth of reconstructive surgery.”

“As that body — that scarred body — tries to grow in the future, these kids will need surgery after surgery, as we have seen with the kids in Gaza’s previous wars — or in Syria, or in Yemen, or anywhere where children are hurt.”

“This has completely overwhelmed the health system, which was already on its knees at the end of 15 years of siege,” Abu-Sittah said, referring to Israel’s tight control over the occupied territory’s flow of goods, and its strict land, sea and air blockade.

“We are down on consumables, on the very material that you need to be able to treat patients,” he said.

Abu-Sittah traveled from London to Gaza on Sunday, saying that “as a Palestinian, I am driven to continuously come back and help my people here who are under continuous attack.”

12 United Nations relief workers have been killed in Gaza: UN

At least 12 people working with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) have been killed in Gaza since Saturday, a spokesperson for the UN’s secretary-general said Thursday, as the humanitarian crisis there deepens.

All 12 of the UN workers killed were Palestinians, the spokesperson, Stéphane Dujarric, stated while speaking to reporters in New York Thursday.

Hundreds of thousands displaced: Dujarric said mass displacement continues to rise across the Gaza Strip as Israel pounds the territory with airstrikes, climbing 30% over the last 24 hours to reach more than 338,000. Of that figure, two-thirds are taking shelter in 92 schools run by the UNRWA.

More than 2,500 housing units in Gaza have been destroyed or severely damaged and rendered uninhabitable, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) announced in an update Thursday. Another 23,000 have sustained moderate to minor damage.

“At least 88 education facilities have been struck, including 18 UNRWA schools, two of which were being used as emergency shelters for displaced people, as well as 70 Palestinian Authority schools. This means that for the sixth consecutive day, more than 600,000 children have had no access to education at a safe place in Gaza,” Dujarric added.

Water, fuel and food: Dujarric also warned of a “looming” water crisis “across the Gaza Strip due to damaged infrastructure, lack of electricity needed to operate pumps and desalination plants, as well as limited supply of water in local markets,” Dujarric continued.

“Water supplies cannot be replenished due to the total blockade of the Strip by Israeli authorities, fuel cannot be brought in, and Israeli water suppliers are no longer delivering water to Gaza.”

OCHA said Thursday that “seven significant water and sewage facilities serving more than one million people have been hit by airstrikes and severely damaged” since the conflict erupted. “In some areas, sewage and solid waste are now accumulating in the streets, posing a health hazard.”

Half of the bakeries have less than a week’s supply of wheat flour, OCHA said, while 70 percent of shops report significantly decreased food stocks.

Reading from the OCHA update, Dujarric added:

“Humanitarian agencies continue to face major constraints in providing humanitarian assistance. The insecurity is preventing safe access to impacted areas and warehouses. Despite the challenging conditions, humanitarian workers have provided some assistance, including the distribution of fresh bread to 137,000 displaced people, the delivery of 70,000 liters of fuel to water and sanitation facilities, and the activation of psychosocial support helplines.”

Blinken to discuss prisoner release with regional partners

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday that he would travel to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates as part of a tour to discuss the situation in Israel and the Gaza Strip, as he accused Hamas of using human shields.

“The United States will discuss with countries in the region the unconditional release of Hamas prisoners,” he told reporters.

Blinken announced these steps during a press conference in Tel Aviv, during which he was also asked about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.

“Hamas continues to use civilians as human shields…intentionally putting civilians in harms way,” he stated.

“We democracies distinguish ourselves from terrorists by striving for a different standard – even when it’s difficult – and holding ourselves to account when we fall short. That’s why it’s so important to take every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.”

Doctors Without Borders: ‘Collective punishment of Gaza must stop’

Humanitarian organisation, Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), also known as Doctors Without Borders, have demanded the establishment of safe spaces and safe passages for people to reach them as a matter of urgency.

Highlighting Israel’s siege on Gaza, they said “people must be afforded safe access to essential supplies like food and water and health facilities,” as people in Gaza go six days with no access to basic essentials.

“Some 2.2 million people are currently trapped in the Gaza strip, where indiscriminate bombing has turned a chronic humanitarian crisis into a catastrophe. More than 300 MSF staff are in Gaza, some of whom have lost homes or family members; it has been near-impossible for them to move,” they added.

MSF have called the cutting of food, water and electricity in Gaza “unconscionable,” calling it a form of “collective punishment.”

Amnesty condemns Palestinian groups for attacking Israeli civilians, abductions

Human rights group Amnesty International has condemned Palestinian armed groups for tactics used in their offensive on southern Israel on Saturday, which has killed at least 1,300 Israelis so far.

The rights group announced Palestinian armed groups, including Hamas, had engaged in mass killings of civilians, hostage taking and indiscriminate rocket fire.

“Massacring civilians is a war crime and there can be no justification for these reprehensible attacks,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s Secretary General.

“All civilians who were abducted, including children, must be released immediately.” She added.

Callamard singled out the assault on the Nova music festival, which was held close to Gaza, as particularly egregious.

Amnesty noted the attacks must be seen “in the wider context of the situation in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories” but that “nothing justifies war crimes”.

Gaza: 14 Health facilities destroyed in Israeli bombing

Palestine’s Ministry of Health says that 14 medical facilities have been destroyed in Israel’s bombardment of Gaza since Saturday.

The Beit Hanoun Hospital has stopped operating completley, following ongoing airstrikes on the besieged enclave, which has targeted civilian infrastructure.

Many ambulances have also been targeted in the attacks, making it difficult for medical personnel to reach victims.

Egypt: Gazans must ‘remain on their land’

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has stated Gazans must “stay steadfast and remain on their land” amid calls for Cairo to allow safe passage for civilians out of the besieged enclave.

Egypt has the only border crossing with Gaza not controlled by Israel and has been a key mediator in Israel-Gaza escalations in the past.

UNRWA sheltering 270,000 in Gaza with supplies running low

No plans to put US troops on ground in Israel: White House

27 Americans have died in Israel: White House

The number of Americans who have died after the Hamas terror attack in Israel now stands at 27, according to the White House.

Meanwhile, 14 Americans are missing, confirmed National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby.

The US government still doesn’t have any details on the condition of American hostages in Hamas custody, Kirby stated. But he added that the number of US hostages is still believed to be less than a handful.

Israeli Knesset approves emergency government

Lebanon PM tells factions to steer clear of ‘Israel’s plans’

UK to send warships and surveillance aircraft to eastern Mediterranean to support Israel

France bans pro-Palestinian protests

Israel says 3,600 targets hit in Gaza since Saturday

Israel army chief admits failure in preventing Hamas attack

Abbas meets Jordan’s king, renounces killing of civilians

Gaza could run out of fuel in a few hours: International Committee of the Red Cross

Gaza likely only has enough fuel for a few more hours and it is needed to power generators for hospitals, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned on Thursday.

“What’s certain, is that if we can’t get supplies in and if we can’t distribute what we have inside Gaza, I wanted to say we are going toward a catastrophe, but we are already in the catastrophe, but here, we are going well beyond that and the humanitarian situation will become unmanageable,” said Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC regional director for the Middle East.

He told reporters during a briefing in Geneva that the team’s capacity to move safely is greatly challenged in the current conditions.

“When it comes to our supplies, we still have supply in Gaza, the problem is that we can’t move. We have fuel, we have chlorine for essential water infrastructure, we still have medical supplies, the challenge we face is our capacity to move safely in Gaza. You probably follow what happened to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society ambulance who was hit and three of our colleagues, three of the volunteers of the PRCS (Palestine Red Crescent Society) were killed. So, very dire situation within Gaza,” Carboni added.

As the situation unfolds, the ICRC is preparing “for the worst.”

“What we have seen since Saturday is quite awful. You know, even in humanitarian standards, the level of violence, the disrespect for human dignity, basic principle of humanity is quite shocking and it continues,” he stated.

Israel says it dropped 6,000 bombs weighing 4,000 tons on Gaza

Humanitarian situation in Gaza is “dire” with food and water in limited supply: UN agency

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is “dire,” with food and water in limited supply and “quickly running out,” the deputy head of emergencies of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) Brian Lander said Thursday.

The UN agency is on the ground and is “responding and we’re providing food to thousands of people that have sought shelter in schools and elsewhere across the territory. But we’re going to run out very soon,” Lander warned.

“We don’t have access to the Gaza Strip that’s been closed down. We’re looking to ensure that we can have means to deliver to these people as the crisis evolves,” Lander added.

Lander said that WFP is “very worried” about how the situation will evolve, particularly if the humanitarian situation is not addressed.

“The people that are seeking shelter and striving to survive in this environment are only going to get worse and worse situations as time goes on. And I think our concern is that unless we’re able to access those communities, the people that are in need, the civilian population, there’s going to be an extreme situation for them, both in terms of having the food to survive, the water to survive and the other services even shelter over their heads,” he added.

Lander stated WFP is calling on the parties “to abide by international humanitarian law to allow for those supplies to be brought to the communities that are in need.”

Death toll in Gaza rises to 1,417: Palestinian health ministry

At least 1,417 Palestinians, including 447 children and 248 women, have been killed since Israel started strikes on Gaza following the deadly Hamas attack last Saturday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

An additional 6,268 people have been injured, the Palestinian Health Ministry added.

EU repeats call for Gaza’s right to food, water and medicine under international humanitarian law

The European Union on Thursday reiterated it stands in solidarity with Israel, while again calling for the right of Gaza to “access food, water and medicines, according to international humanitarian law.”

“It is very important that one cannot forget that Israel has the right to defend itself. But of course, it needs to do it in line with international law, including international humanitarian law,” EU Commission spokesperson Peter Stano said Thursday during a news briefing.

“This is very clear position of the European Union that is being repeated, both publicly and in our interactions with partners in the region and on the ground.”

The bloc is working with international partners to make sure that the hostages are released as soon as possible, Stano added, noting that the taking of hostages, “and the way in which Hamas did it, is … not only against international norm, but against any civilized norm.”

The EU also called for an end to the violence. “Unspeakable atrocities” had been committed against Israelis, Stano said, adding, “What we are witnessing in Gaza is a direct consequence of what Hamas started on Saturday.”

At least 25 Americans killed in Israel

The American death toll in Israel has risen to at least 25 people, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated Thursday.

“Tragically, the number of innocent lives claimed by Hamas’ heinous attacks continues to rise. Among those, we now know that at least 25 American citizens were killed,” Blinken said in Tel Aviv.

On Wednesday, the State Department confirmed the deaths of at least 22 Americans.

12 French citizens killed in Hamas attack and 17 missing: Foreign ministry

Twelve French citizens were killed in the Hamas attacks on Israel while 17 others are still missing, a French Foreign Ministry spokesperson told journalists Thursday, according to BFMTV.

There is “no news of 17 citizens whose disappearance is considered extremely worrying,” ministry spokesperson Anne-Claire Legendre said, per BFMTV.

Additionally, France’s foreign minister is set to meet the first evacuation flight from Israel when it arrives in Paris later Thursday.

The foreign ministry previously announced it would evacuate more French nationals on flights planned for Friday and Saturday, with priority given to unaccompanied children, pregnant women, people with disabilities and those with medical emergencies.

Israeli attacks target Syria’s two main airports

The airports in Damascus and Aleppo are out of service following the Israeli strikes, Syria’s state television reported.

It said there had been damage but no casualties at the Aleppo airport but did not give any information about the situation in Damascus.

The attacks come hours after Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi spoke to Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad and called on Arab and Islamic countries to confront Israel.

UN condemns attacks on civilians in Israel and Gaza

The United Nations has “unequivocally condemned” attacks on civilians in Israel and Gaza, and also Israel’s “further tightening of the unlawful blockade,” in a statement released Thursday.

The killings and hostage-taking by Hamas “constitute heinous violations of international law and international crimes, for which there must be urgent accountability”, the statement read.

There is no justification for such violence in Israel or Gaza, the statement added.

The UN also focused on the plight of Palestinians in Gaza.

“We also strongly condemn Israel’s indiscriminate military attacks against the already exhausted Palestinian people of Gaza, comprising over 2.3 million people, nearly half of whom are children. They have lived under unlawful blockade for 16 years, and already gone through five major brutal wars, which remain unaccounted for.”

“This amounts to collective punishment.”

The experts also warned the withholding of essential supplies, such as food, water and medicine, will “precipitate a severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza, where its population is now at inescapable risk of starvation”. They called for the establishment of humanitarian corridors to allow people to leave Gaza.

The UN urged the international community to “address the root causes of the current conflict, including the 56-year-old occupation and the annexation pursued by Israel”.

Blinken pledges US support for Israel will never falter as he likens Hamas’ crimes to Daesh

The United States will never falter from its support for Israel, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday, adding Hamas’ “litany of brutality and inhumanity” evoked “the worst of Daesh.”

“The message that I bring to Israel is this: you may be strong enough on your own to defend yourself, but as long as America exists, you will never, ever have to,” Blinken said while speaking alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv.

“We will always be there by your side.”

Although the top US diplomat did not explicitly speak of restraint, Blinken stated he discussed with Netanyahu the importance of taking “every possible precaution to avoid harming civilians.”

“No country can or would tolerate the slaughter of its citizens or simply return to the conditions that allowed it to take place. Israel has the right, indeed the obligation, to defend itself and to ensure that this never happens again,” Blinken added.

But he also reiterated that respect for civilian life is what distinguishes democracies from the likes of Hamas, saying, “As the Prime Minister and I discussed, how Israel does this matters.”

Blinken also stressed that Hamas does not represent the Palestinian people.

The US is “supplying ammunition, interceptors to replenish Israel’s Iron Dome, alongside other defense material,” Blinken said, noting that the “first shipments of US military support have already arrived in Israel and more is on the way.”

“As Israel’s defense needs evolve, we will work with Congress to make sure that they’re met. And I can tell you, there is overwhelming, overwhelming bipartisan support in our Congress for Israel’s security.”

Blinken echoed “the crystal clear warning” from President Joe Biden “to any adversary — state or non-state — thinking of taking advantage of the current crisis to attack Israel: Don’t.”

“We continue working closely with Israel to secure the release of the men, women, children, elderly people, taken hostage by Hamas. We’re pursuing intensive diplomacy throughout the region to prevent the conflict from spreading, and I’ll be doing that over the course of my trip in the coming days,” stated Blinken.

Netanyahu thanks US for support and says Hamas “should be spat out from the community of nations”

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the United States for its “incredible support for Israel” at a joint news conference with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv on Thursday, in Tel Aviv’s “war against the barbarians of Hamas.”

Blinken’s visit, Netanyahu added, was “another tangible example of America’s unequivocal support for Israel.”

Hamas should be “crushed”, Netanyahu said.

“Hamas is Daesh, and just as Daesh was crushed, so too will Hamas be crushed and Hamas should be treated exactly the way Daesh was treated,” Netanyahu added.

“They should be spat out from the community of nations. No leader should meet with them, no country should harbor them. And those that do should be sanctioned.”

Collapse of Gaza health system has begun: Officials

The health ministry in Gaza has issued its latest update warning that the healthcare system “has begun to truly collapse”.

It announced that there were no other intensive-care beds available and the number of wounded people exceeded the capacity of operation rooms.

“The number of injured people is greater than the hospitals’ clinical capabilities, even after they were expanded and the injured were placed in the corridors.”

Gaza medics say Israel targeting ambulances, health facilities

Talal Taha, a paramedic at Gaza’s Shifa Hospital, described to Al Jazeera how he and his three colleagues came under Israeli attacks as they were on the way to help injured Palestinians.

“We were targeted [by an air attack] and we ran for safety,” Taha said.

The emergency team jumped into their cars and the vehicles proceeded a few metres before another air strike hit. Three of his colleagues were killed and Taha was wounded.

“Our mission is humanitarian, we provide humanitarian service only, and we were targeted without any reason, without any excuse,” he added.

It was not a one-off incident. Health authorities and medical organisations in the Gaza Strip have accused Israel of deliberately bombing ambulances and health facilities in the besieged enclave, in breach of international rules that catalogue such attacks as war crimes.

“Israel does not stand alone”: NATO chief

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said “Israel does not stand alone”, as the alliance pledged support to Israel during the second day of the meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels.

Israel defense minister Yoav Gallant briefed his NATO counterparts via a video call “on the atrocities by Hamas perpetrated against Israeli civilians and the nationals of several NATO allies”, NATO said in a press release.

Stoltenberg stated the alliance condemned the terrorist attacks in the strongest possible terms.

NATO allies “expressed solidarity with Israel, making clear that it has the right to defend itself with proportionality against these unjustifiable acts of terror” and called for Hamas to “immediately” release all hostages, the statement added.

“No nation or organization should seek to take advantage of the situation or to escalate it,” it warned.

NATO defense ministers are meeting for talks at the alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, where they have discussed the situation in Israel as well as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Gaza death toll climbs to 1,354

At least 1,354 people have been killed and a further 6,049 injured in Israeli strikes on Gaza since Saturday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Earlier Thursday, the Israel Defense Forces announced it is “conducting a large-scale strike” on Hamas targets in Gaza as the conflict entered a sixth day.

A humanitarian crisis is rapidly spiraling in the coastal enclave.

Egypt’s Rafah crossing remains open: Foreign ministry

Egypt’s Rafah border crossing with Gaza remains open, its foreign ministry has said, adding that “repeated Israeli bombing” on the Palestinian side prevented it from being operational.

“Contrary to the inaccurate information being circulated… the Rafah border crossing is open for business and has not been closed at any stage since the beginning of the current crisis except that its basic facilities on the Palestinian side were destroyed,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The repeated Israeli bombing prevent officials from carrying out the work normally,” it added.

Egypt has also asked Israel to avoid targeting the Palestinian side of the crossing following Israeli bombing that prevented normal operations.

Israel’s president says it is abiding by international law

President Isaac Herzog said Israel is abiding by international law, in response to a question about whether Tel Aviv is upholding the laws of warfare.

“I’m quite disappointed that that’s what you’re asking instantaneously. Haven’t you seen? You’ve seen, you were all there. So now we’re starting with the rhetoric about war crimes really?” Herzog said.

“Israel abides by international law, operates by international law. Every operation is secured and covered and reviewed legally with all due respect,” Herzog added.

Accusations of war crimes come “totally out of context”, he continued.

Israel has been accused of inflicting collective punishment on Palestinians as it has subjected Gaza to intense bombardment. Collective punishment is a war crime.

Official says Israel cannot confirm babies were beheaded in Hamas attack

The Israeli government has not confirmed the specific claim that Hamas attackers cut off the heads of babies during their shock attack on Saturday, an Israeli official told CNN, contradicting a previous public statement.

“There have been cases of Hamas militants carrying out beheadings and other ISIS-style atrocities. However, we cannot confirm if the victims were men or women, soldiers or civilians, adults or children,” the official said.

The explosive allegations that children had been decapitated at the kibbutz of Kfar Aza emerged Tuesday in Israeli media. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) later described the scene as a “massacre”. Women, children toddlers and the elderly were “brutally butchered in an ISIS way of action”, the IDF added.

Tal Heinrich, a spokeswoman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said on Wednesday that babies and toddlers had been found with their “heads decapitated” in Kfar Aza.

An IDF spokesman later in the day also stated that terrorists had cut off the heads of children.

“We know that there were dead babies. There is evidence that there was decapitation. I don’t know how to verify numbers or how they were killed,” IDF spokesman Nir Dar added.

Gaza health system on brink of collapse: Palestinian official

The health infrastructure in Gaza is close to breaking point, Dr. Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza, said Thursday.

Al-Qudra raised alarm about the state of intensive care units, saying “even after expansion, all beds are occupied, leaving no room for new patients in critical condition.”

The surge in the number of injured individuals now exceeds the capacity of the operating rooms available, he added.

Israel says no electricity, water or fuel to Gaza until Hamas returns hostages

Gaza will not be provided with any electricity, water or fuel until Israeli hostages being held by Hamas are returned home, Israeli energy minister Israel Katz said Thursday.

“No electrical switch will be turned on, no water hydrant will be opened, and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli abductees are returned home. Humanitarian for humanitarian. And no one will preach us morals,” Katz wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

During the onslaught on Saturday, Hamas fighters poured over the heavily-fortified border into Israel and took as many as 150 hostages, including Israeli army officers, back to Gaza.

Hamas warned that it would start executing hostages if Israel targeted people in Gaza without warning.

Blinken arrives in Tel Aviv for meetings with Israeli, Palestinian officials

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken landed in Tel Aviv Thursday, where he will meet with Israeli officials.

He is also scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Before departing for Israel, Blinken told reporters discussions about a humanitarian corridor to allow civilians to leave Gaza via Egypt are “ongoing”.

The situation was “understandably complicated”, he said.

Red Cross: Three of five water plants no longer working in Gaza

The International Committee of Red Cross has warned that three of five water plants in Gaza are now out of service after Israel cut off water supplies to the besieged enclave.

Concerns have been raised that the lack of water in the enclave will result in the spread of disease.

Some Palestinian families have said they have gone five days with no water.

Gaza hospitals “risk turning into morgues”: Red Cross

Hospitals in Gaza “risk turning into morgues” as they lose power during Israel’s bombardment of the enclave, the International Committee of the Red Cross warned on Thursday.

A humanitarian crisis is rapidly spiraling in Gaza, where aid agencies and health officials report hundreds of thousands have been displaced amid shortages of food, water and electricity — putting extra strain on medical facilities.

“As Gaza loses power, hospitals lose power, putting newborns in incubators and elderly patients on oxygen at risk,” ICRC regional director for the Near and Middle East, Fabrizio Carboni, stated.

Over 330,000 people have been displaced in Gaza since Israel began its bombardment: UN

More than 330,000 people have been displaced in Gaza since Israel began its bombardment of the strip, according to a statement by the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) early Thursday (local time).

“The cumulative number of displaced people increased by 30 percent over the past 24 hours, now totaling 338,934, of whom over two thirds are taking shelter in UNRWA schools,” the statement read.

OCHA further expressed its concerns over the damage of civilian infrastructure in Gaza. Israel began a blockade of the densely populated enclave, cutting electricity, fuel, and water supplies.

Israeli army says it identified 97 captives

Israel’s top military spokesperson said the army was able to confirm the identities of 97 people taken captive by Hamas.

Speaking in a televised press briefing, Daniel Hagari also stated the offensive Israel launched on Gaza was meant to eliminate the ability of Hamas to govern.

“The military is preparing for the next stage of the war,” he contineud, adding that 222 soldiers died since the start of the war.

Biden administration official clarifies president, admin have not seen pictures or verified reports of children beheaded by Hamas

After President Joe Biden’s remarks, an administration official told CNN neither Biden nor the administration have seen pictures or confirmed reports of children or infants beheaded by Hamas.

The official clarified that the president’s remarks were referring to public comments from media outlets and Israeli officials.

Biden, speaking from the Indian Treaty Room Wednesday, told Jewish leaders, “It matters that Americans see what’s happening — I mean, I have been doing this a long time, I never really thought that I would see, have confirmed pictures of terrorists beheading children.”

A spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that babies and toddlers were found “decapitated” in Kfar Aza, Tal Heinrich.

Hamas announced media reports about attacking children were false.

Senior Hamas official says it’s too early to exchange Israeli hostages

Izzat al-Risheq, a senior Hamas official, told CNN Wednesday that it’s too early to exchange Israeli hostages while Israel continues to strike Gaza.

“We will only discuss this issue when the Israeli aggression against our people ends,” al-Risheq said from Doha, Qatar.

He also denied Hamas had any help from Iran or Lebanon’s Hezbollah in executing or planning Hamas’ large-scale surprise assault on Israel.

“I say it very clearly that this operation was a 100 percent Hamas operation without any help from any regional party,” al-Risheq added.

Hamas fighters are holding as many as 150 people hostage in locations across Gaza following their raids on southern Israel on Saturday, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations said Monday.

Abu Obaida, the spokesperson of Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades, stated Monday that Hamas would start executing civilian hostages if Israel targeted people in Gaza without warning.

Biden offers warning to Iran to “be careful” following Hamas military operation

US President Joe Biden has issued a stark warning to Iran to “be careful” around its actions in the region following Hamas attack on Israel.

During a roundtable roundtable with Jewish community leaders on the administration’s efforts to provide support for Israel, Biden stressed the assistance that the US is providing, adding that he’s been frequently speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The US is “surging additional military assistance to the Israeli Defense Force including ammunition, interceptors to replenish the Iron Dome, we moved the US carrier fleet to the eastern Mediterranean and are sending more fighter jets there, to that region, and made it clear, made it clear to the Iranians – be careful”, Biden continued.

In his remarks, Biden also addressed reports of the atrocities committed by Hamas.

“It matters that Americans see what’s happening – I mean, I have been doing this a long time, I never really thought that I would see it and have confirmed pictures of terrorist beheading children,” Biden said.

Biden pledged the full force of his administration’s commitment to rescuing hostages in Hamas custody, telling the group that while “we’re working on every aspect of the hostage crisis in Israel,” if he relayed in detail what steps the administration was taking, “I wouldn’t be able to get them home.”

“Folks, there’s a lot we’re doing — a lot we’re doing, I have not given up hope of bringing these folks home,” he continued, adding, “But the idea that I’m going to stand here before you and tell you what I’m doing is bizarre, so I hope you understand how bizarre I think it would be to try to answer that question.”

On Monday, however, Iran’s mission to the United Nations said that the Islamic Republic was “not involved in Palestine’s response,” referring to the Hamas attack.

“It is taken solely by Palestine itself,” it stressed.

The United States has collected specific intelligence that suggests senior Iranian government officials were caught by surprise by Saturday’s attack, according to multiple sources familiar with the intelligence.

The existence of the intelligence has cast doubt on the idea that Iran was directly involved in the planning, resourcing or approving of the operation, the sources said.

Israel PM: ‘Every Hamas member is a dead man’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised that “Every member of Hamas is a dead man.”

In a statement, Netanyahu for the first time clearly expressed Israel’s intention to “destroy” Hamas following its surprise attack on Saturday.

“Hamas is Daesh [ISIL/ISIS] and we will crush them and destroy them as the world has destroyed Daesh,” he said in a televised statement, the first delivered jointly with his war cabinet.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant also added, “We will wipe Hamas off the face of the Earth.”

Hamas initiated Operation Al-Aqsa Flood – a multi-pronged surprise attack into Israel via land, sea and air. Hamas announced it was in response to the storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem and Israeli settlers’ growing violence against Palestinians.

Federal agencies warn of potential safety concerns in US in wake of attacks in Israel

Federal agencies are warning of the potential of attacks in the US following Hamas’s assault on Israel, citing the pervasiveness of antisemitism in violent extremist groups.

The FBI along with the Department of Homeland Security issued a public service announcement saying that while there is no current intelligence suggesting a planned domestic attack, the potential for such attacks remains a concern.

“Foreign terrorist organizations and their supporters remain committed to attacking the United States within and beyond our borders,” the PSA announced.

“In recent years, there have been several events and incidents in the United States that were purportedly motivated, at least in part, by the conflict between Israel and HAMAS. These have included the targeting of individuals, houses of worship, and institutions associated with the Jewish and Muslim faiths with acts of physical assault, vandalism, or harassment,” it added.

The FBI and DHS also noted that antisemitism “serves as a primary driver for attacks by a diverse set of violent extremists” who threaten Jewish communities in the US and across the world.

According to the FBI, terrorist organizations abroad have used previous conflicts between Hamas and Israel “to call on their supporters located in the United States to conduct attacks.”

“Some violent extremists have used times of heightened tensions to incite violence against religious minorities, targeting both Jewish and Muslim Americans,” the PSA noted.

Israeli police reject allegations of slow response to Hamas attack

Israeli police rejected accusations by Israeli media that they were too slow to respond to Hamas’s deadly assault.

“I can tell you the Israeli police and border police ran to the sites from the second there was an infiltration. We’re talking about heroes,” police spokesperson Dean Elsdunne told Anadolu news agency near the southern city of Sderot.

“It’s very easy to make decisions and opinions retrospectively under fluorescent lights. But what I can tell you is that there’s a lot of questions that need to be answered and they will be answered.”

Saudi Arabia making “unremitting efforts” to stop escalation following Hamas attacks: Crown prince

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stated Saudi Arabia “is making unremitting efforts” to stop the escalation in fighting following Hamas’ assault on Israel, according to Saudi state-run SPA news.

The crown prince affirmed, in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Wednesday:

“The Kingdom’s position of rejecting targeting civilians in any way and taking the lives of innocent people, stressing the need to observe the principles of international humanitarian law,” SPA added.

Turkey working to deliver aid to civilians affected by Israel-Hamas conflict: Erdogan

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan wants his country to work on delivering humanitarian aid to civilians affected by the Israel-Hamas conflict, his office said Wednesday.

Erdogan made the comments during a phone call with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and “stressed that it is important for regional countries to give constructive messages for the termination of the conflicts,” the Turkish presidency said on X, the platform previously known as Twitter.

As Erdogan discussed the aid delivery and the latest developments in the conflict with MBS, the Turkish president also stated “it is unacceptable to bomb civilian settlements.”

Following Saturday’s attack by Hamas, Israel announced it has ordered a “complete siege” on Gaza, including halting supplies of electricity, food, water and fuel.

Erdogan’s office did not say how the Turkish aid would be delivered to the Palestinian enclave.

Israel has ‘no mechanism’ to coordinate medical missions: Palestine Red Crescent director

Speaking further to Al Jazeera, Palestine Red Crescent Director Marwan Jalani said the group’s emergency medical responders have faced at least 30 violations in Gaza and the occupied West Bank since the fighting began on Saturday, including “live bullets fired at our ambulances”, harassment, intimidation and workers being “beat up”.

“Israel and the Israeli authorities are not only not listening to anybody, there is no mechanism at all to coordinate medical missions. They shut off all the international organisations including International Committee of the Red Cross, including the United Nations,” he added.

“When we asked [the organisations] ‘How can we coordinate so that our teams are protected? How can we coordinate so we can reach areas where there are so many dead bodies in the streets?’ They say the Israelis are not responding at all.”

“This is quite tragic and these are considered war crimes to target medical teams, to target civilians.”

Number of Americans believed to be held hostage is “very small”: US official

Of the 17 Americans unaccounted for in Israel at this time, the number believed to be held hostage by Hamas “is very small, very small — like less than a handful,” National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications John Kirby told reporters Wednesday.

“Right now, we think the number that we know are, we believe are held hostage is very small, very small, like less than a handful,” he said.

“But that could change over time. We, you know, we’re gonna get more information every single day.”

Earlier Wednesday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that 17 Americans remain unaccounted for. Additionally, a State Department spokesperson confirmed the American death toll following the Hamas attack in Israel had risen to 22.

Kirby added Americans “need to steel ourselves” for the possibility that this number could continue to rise.

“I think we all need to steel ourselves for the very distinct possibility that these numbers will keep increasing, and that we may, in fact, find out that more Americans are part of the hostage pool,” he said.

In a follow-up exchange, he stated the White House cannot confirm that all 22 American citizens confirmed killed were killed by Hamas.

Kirby also offered support for families affected by the ongoing hostage crisis.

“We’re with you, we’re grieving with you, are sorrowful with you, we’re working with you, and we’re gonna do everything we can — particularly for those who don’t know where a loved one is, to find out where they are, and to get them home with you where they belong,” he added.

Joe Biden administration is offering support to Israel in safely negotiating the safe return of hostages, he said, adding that while the Israelis “have a very robust hostage recovery capability of their own … we also have a lot of know-how too.”

Erdogan negotiating with Hamas for release of Israelis in Gaza: Official

Turkey is carrying out negotiations regarding civilians held by the Palestinian group Hamas after its attack on Israel at the weekend, a senior Turkish official said, as Ankara ramped up efforts and diplomacy to mediate the conflict.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, stated the talks were being carried out by Turkey’s relevant institutions upon orders by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but provided no further details.

29 Palestinians killed by Israeli forces and settlers in West Bank and East Jerusalem: Palestinian ministry

Violence has risen in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem since Israel declared its war on Hamas and continued to strike Gaza since Saturday, leaving a total of 29 Palestinians dead and 150 injured, the Palestinian health ministry said Wednesday.

Four Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers Wednesday in the village of Qusra, south of the city of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the head of the Qusra council, Abdelathim Wadi, told CNN. Several other people were injured.

Two of those killed by settler gunfire were adolescents, the Palestinian foreign ministry said in a statement Wednesday, adding a total of nine people were injured.

Settlers “protected by Israeli forces” also opened fire on farmers in the town of Kafr al-Dik and the village of Marda, east of Nablus, the foreign ministry statement added.

Settlers, according to international law, are Israeli civilians living in illegal settlements in the West Bank and have been accused of carrying out acts of violence – physical assault, property damage, and harassment – against Palestinians.

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli military forces erupted in several areas in the occupied West Bank amid a closure that was imposed by the military following Hamas’ attack Saturday.

The closure includes checkpoints and roadblocks set up by the Israeli military at various entry and exit points – and limits the movement of Palestinians within the West Bank and between the West Bank and Israel, according to several Palestinian residents who spoke to CNN on Wednesday.

Palestinians living in the West Bank told CNN the closure has significantly impacted their daily lives, restricting their ability to travel for work, school, medical treatment, and other essential activities.

Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said earlier this week that the military was on high alert in the West Bank, adding it was preparing to thwart any potential attacks.

“Anyone who challenges us in Judea and Samaria will be met with huge force,” Hagari stated, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

Two Palestinians were also killed in clashes with Israeli police in the Silwan neighborhood in East Jerusalem on Tuesday, the Red Crescent said in a statement, adding that paramedics were “prevented from entering Silwan to evacuate those who sustained gun wounds.”

“The two bodies were taken away by Israeli forces,” the statement read.

Officers shot dead two people who launched fireworks at a close range and threw stones at officers operating in the area, Israeli police said in a statement Tuesday.

One of the officers was hit by the fireworks, the statement added.

Israeli police on Wednesday raided the wake tent held by the family of one of the men killed, a resident of Silwan told CNN.

‘We have never seen such a deliberate targeting’: Director of Palestine Red Crescent

Marwan Jilani, the director general of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, has said his organisation has seen the “worst moment in the entire history … of this long conflict”, with four emergency workers killed in Gaza.

He stated three of the workers were “directly hit” as they attended to the injured in the Jabalia area of northern Gaza. The fourth worker was “shot straight in the back and through the heart” while responding to casualties in east Gaza near the division with Israel.

Jilani added the group had coordinated with the International Committee of the Red Cross before their worker went to the border area and were “given the green light”.

“We have never seen such atrocities. We have never seen such a deliberate targeting in this manner of medical professionals who are fulfilling a humanitarian assistance,” he told Al Jazeera from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

“Our people were devastated. They were crying. They were hugging each other and they didn’t know what to do, except to wipe the tears and go out again and face those atrocities,” he continued.

11 teachers and 30 students of UN-run schools have died in Gaza: UN

Eleven teachers in schools in Gaza run by the United Nations and 30 students have been killed in the violence, the UN said Wednesday.

An additional three teachers and eight students were also injured, according to the UN.

As 1,000 houses in Gaza have been destroyed and 560 rendered uninhabitable, 220,000 people are seeking refuge from air strikes, the UN announced.

As 1,000 houses in Gaza have been destroyed and 560 rendered uninhabitable, 220,000 people are seeking refuge from air strikes, the UN added.

There are 92 UN schools in Gaza filled with citizens as food and water supplies dwindle, with some staffers working 24 hours a day, the UN said.

“Citizens need protection,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric stated, adding, “We want to see a humanitarian corridor.””

The UN is following up with global leaders about the crossing into Egypt and Secretary-General António Guterres has a pending phone call with the Israeli prime minister.

Gaza death toll surpasses 1,200: Palestinian officials

Gaza’s military of health says at least 1,203 Palestinians have been killed and 5,763 wounded since Israel began its bombardment of the territory.

In what residents are describing as the most intense bombing campaign in living memory, Israel has levelled entire neighbourhoods resulting in mass casualties.

At least 189 Israeli soldiers among 1,200 killed in Israel: IDF spokesperson

Israel’s military announced that of the at least 1,200 people killed in Israel following attacks by Hamas this weekend.

At least 189 were Israeli soldiers, Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesperson for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), stated at a news briefing Wednesday.

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