Makeshift hospitals needed to meet demand: Gaza health ministry
Spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra has given an update on the healthcare situation in the enclave.
- Makeshift hospitals are needed to be setup immediately to treat the massive number of people injured by Israeli attacks.
- The 31 premature babies evacuated from al-Shifa will be transferred to Egypt via Rafah alone unless contact is made with their families.
- Israeli forces purposely sabotaged equipment at al-Shifa hospital including ECG and MRI machines.
- We urge the UN and others to help secure uninterrupted food, fuel and water deliveries.
31 premature babies evacuated from al-Shifa to southern Gaza
The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) announced on Sunday that 31 premature babies have been evacuated from al-Shifa hospital – Gaza’s largest medical facility – to a hospital in southern Gaza.
It added that the evacuation was coordination with the World Health Organisation and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
“They were transported by PRCS ambulances to the south, preparing for their transfer to the Emirates Hospital in Rafah,” the Red Crescent wrote on X.
Qatar says challenges to Israel-Hamas hostage deal are ‘just logistical’
Qatar’s prime minister said on Sunday the main sticking points blocking a deal for the release of dozens of hostages taken by Palestinian group Hamas in their Oct. 7 attack on Israel were now “very minor” and mainly practical and logistical issues.
It followed a report in the Washington Post published on Saturday that claimed a deal for the release of 50 hostages had been agreed. The White House denied an agreement was reached.
“The challenges facing the agreement are just practical and logistical,” Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani stated at a joint press conference with European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Doha.
“The deal is going through ups and downs from time to time throughout the last few weeks. But I think that you know I’m now more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal that can bring the people safely back to their home.”
The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the deal, reported that Israel, the United States and Hamas militants had reached a tentative agreement to free dozens of women and children held hostage in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting.
However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said no deal had been reached yet.
“The efforts are still ongoing … and we communicate with both parties, whether it’s with the Israelis or with Hamas, and we see there is a good progress especially happened in the last few days,” stated Sheikh Mohammed.
EU foreign policy chief commends Qatar’s efforts in mediating war in Gaza
The EU’s top foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, praised Qatar and said that the country has emerged as a critical mediator not only in the Middle East but also in other crises.
“I want to recognise the personal engagement of Qatar in releasing Ukranian children taken by Russia and also mediating prisoners’ exchange deals in Iran,” he stated at a joint press conference with Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, noting Doha’s efforts to forge peace.
At a news conference in Doha, Borell also told Qatar’s prime minister that he had visited the families of the hostages in Israel who had a plea to Qatar.
“They asked me to tell you that you should do everything you can to release hostages. From our side in the EU, we are also putting pressure on both sides to make this deal possible,” he added.
Negotiations with Israel and Hamas, mediated by Qatar to release hostages, are still ongoing.
Borrell also called for “immediate humanitarian pauses” in the war in Gaza.
International community should push for ceasefire: Jordan King
Jordan’s King Abdullah said the international community should push for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to stop a humanitarian catastrophe caused by Israel’s “ugly war against civilians”.
In remarks made during a meeting with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen on Sunday, King Abdullah stated global powers should force Israel to comply with international law to protect civilians.
He added that the international community must ensure Israel heeds calls to allow the uninterrupted flow of aid into the besieged enclave.
IDF updates number of soldiers killed in ops since October 7
The Israel Defense Forces has updated the number of soldiers killed in operations since October 7, when Hamas launched its attack on southern Israel.
The IDF said on Sunday two soldiers were killed in northern Gaza, adding to the six deaths it announced on Saturday.
It brings the total number of soldiers killed to 58 since Israel launched its offensive in Gaza.
Including those soldiers killed in the initial Hamas assault on October 7, the total IDF losses stand at 380.
Israeli military kills two Palestinians in West Bank
Israeli forces killed two Palestinians, including a disabled man, during incursions in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian news agency Wafa has reported.
Issam Al-Fayed, a 46-year-old disabled man, was shot dead at the entrance of the Jenin refugee camp, Wafa said early on Sunday.
Omar Laham, 20, was fatally shot during clashes with Israeli forces in Dheisheh refugee camp south of Bethlehem, according to the news agency.
Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank have increased since Israel launched its huge air and ground assault on Gaza in response to Hamas’s October 7 attacks.
Some 200 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been killed in the West Bank since the armed group attacked southern Israeli communities.
White House says no deal between Israel and Hamas yet
Israel and Hamas have not yet reached a deal on a temporary ceasefire, a White House spokesperson stated on Saturday night.
This comes after the Washington Post reported that a tentative deal between the two parties was reached, in which at least 50 captives held by Hamas would be released for a five-day ceasefire.
“No deal yet but we continue to work hard to get a deal,” Adrienne Watson, spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council, said in a statement.
PA President Abbas calls on Biden to press Israel to end war
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has appealed to US President Joe Biden to intervene to stop Israeli’s assault on Gaza.
In an address aired by Palestine TV on Saturday, Abbas called on Biden to use his “international standing and significant influence” on Israel.
“President Biden, I call on you, with all your official and humane qualities, to stop this humanitarian catastrophe, this genocide against our innocent people,” Abbas stated.
“History will not absolve anyone of these crimes. I call on you to provide relief to our besieged people in Gaza. This war must stop immediately. How can this genocide be self-defence? In reality, this genocide is a war crime that warrants punishment.”
Biden has opposed a full ceasefire, instead backing “humanitarian pauses” to allow the delivery of aid and secure the release of Hamas’s captives in Gaza.
Sixth Palestinian prisoner dies in Israeli prison since October 7
A Palestinian prisoner has died in Israel’s Negev desert prison, Palestinian news agency Wafa has reported.
Thaer Samih Abu Assab had been detained since 2005 and was serving a 25-year sentence, the news agency reported on Saturday, citing the Palestinian Commission of Detainees Affairs.
His death brings to six the number of prisoners who have died in Israeli prisons since Hamas’s October 7 attacks on Israel.
Negev desert prison, also known as Ketziot prison, is located about 180km (111 miles) south of Jerusalem and 10km (6 miles) east of the Egyptian border, according to the Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association.
The facility was closed in 1995 after the signing of the Oslo Accords, before being reopened with the outbreak of the second Intifada in 2002, according to the association.
Israeli authorities arrested 7,000 Palestinians in 2022, according to the Palestine Prisoners Center for Studies.
US lawmakers discuss conditioning future aid to Israel: Report
American lawmakers in both the House and Senate are discussing how to create conditions for future military aid to Israel, Politico reported on Saturday citing two members of the Democratic Party.
The debate, which is taking place among Democrats, is in the preliminary stages, however, the White House is aware of the discussions and was warned that Biden’s allies in Congress could openly push for conditions on military aid to Israel in the near future.
In a statement released late on Saturday, Senator Bernie Sanders stated that all US aid to Israel must halt until a number of conditions are met, including:
An end to Israel’s indiscriminate bombing of Gaza and a “significant pause in military operations”.
The right of displaced Gaza residents to return to their homes.
Israel must not impose a long-term re-occupation or blockade of Gaza.
Israel must put an end to settler violence in the occupied West Bank and freeze settlement expansion.
Arab foreign ministers to visit China, deliver message for Gaza ceasefire
A group of Arab foreign ministers is going to travel to a number of foreign capitals beginning on Monday with Beijing, where they will discuss the need for a ceasefire in Gaza.
The news was announced by Saudi Prince Faisal bin Farhan, the kingdom’s top diplomat.
“The first stop will be in China, and then we will move to a number of capitals to deliver the clear message there must be a ceasefire immediately.”
WHO leads ‘very high risk’ UN mission to Gaza’s Al-Shifa hospital
A group of United Nations humanitarian workers visited the Al-Shifa hospital in northern Gaza on Saturday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said in a post on X.
The group spent one hour inside the hospital during which time there was heavy fighting in close proximity to the facility, the WHO added.
UN staff described the hospital as a “death zone” where “signs of shelling and gunfire” were evident.
“The team saw a mass grave at the entrance of the hospital and was told more than 80 people were buried there,” it said.
The WHO added that several patients had died over the past two to three days due to the lack of medical services.
“There are 25 health workers and 291 patients remaining in Al-Shifa, with several patient deaths having occurred over the previous two to three days due to the shutting down of medical services,” it noted.
It added: “Patients include 32 babies in extremely critical condition, two people in intensive care without ventilation, and 22 dialysis patients whose access to life-saving treatment has been severely compromised.”
Staff and patients who spoke to UN workers were “terrified for their safety and health,” WHO said, adding that they “pleaded for evacuation.”
The WHO announced it is “urgently developing plans” to evacuate staff and patients to two hospitals in southern Gaza.
“The vast majority of patients are victims of war trauma, including many with complex fractures and amputations, head injuries, burns, chest and abdominal trauma, and 29 patients with serious spinal injuries who are unable to move without medical assistance,” WHO said, adding, “Many trauma patients have severely infected wounds due to lack of infection control measures in the hospital and unavailability of antibiotics.”
Israel launched a “targeted” operation against Hamas early Wednesday morning inside Gaza’s largest hospital, where thousands of displaced Palestinians had been sheltering alongside patients and medical staff.
Israel claims Hamas is using the hospital complex for military purposes and has built a command center under the facility – allegations repeatedly rejected by both Hamas and hospital officials.
At least 80 dead in today’s Jabalia strikes: Health officials
A health official in the Gaza Strip said more than 80 people were killed earlier on Saturday in the twin strikes on the north’s Jabalia refugee camp, including a UN school used as a shelter for people displaced by Israel’s bombardment.
Social media videos showed bodies covered in blood and dust on the floor of a building, where mattresses had been wedged under school tables in Jabalia, Gaza’s biggest refugee camp.
The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees has denounced the Israeli strikes on UN-run schools in Gaza.
Philippe Lazzarini said he had seen “horrifying images and footage of scores of people killed and injured” in one of his agency’s schools “sheltering thousands of displaced”.
“These attacks cannot become commonplace, they must stop,” he posted on X, formerly Twitter.
"Bodies scattered everywhere"
Footage from Al Jazeera Arabic shows deadly aftermath of Israeli bombing on a school run by UNRWA in Gaza's Jabalia camp on the morning of Saturday 18 November pic.twitter.com/uHhf47ozXr
— Middle East Eye (@MiddleEastEye) November 18, 2023
Israel to occupy Gaza in the long-term: Foreign minister
Israel plans to occupy Gaza indefinitely, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said in an interview on Channel 12.
“There will be Israeli security control from the Jordan [river] to the [Mediterranean] sea at all times,” Cohen stated, alluding to a Palestinian resistance chant that calls for Palestine to be free “from the river to the sea”.
The foreign minister rejected any notion that the Palestinian Authority would play a role in Gaza’s future governance, saying that the PA had “not condemned the October 7 event” and continues to pay members of the Hamas party’s salaries in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli authorities have vowed to erradicate the Hamas government and its members from the Gaza Strip before ending its current bombardment, which has killed at least 12,300 people, including more than 5,000 children and 3,300 women.
Netanyahu says Palestinian Authority is “not competent” to govern Gaza in current form
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Palestinian Authority is “not competent” in its current form to lead Gaza at a news conference Saturday.
Netanyahu accused Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas of not condemning Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and said some of Abbas’ senior ministers celebrated the attack.
“After fighting and pulling this whole thing, we’d give it to them?” Netanyahu stated.
“You know full well how they educate their children,” he continued, adding, “If this doesn’t change, what have we done?”
The prime minister’s comments come after US President Joe Biden said in an op-ed published Saturday that Gaza and the West Bank should ultimately be reunited under “a revitalized” Palestinian Authority after the Israel-Hamas war.
Biden rejects ceasefire calls and condemns West Bank violence in op-ed
US President Joe Biden has rejected the mounting calls for a ceasefire in Gaza, saying in an op-ed published Saturday that it would not achieve peace.
“As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, a cease-fire is not peace. To Hamas’s members, every cease-fire is time they exploit to rebuild their stockpile of rockets, reposition fighters and restart the killing by attacking innocents again,” he wrote in the piece for the Washington Post.
“Our goal should not be simply to stop the war for today — it should be to end the war forever, break the cycle of unceasing violence, and build something stronger in Gaza and across the Middle East so that history does not keep repeating itself.”
Biden also called for Israel to respect humanitarian law and minimize the loss of civilian life, saying he counseled Israeli officials during his trip to Tel Aviv “against letting their hurt and rage mislead them into making mistakes we ourselves have made in the past”.
Biden stated a two-state solution is the only solution to the enduring conflict in the region, and that, in the meantime, there should be governance under the Palestinian Authority.
“As we strive for peace, Gaza and the West Bank should be reunited under a single governance structure, ultimately under a revitalized Palestinian Authority, as we all work toward a two-state solution,” he wrote.
Biden also took aim at extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank — which has been a concern among officials — saying the US is prepared to issue visa bans against the perpetrators.
“I have been emphatic with Israel’s leaders that extremist violence against Palestinians in the West Bank must stop and that those committing the violence must be held accountable,” the president wrote.
The warning came amid concerns over Israel violating the Visa Waiver Program — which allows eligible travelers to apply to enter the US without a visa, and went into effect in late October.
“I won’t get into full details of our private diplomatic conversations, but we expect Israel to address those concerns,” State Department spokesperson Matt Miller stated this week.
Biden’s op-ed is the latest example of efforts from the White House to remind Americans that conflicts abroad also affect US national security, as the administration’s supplemental funding request remains stalled.
Last month, the Biden administration requested more than $105 billion from Congress as part of a package it said will provide security assistance for the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel. At the time, Biden made his own impassioned plea for the funding in a primetime Oval Office address to the nation, calling the moment “an inflection point” in American history.
The president closed with condemning the rising antisemitism and Islamophobia since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began.
Two fuel tankers a day “far from enough” for Gaza aid operation: UN agency
The amount of fuel Israel has agreed to allow into Gaza each day is “far from enough,” the head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency announced Saturday.
The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) commissioner-general Philippe Lazzarini said the amount approved – which Israel said Friday was two fuel tankers a day – was, “far from enough to cover the needs for desalination plants, sewage pumps, hospitals, water pumps in shelters, aid trucks, ambulances, bakeries and communications networks to work without interruption.”
It would meet “only half of the daily minimum requirements of fuel for humanitarian operations in Gaza,” Lazzarini added.
At the current rate, Lazzarini stated people in Gaza would still not have enough clean drinking water, “large parts” of the enclave would “continue to be flooded with sewage” and the UN would be “forced to handle a reduced number of aid trucks crossing daily into Rafah.”
Israel’s national security advisor Tzachi Hanegbi had said on Friday the amount of fuel that would enter would be “very minimal”.
In an interview on Israel’s Channel 13 on Friday night, Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said he believed the decision to lift the fuel blockade, made late Thursday night by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s war cabinet, should be approved by the extended security cabinet.
“Personally and ideologically, I’m against the entrance of fuel [to Gaza],” Cohen added.
The UN needs 200,000 liters of fuel each day in order to “meet the minimum of our humanitarian responsibilities in Gaza”, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths announced Friday.
The lack of fuel means “communications and other essential functions such as water desalination are progressively dropping offline,” Griffiths told the General Assembly.