Monday, December 4, 2023

Israel-Palestine conflict LIVE: Gaza death toll tops 8,000

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 1,400 Israelis, including both military and settlers. More than 8,000 Palestinians have been so far killed in an exchange of fire between the two sides.

Palestinian Health Ministry wants international community to put pressure on Israel

The spokesperson of the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza has urged the international community to put pressure on the Israeli army to stop targeting health infrastructures while calling on Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing.

“We asked the international community to stop the Israeli aggression and attacks against displaced people on medical aid,” Ashraf al-Qudra said, adding the hospital’s operations were severely hampered by the presence of thousands of displaced people sheltering there.

“We ask our brothers in Egypt to reopen the Rafah crossing and to let it work in order to have regular medical assistance.”

Since the start of the war, 87 trucks were allowed in. By comparison, about 100 used to enter every day prior to the conflict.

World Food Programme says 40 more aid trucks expected to enter Gaza but it “needs more”

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Representative and Country Director for Palestine Samer Abdeljaber told CNN that 40 more aid trucks are expected to enter Gaza on Sunday amid a worsening humanitarian situation.

“We hope today we will be able to allow more trucks into Gaza – 40 trucks are expected to be crossing. However, we have to also note that that’s not enough compared to the soaring needs… at the moment in Gaza, we need more than that,” Abdeljaber said.

“Just for WFP to be able to reach 1 million people, we need 40 trucks a day. If we’re going to be supporting 2 million people, we need 100 trucks of food,” he added.

The trucks going into the strip include food, water and medical supplies, but not fuel, according to Abdeljaber.

Abdeljaber went on to say that the blackout that happened with telecommunication over the weekend presented a “major challenge” for the World Food Programme.

“We couldn’t coordinate on the ground to facilitate for the trucks to go in,” he continued.

Communications in the enclave — including cellular and internet connectivity — were partially restored on Sunday morning, according to two service providers and a monitoring group.

“Luckily today, it’s gradually coming back, but after 36 (hours) of no communication on the ground with our staff, with our partners, even just to plan for the crossing and transshipment of the trucks was a major challenge and that is something that shows how vulnerable the whole situation is if something as simple as communication is not provided for us to be able to operate,” Abdeljaber stated.

UN warns “civil order” starting to breaking down in Gaza as thousands steal basics from warehouses

The main UN agency in Gaza has warned civil order is breaking down, saying “thousands” of people have broken into some of its warehouses “taking wheat flour and other basic survival items like hygiene supplies.”

One of the warehouses in the city of Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza, is where the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) stores supplies from humanitarian convoys coming from Egypt, the agency announced in a statement.

“This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege on Gaza. People are scared, frustrated and desperate,” stated Thomas White, director of UNRWA Affairs in the Gaza Strip.

“Tensions and fear are made worse by the cuts in the phones and internet communication lines. They feel that they are on their own, cut off from their families inside Gaza and the rest of the world,” White added.

The “massive” displacement of people from northern Gaza to the south “has placed enormous pressure on those communities, adding further burden on crumbling public services,” the agency said. Some families have received as many as 50 relatives who are taking shelter in one household, it added.

“Supplies on the market are running out while the humanitarian aid coming into the Gaza Strip on trucks from Egypt is insufficient. The needs of the communities are immense, if only for basic survival, while the aid we receive is meagre and inconsistent,” White said.

Just over 80 trucks of aid have crossed into Gaza in one week so far, and on Saturday there was no convoy due to the blackout in communications, the agency announced.

“The current system of convoys is geared to fail. Very few trucks, slow processes, strict inspections, supplies that do not match the requirements of UNRWA and the other aid organizations, and mostly the ongoing ban on fuel, are all a recipe for a failed system,” White continued, adding, “We call for a regular and steady flow line of humanitarian supplies into the Gaza Strip to respond to the needs especially as tensions and frustrations grow,” he added. ”

Following the restoration of internet services, UNRWA teams in Gaza “will reassess the situation with the aim of resuming convoys and distribution of assistance,” the agency noted.

Netanyahu apologises for controversial tweet

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has apologised for a tweet in which he blamed Israel’s security agencies for the failures that led to the October 7 attack.

Netanyahu had tweeted that he was not presented with any intelligence ahead of Hamas’s attack. He pinned the blame on the army’s chief and the head of the Shin Bet for having judged that the armed group was “deterred”.

“I was wrong. The things I said should not have been said and I apologize for that. I give full backing to all the heads of the security arms,” Netanyahu said on X.

His apology came following a stormy morning for the PM as politicians from across the political spectrum criticised him for inflaming division within the Israeli establishment.

Death toll in Gaza surpasses 8,000

Killed: 8,005
Wounded: 20,242

Occupied West Bank
Killed: 114
Wounded: 1,900

Killed: 1,405
Wounded: 5,431

Al-Quds Brigades says its fighters wounded Israeli soldiers in northwest Gaza

The al-Quds Brigades announced its fighters have wounded two Israeli soldiers in a confrontation in the northwest of the Gaza Strip.

In a statement on the Telegram messaging app, the group said the fighters confronted the Israeli soldiers penetrating into Gaza with machine guns and mortar shells.

Israel earlier announced that two of its soldiers were wounded in Gaza, adding that one was in serious condition.

At least 30 hospitals, health centres in Gaza are shut now

Health ministry officials have told Al Jazeera that at least 30 hospitals and health centres have shut down in Gaza since Israel started its war on the enclave. They have run out of medical and fuel supplies.

Several hospitals have had to enforce part closures. In Nasr Hospital, only the emergency department is operating. Every other department had to close.

More hospitals are expected to shut down completely in the coming hours and days if no supplies are allowed into Gaza.

Israel orders al-Quds Hospital in Gaza Strip to evacuate

Gaza’s al-Quds Hospital has been ordered to evacuate by Israel, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

In a statement on social media, the organisation announced it had been told the hospital would be bombed.

Israeli jets bomb areas near Gaza’s biggest hospital

Israeli warplanes have carried out air raids near Gaza’s largest hospital that is filled with patients and tens of thousands of people seeking shelter, the Associated Press reported citing witnesses.

Israel says the attack was carried out because Hamas has a command post under the hospital, without providing evidence.

Residents said the latest strikes destroyed most of the roads leading to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, in the northern part of the besieged territory.

“Reaching the hospital has become increasingly difficult,” Mahmoud al-Sawah, who is sheltering in the hospital, stated, adding, “It seems they want to cut off the area.”

West Bank death toll rises to 114 Palestinians

The number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank since 7 October has now risen to at least 114, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.

The number was reached after three Palestinians were killed on Sunday morning.

UN Security Council meeting scheduled for Monday

A UN Security Council meeting called by the United Arab Emirates has now been officially scheduled for Monday afternoon after 3pm New York time (19:00 GMT).

The council will discuss the situation in Gaza after previously scheduled meetings on Western Sahara and Colombia.

The UAE requested the meeting on Saturday after Israel’s expanded ground operations in Gaza.

To date, the UN Security Council has failed to reach an agreement on four different resolutions calling for a ceasefire, or shorter humanitarian pause, since the current escalation of violence began this month.

Humanitarian situation in Gaza a “catastrophic failing”: Red Cross committee president

The International Committee of the Red Cross has called for an immediate de-escalation of hostilities in Gaza and delivery of humanitarian aid.

“It is unacceptable that civilians have no safe place to go in Gaza amid the massive bombardments, and with a military siege in place there is also no adequate humanitarian response currently possible. This is a catastrophic failing that the world must not tolerate,” ICRC President Mirjana Spoljaric said in a statement Saturday.

Spoljaric added that the “immediate imperative must be to save lives” by ensuring healthcare services, water, and electricity are restored in Gaza.

“Under international humanitarian law, the parties are obligated to spare civilians from the effects of military operations at all times, to distinguish between civilians and military targets, and to never use human shields to prevent military objectives from being attacked,” Spoljaric stated.

The ICRC also called for the “immediate release of all hostages” and reiterated the organization’s previous offer to facilitate any future hostage release operation.

Palestinian Authority president urges Arab League to gather in emergency summit

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has called on the leaders of Arab nations to convene an emergency Arab League summit in response to Israel’s operation in Gaza.

“Israel responded to the UN resolution yesterday with more bombing and destruction,” Abbas said in a speech Saturday from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

The United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly approved a resolution on Friday, initiated by Jordan, which calls for a halt in hostilities between Israel and Hamas. The resolution faced strong opposition from both the United States and Israel, along with 12 other countries that voted against it.

Abbas advocated for immediate action from the international community and Arab leaders to put an end to the ongoing “aggression”.

He stressed the necessity of bringing in humanitarian aid and implementing measures to prevent further displacement of Palestinians.

MSF decries ‘weak’ actions of world leaders on humanitarian aid

Families of hostages meet with Netanyahu to call for “comprehensive deal” to return all hostages

Families of hostages held in Gaza say they told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu they would only accept an “everyone in return for everyone” deal, which would secure the immediate release of all hostages.

The families held a news conference shortly after meeting Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on Saturday, just before the prime minister held his own media briefing, where he announced the launch of the second stage of the war in Gaza.

“We spoke bluntly and made it clear to the prime minister in no uncertain terms that a comprehensive deal based on the ‘everyone for everyone’ principle is a deal the families would consider, and has the support of all of Israel,” Meirav Leshem Gonen, mother of Romi Gonen, said on behalf of the families.

An “everyone for everyone” deal would involve the release of the over 200 hostages in Gaza in exchange for Palestinians currently held in Israeli prisons, which the nongovernmental organization Palestinian Prisoners Club estimates to be 6,630 people.

Hamas released a statement Saturday claiming the group was willing to engage in such a trade, though any such deal would be hugely controversial in Israel.

Hamas announced it is “immediately ready” to initiate a comprehensive prisoners swap with Israel, according to a statement issued by Abu Obaida, the spokesperson of Al Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing.

The spokesperson added that Hamas is ready, whether Israel seeks an all-inclusive approach to the prisoner issue or prefers a “segmented” approach.

On Friday, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari characterized Hamas’ most recent hostage exchange overture a form of “psychological terror aimed to manipulate Israeli civilians”.

Netanyahu was asked about such a deal at his Saturday news conference, and acknowledged he discussed the option with the families.

“I think that elaborating on this will not help achieve our goal. In the meeting with the families, I felt emotionally helpless,” Netanyahu stated.

As the efforts to free the hostages drag on, loved ones have also expressed alarm at the possibility Hamas’ captives will be harmed in Israel’s intensifying bombardment of Gaza.

“We came with an unequivocal demand that military action takes into account the fate of the hostages and missing, and that any move considered will take into account the well-being of our loved ones,” Gonen said on behalf of the families.

Israeli military chief says war with Hamas requires ground operation

Israel’s military chief said today marks a new stage in the country’s war against Hamas, and that it requires a ground offensive.

“This is a war with multiple stages. Today, we move to the next one,” Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, said in a video released by the IDF.

“Our forces are currently operating on the ground in the Gaza Strip. These activities are being supported by precise and heavy fire, all in service of the war’s objectives: dismantling Hamas, securing our borders and the supreme effort to return the hostages home.”

“The objectives of this war require a ground operation,” Halevi added, stating, “In order to expose and destroy the enemy there is no other way than to enter its territory with force.”
More context: A ground offensive in Gaza has been widely expected following the October 7 attacks in Israel by Hamas, but it does not appear as though any major operation aimed at seizing and holding significant amounts of the territory is yet underway.

Israel Defense Forces announced Saturday that it had struck several Hamas targets in Gaza as part of its expanded ground operation in the strip.

“Since early Friday evening, combined combat forces of armor, combat engineers and infantry have been operating on the ground in the northern Gaza Strip. As part of the operation, IDF soldiers identified terrorist cells attempting to launch anti-tank missiles and mortar shells and struck them. IDF soldiers also identified and destroyed a booby-trapped structure,” the IDF said in a release.

The IDF added that helicopters, under the direction of IDF tanks, struck a building being used by Hamas as an operational meeting point.

The military also noted that Israeli soldiers “neutralized” several terrorist cells that attempted to fire anti-tank missiles at them. Forces also struck Hamas members who were located in what was described as a “booby-trapped structure.”

Gaza civilians say they endured the heaviest airstrikes of the conflict so far overnight, taking shelter from the bombardment and mourning those killed in hospitals. A communications blackout has disrupted emergency services and cut off contact between family members.

110 doctors and other medical staff killed so far: Gaza ministry

UN chief: Israel’s “unprecedented escalation” in Gaza is impairing humanitarian aid

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres on Saturday stated he was surprised by the “unprecedented escalation” of bombardments in Gaza by Israel, which he said is “undermining” humanitarian help to the enclave.

“I was encouraged in the last days by what seemed to be a growing consensus in the international community, including the countries supporting Israel, for the need of at least a humanitarian pause in the fighting to facilitate the release of hostages in Gaza, the evacuation of third country nationals and the necessary massive scale up of the delivery of humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza,” Guterres said in a statement.

“Regrettably, instead of the pause, I was surprised by an unprecedented escalation of the bombardments and their devastating impacts, undermining the referred humanitarian objectives,” Guterres added.

Guterres also noted the UN is “extremely concerned” about its staff in Gaza after communications links were badly disrupted by an aerial assault overnight.

The Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) Philippe Lazzarini earlier Saturday said that, while he was able to contact a few UNRWA colleagues in Rafah via a satellite phone, he has not heard from the “vast majority” of his team.

Guterres, who is currently in Doha, also thanked Qatar for “mediation initiatives,” including the release of some hostages.

“I reiterate my strong appeal for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire,” Guterres continued.

“I want to repeat what I said yesterday. This is the moment of truth. Everyone must assume their responsibilities. History will judge us all,” the statement concluded.

An overwhelming majority of nations – 120 countries – voted on Friday for a United Nations resolution calling for a “sustained humanitarian truce” in Gaza, even as Israel’s military announced it is “expanding ground operations” in the besieged enclave.

The United States and Israel were among the 14 countries that voted against the resolution. The European Union has stopped short of calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, instead appealing for humanitarian “pauses.”

EU calls for urgent ‘pause’ in hostilities

Hamas calls for implementation of UNGA decision on aid to Gaza

Israel reissues call for people to evacuate northern Gaza

The Israeli military has reiterated its call for residents in northern Gaza to evacuate.

In a video posted on X, formerly Twitter, on Saturday, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said, “This is an urgent military advisory from the Israel Defence Forces. For your immediate safety, we urge all residents of northern Gaza and Gaza City to temporarily relocate south.”

Hagari made reference to what he described as a coming IDF operation against Hamas in Gaza.

“The impending IDF operation is set to neutralize the threat of Hamas with precision and intensity,” he continued, adding, “To the residents of northern Gaza and Gaza City, your window to act is closing… Move south. This is not a mere precaution, it is an urgent plea.”

The latest warnings from Israel came after the IDF said Friday it would expand its ground operation following the October 7 Hamas attacks.

A ground offensive has been widely expected following the attacks, but it does not appear as though any major operation aimed at seizing and holding significant amounts of the territory is yet underway.

UN human rights commissioner: Large-scale Israeli ground operations could have “catastrophic consequences”

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk warned on Saturday of potentially “catastrophic consequences” in Gaza if Israel pushes further with large-scale ground operations.

“Thousands have already died, many of them children. Given the manner in which military operations have been conducted until now, in the context of the 56-year-old occupation, I am raising alarm about the possibly catastrophic consequences of large-scale ground operations in Gaza and the potential for thousands more civilians to die” he said in a statement.

The commissioner stated that Israel’s bombardment of Gaza Friday night took “this terrible crisis to a new level of violence and pain” and that damaging communications infrastructure put the population of Gaza in “grave danger.”

He added more violence was not the answer and called on “all parties as well as third States” to do what they could to de-escalate the conflict.

The Israeli military said ground forces were inside Gaza Saturday morning, after announcing Friday it would expand its ground operation following the October 7 Hamas attacks that left 1,400 dead and over 200 taken hostage.

Gaza residents say Friday’s airstrikes were the most intense they had experienced since Israel began to retaliate against Hamas around three weeks ago.

Since then, at least 7,700 people have been killed and over 19,000 injured in Israeli attacks on Gaza, according to figures released Saturday by the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah drawn from sources in the Hamas-controlled enclave.

UAE calls on UN Security Council to meet on Gaza

Saudi Arabia denounces Israel ground operation

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