Tanks stand ready around Gaza City; Netanyahu says Israel must run defense after war

  • Recent developments
  • Gaza services are close to “breaking point” without fuel supplies, Jens Laerke, spokesman for the UN Humanitarian Office (OCHA), said, adding that none of the 569 aid trucks that have reached the enclave so far are carrying fuel.
  • All bakeries in northern Gaza are out of service due to Israeli attacks and fuel shortages, Gaza’s interior ministry said on Tuesday.

Gaza/Jerusalem, Nov. 7 (Reuters) – Israel gave civilians trapped inside Gaza City a four-hour deadline to leave on Tuesday, and residents who fled the city said they passed tanks as they stormed it.

Israel says its forces have surrounded Gaza City, home to a third of Israel’s 2.3 million people, and that it is poised to strike soon in a campaign of extermination by Hamas Islamists, which attacked Israeli cities exactly a month ago.

In the first direct comments on Israel’s plans for Gaza’s future since the war, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would assume security responsibility for the territory indefinitely once it defeats the militants who have controlled it for the past 16 years. years.

On October 7, militants burst through the fence surrounding Gaza, killing 1,400 Israelis, mostly civilians, and abducting more than 200, according to Israeli calculations. Since then, Israel has pounded Hamas-run Gaza with strikes, killing more than 10,000 people, 40 percent of them children, according to calculations by health officials there.

“It has been a full month of carnage, unrelenting suffering, bloodshed, destruction, outrage and despair,” UN human rights commissioner Volker Dürk said in a statement at the start of a trip to the region, during which he will visit Rafah. Crossing out of Egypt is the only way to help.

Israel gave residents a window from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to leave Gaza City. Residents say Israeli tanks are moving mostly at night, with Israeli forces relying mostly on air and artillery strikes to clear the way for their ground advance.

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“For your safety, take this next opportunity to move south beyond Wadi Gaza,” the army announced, referring to the wetlands.

A still image taken from an Israeli military video shows what the military said were Palestinians moving south in a line holding white flags. Hamas said the army forced the people in the video to do so in order to humiliate them.

The Gaza Interior Ministry says 900,000 Palestinians are still taking refuge in northern Gaza, including Gaza City.

“The most dangerous trip of my life. We saw empty tanks. We saw mutilated body parts. We saw death,” Adam Fayez Zaira, who lives on the road outside Gaza City, posted with his selfie.

While Israel’s military operation has focused on the northern part of Gaza, the south has also come under attack. Palestinian health officials said at least 23 people were killed in two separate Israeli airstrikes early Tuesday in the southern Gaza cities of Khan Younis and Rafah.

“We are civilians,” said Ahmed Ayesh, who was rescued from the rubble of a house in Khan Younis, where health officials said 11 people had been killed. “This is the bravado of the so-called Israel, who are showing their strength and power against the civilians, the children inside, the children inside and the elderly.”

As he spoke, rescue workers at home tried to use their hands to free the girl who was buried up to her waist in the debris.

Netanyahu said Israel would consider “tactical minor pauses” to allow or help hostages in Gaza to leave, but again rejected calls for a ceasefire.

Asked who was responsible for Gaza’s security after Hamas was defeated, Netanyahu told US television’s ABC News: “I think Israel will have overall security responsibility indefinitely, because we’ve seen what happens when it doesn’t have security responsibility.”

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Israel’s military said it had captured a militant compound in the northern Gaza Strip and was ready to attack militants hiding in an underground tunnel. It released footage of troops using bulldozers to dig up earth and demolish walls.

Israeli Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hecht told reporters that Hamas fighters were “coming out” of the tunnels to fire rocket-propelled grenades at Israeli forces.

“So we’re really trying to get these mines out when we go into Gaza City and close it,” he said.

The military said Israeli warplanes struck several Hamas fighters who were defending themselves in a building near Al-Quds Hospital inside Gaza City.

Israel and Hamas have rejected calls for a ceasefire. Israel says it wants the hostages released first. Hamas says it will not release them or stop fighting when Gaza is attacked.

‘My children… have done nothing wrong’

The relentless horror stories of civilian suffering on both sides have polarized world opinion over the past month.

In Shefaim, Israel, Avihai Brodutch recounted 31 days of agony after Hamas kidnapped his wife and three children from Kafar Azza, about three km (2 miles) from Gaza.

“My children, they’re so young, they haven’t done anything wrong to anyone,” she said of her 10-year-old daughter Afri and sons Yuval, eight, and Uriah, four.

Since last week, hundreds of Gazans holding foreign passports have been allowed to cross Rafah into Egypt. But the majority of Gazans remain trapped in the strip, and those who managed to escape describe the agony of leaving loved ones behind.

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“It’s a horror film,” Suzanne Besiso, 31, a Palestinian-American who traveled to Egypt from Gaza last week, told Reuters in Cairo. “No sleep. No food. No water. You keep emptying from one place to another.”

Netanyahu said a general cease-fire would hamper his country’s war effort, but a suspension of hostilities for humanitarian reasons could continue to be considered depending on the circumstances.

U.S. President Joe Biden discussed such suspensions by phone with Netanyahu on Monday, reiterating support for Israel while insisting it must protect civilians, the White House said.

Washington backs Israel’s insistence that Hamas will use the full ceasefire to regroup. But many countries say a simultaneous ceasefire is needed to help Gazans at risk.

The UN humanitarian office said on Tuesday that Gaza services were nearing “breaking point” without fuel supplies. All bakeries in northern Gaza are out of service due to Israeli attacks and fuel shortages, Gaza’s interior ministry said on Tuesday.

There are fears the month-long conflict could spill over to other fronts, including the Israeli-occupied West Bank and the northern border with Lebanon. Both these regions have witnessed the worst levels of unrest in years.

A total of 163 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank since October 7, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said on Tuesday.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Emily Rose in Gaza, Patricia Zengerle in Washington and Michelle Nichols in the United Nations, Amina Ismail in Cairo; By Daphne Psaledakis, Lincoln Feist and William McLean; Editing by Rami Ayyub, Cynthia Osterman, Simon Cameron-Moore, Peter Graf

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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A veteran reporter with nearly 25 years of experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace agreement between the two sides.

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