At least 45 killed in Israeli bombing on Al-Maghazi camp in Gaza, says health ministry
Over 9,480 Gazans killed: Israel issues fresh warning asking Gaza city residents to evacuate south: After Middle East tour, Blinken heads to Turkey, urging "humanitarian pauses" and seeking to prevent a wider regional conflagration: Netanyahu fights for political survival to beat of war drums: Thousands march in Europe, America, and Iran for Palestinians
November 5, 2023 08:45 AM
Israel pressed its war to crush Hamas on Sunday nearly a month after the deadliest attack in the country's history as the Hamas said strikes on a central Gaza refugee camp killed 45 civilians.
The Hamas-run ministry in the besieged Gaza Strip said in a statement that "the number of martyrs in the Maghazi massacre has risen to 45."
Ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qudra had initially reported 30 deaths.
Hamas said in a statement posted on Telegram that Israel had "directly" bombed civilian homes, adding that most of the dead were women and children.
Ground battles raged in the north of the densely populated Gaza Strip, despite calls for a ceasefire from Arab countries and from desperate civilians after 30 days of a war that has killed thousands, mostly civilians.
Israeli troops were seen engaged in house-to-house battles as tanks and armoured bulldozers churned through the sand in footage released by the army on the campaign to tighten the encirclement of Gaza City, still home to hundreds of thousands of civilians.
Since the shock Hamas attack of October 7, which Israeli officials say killed 1,400, also mostly civilians, and saw 240 taken hostage, Israel has relentlessly bombarded the besieged Gaza Strip, levelling entire city blocks.
In a video taken from Israel's Sderot along the border with the Gaza Strip, an Israeli flag was seen raised on top of a destroyed building.
The health ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, says more than 9,480 Gazans, mostly women and children, have been killed.
As the war ground into its fifth week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken was on a Middle East tour Sunday and headed to Turkey, voicing support for its ally Israel while also urging "humanitarian pauses" and seeking to prevent a wider regional conflagration.
Since Israel sent ground forces into the north of the narrow Palestinian territory late last month, "over 2,500 terror targets have been struck" by "ground, air and naval forces", the army said on Sunday.
Soldiers were engaged in "close-quarters combat", it said, as Israeli jets were striking targets including a "Hamas military compound" overnight in the north of Gaza, vast areas of which have been reduced to a wasteland of rubble.
Leaflets dropped by the army again urged Gaza City residents to evacuate south between 10 am (0800 GMT) and 2 pm (1200 GMT), a day after a US official said at least 350,000 civilians remained in and around the city that is now an urban war zone.
- Evacuations halted -
In the latest strikes in Gaza, the Hamas-run health ministry said, Israeli bombing of Al-Maghazi refugee camp late Saturday killed 45 people, with an eyewitness reporting children dead and homes smashed.
"An Israeli air strike targeted my neighbours' house in Al-Maghazi camp, my house next door partially collapsed," said Mohammed Alaloul, 37, a journalist working for the Turkish Anadolu Agency.
Alaloul told AFP his 13-year-old son, Ahmed, and his four-year-old son, Qais, were killed in the bombing, along with his brother. His wife, mother and two other children were injured.
A military spokesperson said they were looking into whether their forces had been operating in the area at the time of the bombing.
More than 240 Israeli and foreign hostages were abducted by Hamas, officials say, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rebuffed proposals of a truce until the Islamist group releases them all.
Blinken faced a rising tide of anger in meetings with Arab foreign ministers in Jordan on Saturday, where he reaffirmed US support for "humanitarian pauses" to ensure desperate civilians get help, a day after Netanyahu gave the idea short shrift.
Blinken was later headed to Turkey whose President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has held Netanyahu personally responsible for the growing civilian death toll in Gaza.
Turkey on Saturday said it was recalling its ambassador to Israel and breaking off contacts with Netanyahu.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, whose country has been acting as the sole conduit for foreigners to escape the Gaza Strip and for aid to get in, called for an "immediate and comprehensive ceasefire".
The call was echoed by thousands of protesters in Washington in solidarity with Palestinians, one of multiple rallies held from Indonesia to Iran as well as in European cities.
"The violence in Gaza has been prolonged and indiscriminate -- it's not a war but a massacre," 27-year-old Indonesian protester Dwi Nurfitriani said during a march in Jakarta. "So, if we consider ourselves human, let's step in and reject all of the violence."
Thousands also demonstrated in Israel on Saturday as pressure mounts on Netanyahu over his government's lack of preparedness for the October 7 attacks and its handling of the hostage crisis.
In Tel Aviv, several thousand took to the streets, including relatives and friends of some of the hostages, chanting: "Bring them home now".
In Jerusalem, hundreds came together outside Netanyahu's residence with more explicit calls for his resignation.
Hamas said late Saturday the evacuation of dual nationals and foreigners from Gaza was being suspended until Israel lets some wounded Palestinians reach Rafah so they can cross the border for hospital treatment in Egypt.
A senior White House official said Hamas had tried to use a US-brokered deal opening the Egyptian border crossing to get its cadres out.
"That was just unacceptable to Egypt, to us, to Israel," the official said.
- 'Written off' Netanyahu -
Israeli chief of staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi visited troops inside Gaza on Saturday after they completed the encirclement of Gaza City, which lies to the north of the Al-Maghazi camp.
The Israeli military describes Gaza City as "the centre of the Hamas terror organisation".
US special envoy for aid assistance, David Satterfield, said between 350,000 and 400,000 civilians remained in the city and adjacent areas.
In the north of Israel, the army and Lebanon's powerful Iran-backed Hezbollah movement again traded fire across the border on Saturday, with each claiming to have hit the other's positions.
The skirmishes came after Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned that the war could draw in other forces in a regional conflict.
Blinken on Saturday held talks in Amman with his counterparts from Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all key players in the crisis.
Jordan's King Abdullah II underlined that "the only way to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is to work towards a political horizon to achieve a just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution".
The US administration has said that it too backs a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but Netanyahu's hard-right government is implacably opposed.
Netanyahu fights for political survival to beat of war drums
Israelis, deeply divided since Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power last year, have united against Hamas in war, but experts predict the veteran leader will be fighting for his survival when the conflict ends.
In the shock that gripped Israel after Hamas's October 7 attacks, the country has closed ranks behind the military operation that the 74-year-old ordered to "crush" the Palestinian fighters.
But according to experts, security lapses exposed by marauding Hamas gunmen could become the biggest -- and possibly fatal -- blow to Israel's longest-serving prime minister, already battling legal and political troubles.
"Support for Netanyahu and his coalition was draining even before October 7, and since the outbreak of war it has fallen much further," said Toby Greene, a politics lecturer at Israel's Bar-Ilan University and researcher at the London School of Economics.
"If an election were held now he would lose badly."
Beloved as "King Bibi" and "Mr Security" by his supporters and condemned as the "crime minister" by critics and protesters, Netanyahu has long dominated Israeli politics.
But the latest opinion polls suggest a drop off in support for the tough-talking Netanyahu and his right-wing Likud party.
Many are bitter over the lack of protection, especially Israelis living in communities near the Gaza border that bore the brunt of the attacks that Israeli officials say killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians.
Under Netanyahu, a former commando unit officer who has always projected himself as a resolute defender of Jews, the sense of security shared by most Israelis has been shattered.
- 'Every decision' -
While military and intelligence agencies have acknowledged security failures, Netanyahu has not accepted any blame for Hamas's surprise attack.
Netanyahu's allies have stayed quiet about his role, and some rivals have joined his war cabinet, defending the Israeli bombing campaign that the Hamas-run health ministry says has killed nearly 9,500 people in the besieged Gaza Strip.
Reuven Hazan, a political science professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, called Netanyahu a "brilliant" politician now playing for time.
"He already knows that he is fighting for his survival and every decision he takes in this war is geared to ensuring his survival."
When asked if he would consider quitting, Netanyahu recently told a news conference: "The only thing I intend to have resigned is Hamas."
But Netanyahu, whose first term in office dates back to 1996, has been forced onto the defensive.
The leader of Israel's most right-wing government in history admitted he would have to give "answers" about the attacks, but only after the war is over.
And he has apologised for a since deleted social media comment accusing the intelligence services of failing to warn him of the Hamas threat.
To get the wily Netanyahu out of office, he will have to resign or lose the parliamentary majority held by the coalition of his party with far-right and ultra-orthodox Jewish parties.
Leading tech tycoon Amnon Shashua has said the Netanyahu administration must be "immediately" ousted over its "failures, dissonance and incompetence".
- 'Damaged' leader -
Pressure on Netanyahu had been building before the attacks, and experts say a showdown is just a question of time.
The premier, who has led Israel for nearly 16 of the past 27 years, is still fighting three corruption cases in court.
The nine months leading up to October 7 saw mass protests over his hardline government's divisive judicial overhaul that opponents called a threat to Israeli democracy.
Israel had been "ripping itself apart" before Hamas's attacks, said Hazan.
But "there is no politics now because of the war", he added.
"At some point politics will come back. Then there will be questions, and then the protests will come back."
When the war ends, the government is likely to order a commission of inquiry -- either a governmental one with relatively little power, or a more independent national commission.
If Netanyahu is found to be at fault over the attacks, his political problem could become critical.
The government has warned the war will take months and Netanyahu is not obliged to call an election for three years, but observers struggle to see him lasting that long.
"Everybody knows that he is damaged," according to Hazan, who said there were "signs" that coalition members "know that the game is up".
Polls indicate Israelis' preferred candidate was now centrist leader Benny Gantz, a minister without portfolio in the war cabinet who was in the opposition before the war erupted.
"Netanyahu's legacy has been shattered by both the division he has sown through the judicial overhaul and the multiple failures that enabled the October 7 attack," said Greene.
"Many Israelis consider these two issues to be linked."
Key moments in Israel's war with Hamas
A war between Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers erupted after the Palestinian Islamist movement launched the worst attack in Israel's 75-year history on October 7.
Israeli officials say more than 1,400 people, mainly civilians, were killed.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said Saturday that 9,488 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli bombardments, including 3,900 children.
- Hamas carnage -
At dawn on October 7, the sabbath and a Jewish holiday, rockets rain down on Israel from Gaza as hundreds of Hamas fighters infiltrate by land, sea and air into southern Israel.
More than 1,400 people, mainly civilians, are killed, according to Israeli officials.
They include 270 mainly young people at a music festival and hundreds more in communities near the Gaza border.
The Hamas fighters take hostage of more than 240 people -- Israelis and foreigners, officials say.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks of "savagery not seen since the Shoah" -- Hebrew for the Holocaust.
He vows to "crush" Hamas, designated a "terrorist organisation" by the United States, Britain, Israel and the European Union.
- Israel retaliates -
Israel rapidly retaliates, pounding Gaza with air strikes as it battles Hamas fighters still inside Israel. It retakes control of the Gaza border area on October 10.
Israel announces a "complete siege" on October 9, cutting off power and food deliveries, then water supplies to Gaza's 2.4 million residents.
On October 13, Israel urges northern Gaza's citizens to move south within 24 hours. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians flee.
The Arab League denounces a "forced transfer".
- Wider regional conflict? -
Further north, Israel exchanges cross-border fire with Lebanon's Hezbollah, a Hamas ally also backed by Iran.
In southern Lebanon, a Reuters video journalist is killed on October 13, and six journalists from AFP, Reuters and Al Jazeera are wounded in a strike.
Lebanon blames Israel.
- Hospital strike -
On October 17, a deadly strike hits Gaza's Al-Ahli hospital.
The Hamas health ministry says at least 471 people were killed. US intelligence sources say "100 to 300" people died.
Israel denies responsibility, blaming a misfired rocket by Islamic Jihadists.
Thousands stage anti-Israel protests across the Arab world.
- Five hostages freed -
On October 20 and 22, four hostages, all women, are released. On October 30, an Israeli soldier, also a woman, is rescued in a ground operation by Israeli forces.
On October 28, Hamas says it is prepared to free hostages in return for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
- First delivery of aid -
The first humanitarian aid trucks enter via Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt on October 21. More than 370 trucks enter by November 3.
- Strikes intensify -
On October 21, Israel intensifies its air strikes.
Iran warns the next day that the Middle East risks spiralling out of control.
- Violations of humanitarian law -
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on October 24 denounces "the clear violations of international humanitarian law" in Gaza.
At least 1.4 million Palestinians have fled their homes since the war began, the UN says.
- Tanks into Gaza -
On October 26 Israeli tanks enter Gaza for several hours.
The UN General Assembly calls the next day for an "immediate humanitarian truce".
International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan on October 29 says preventing access to humanitarian aid could be "a crime".
On October 27 the Israeli army says it has "expanded" its ground operations inside Gaza.
Netanyahu announces "the second stage of the war" aimed at destroying Hamas's military and leadership capabilities and rescuing the hostages.
A ceasefire "will not happen", he says.
On October 31, Israeli forces report "fierce battles" inside Gaza.
- Evacuations to Egypt -
On November 1 Egypt opens the Rafah crossing. Dozens of wounded Palestinians and hundreds of foreigners and dual nationals leave Gaza.
Egypt says it will help evacuate "about 7,000" foreigners and dual nationals.
- Refugee camp bombed -
Between October 31 and November 2 Israel's military strikes northern Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp three times.
Four UN schools sheltering displaced people are also hit.
UN-mandated human rights experts say "time is running out to prevent genocide and humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza".
- Gaza City surrounded -
After almost a week of ground fighting in northern Gaza, Israel's army announces on November 2 it has surrounded Gaza City.
On November 3, Israel begins sending back thousands of Palestinian workers stuck in Israel since hostilities started.
In Tel Aviv, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterates that Israel has the "right" and "obligation" to defend itself, but urges it to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
He says Israel will only gain security through the creation of a Palestinian state.
- Hezbollah warning -
Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warns Israel against attacking Lebanon, saying "all options" are on the table, including "total war".
Hamas says a deadly Israeli strike hit a convoy of ambulances near the territory's largest hospital.
On November 4, Blinken reaffirms US support for "humanitarian pauses" in the fighting, an idea Netanyahu has rejected.
Israeli chief of staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi visits troops on the ground inside Gaza.
Biden says progress on humanitarian pause in Gaza war
US President Joe Biden said Saturday that progress had been made on securing a so-called "humanitarian pause" in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, as his secretary of state worked on the same issue in the Middle East.
When asked if any progress had been made on the issue, Biden replied "yes" as he left a church in Delaware and offered a thumbs up before getting into his vehicle. He did not give any further details.
Earlier Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told reporters in Amman that a humanitarian pause in the fighting would help protect civilians and get more aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.
Thousands march in Europe and Iran protests for Palestinians
Thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters rallied in London, Paris and Berlin on Saturday calling for a ceasefire in Gaza after Iranians took to the streets against the United States and Israel.
- 30,000 protesters in London -
Amid ongoing bombardments by Israel after the deadly Hamas attack on its territory last month killed 1,400 people, the British capital saw a large turnout in support of Palestinians for the fourth consecutive week.
Israel's bombing campaign since the October attack by Hamas has killed nearly 9,500 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in the Gaza Strip.
Police estimated that about 30,000 attended the rally in Trafalgar Square, central London.
They said it had arrested 11 people, including one for displaying a placard that could incite hatred.
Many protesters waved Palestinian flags and held placards calling for an immediate ceasefire.
One group carried a bundle of fabric, representing a dead baby killed during the Israeli bombing campaign.
Sama Dababneh, 26, a Jordanian business consultant said she was tired of all upsetting images from Gaza.
"We came here to support the ceasefire," she said. "We spend the whole week consuming the news and this is very draining, so this is our only form of outlet."
Pro-Palestinian protests also took place in cities across the United Kingdom on Saturday, including in Sheffield, Manchester and Glasgow.
- 'Free Palestine' calls in Paris -
French authorities said 19,000 people demonstrated in Paris, while the CGT communist-led trade union put the numbers at 60,000.
"Free Palestine" placards proliferated in the French capital, where slogans were heard calling for a boycott of Israel along with shouts of "Israel terrorist state".
Legal assistant Leila Gharbi, aged 46, held a Palestinian flag and demanded "an immediate ceasefire".
Her 21-year-old student daughter Ines wanted "the barbary to stop".
Retired 75-year-old Algerian Keltoum Alouache said she turned out "for the children of Gaza and Palestine".
Around forty other demonstrations were called across France, with 5,000 people turning out in the city of Lyon, according to a police estimate.
- Children and families on Berlin streets -
Berlin and Duesseldorf also saw thousands march in solidarity with the Palestinians.
Many protesters came with their families and children.
"Stop genocide" and "Ceasefire" were emblazoned on placards and Palestinian flags were carried aloft.
German police estimated the crowd at 17,000 in Duesseldorf and 9,000 in the capital Berlin, where some 60 arrests were made including on suspicion of incitement to hatred.
Several placards playing down the Holocaust were confiscated.
- 'Down with USA' in Iran -
In Tehran, demonstrators gathered in front of the former US embassy chanting "Down with USA" and "Down with Israel".
They set ablaze an effigy of Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu as well as the US and Israel flags in front of flag-waving crowds.
The demonstrations come on the Islamic republic's "day of the fight against global arrogance".
November 4 marks the day Iranians attacked the US embassy in 1979 and the taking of 52 American diplomats as hostages, which lasted 444 days.
Iran, which backs Hamas, has labelled the Israeli bombardment of Gaza "genocide" and lambasted Washington for its strong support of Israel.
- Biden denounced at Washington protest -
Thousands of protesters in the US capital Washington called for a ceasefire in Gaza, with some slamming President Joe Biden's support for Israel.
It was the largest protest in Washington since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict on October 7.
"This is a massacre, a genocide... a stain on our history, and I cannot accept as a citizen that my taxes are funding this," said 24-year-old Amanda Eisenhour of Virginia.
- Pakistan traders out in force -
In Lahore, Pakistani traders took to the streets in large numbers holding Palestinian flags and placards saying "Save Gaza".
- Senegal too -
Outside the grand mosque in Senegal's capital Dakar, some 200 people gathered to support the Palestinians.
"I'm not here as an Arab or a Muslim," said Farida Samane. "I'm here as a human."