Israel-Hamas war live: US ‘intensely focused’ on hostage release as UK PM says truce breakdown ‘deeply disappointing’ | Israel-Hamas war


US ‘intensely focused’ on hostage release, says Blinken as he blames Hamas for ending truce

The US remains “intensely focused” on freeing all the hostages held in Gaza despite the end of a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said.

Blinken, speaking to reporters on Friday before departing from Dubai, where he was attending the Cop28 climate conference, said Hamas bears responsibility for the truce coming to an end. He said:

It’s also important to understand why the pause came to an end. It came to an end because of Hamas. Hamas reneged on commitments it made.

He pointed to the deadly gun attack in west Jerusalem on Thursday in which three Israeli were killed, which Hamas has claimed responsibility for.

Antony Blinken speaks to the media before leaving Dubai.
Antony Blinken speaks to the media before leaving Dubai. Photograph: Reuters

Blinken said the US remains “intensely focused” on getting the hostages back. “We’re still at this,” he said.

We’re determined to do everything we can to get everyone home, get them reunited with their families, including pursuing the process that worked for seven days. We had seven days of a pause; seven days of people coming home and being reunited with their families. So, we’re on that almost hour by hour.

Key events

Michael Sainato

The United Auto Workers, one of the US’s largest labor unions, has come out in support of a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine.

The UAW is now the largest union to have called for a ceasefire. It represents 400,000 workers in the US and more than 580,000 retired workers.

“I’m proud today to announce that the UAW international has joined the call for a ceasefire in Israel and Palestine,” Brandon Mancilla, UAW director, said at a press conference on Friday outside the White House where protesters have been on hunger strike.

From opposing fascism in WWII to mobilizing against apartheid South Africa and the Contra war, the UAW has consistently stood for justice across the globe. A labor movement that fights for social and economic justice for all workers must always stand against war and for peace.

Ceasefire resolutions among local and national labor unions in the US have been increasing since early October. The American Postal Workers Union, the UE union, the California Nurses Association, the Chicago Teachers Union and several other local unions and worker groups have issued public calls for an immediate and permanent ceasefire.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan also used his formal remarks at the Cop28 summit to criticise Israel for its actions in Gaza.

The Turkish president, addressing leaders at the conference in Dubai, said:

While discussing the climate crisis, we cannot ignore the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Palestinian territories right beside us.

The current situation in Gaza constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity; those responsible must be held accountable under international law.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan delivers a national statement at the World Climate Action Summit during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
Turkish president Tayyip Erdogan delivers a national statement at the World Climate Action Summit during the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates. Photograph: Thaier Al-Sudani/Reuters

South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, echoed the sentiment, Reuters reported. He said:

South Africa is appalled by the cruel tragedy that is under way in Gaza. The war against the innocent people of Palestine is a war crime that must be ended now.

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, told his Emirati counterpart, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, that Israel restarting its attacks on Gaza after the breakdown of the truce was “very negative”, according to his office.

The two leaders met on Friday on the sidelines of the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai, where Erdoğan also met the prime ministers of Japan and Italy to discuss Gaza, as well as with his counterpart from Uzbekistan.

A statement from the Turkish presidency’s office reads:

President Erdoğan, who noted that the restarting of clashes was very negative, said Turkey was working to achieve a lasting ceasefire and for humanitarian aid to reach Gaza.

Israel knew of Hamas attack plan more than a year in advance – report

Israel’s military was aware of Hamas’ plan to launch an attack on Israeli soil more than a year before the bloody 7 October terror attack, according to a report.

Israeli officials obtained an approximately 40-page battle plan by Hamas, code-named “Jericho Wall”, that “outlined, point by point, exactly the kind” of attack that led to more than 1,200 people killed in Israel during the devastating Hamas attacks, the New York Times reported.

The translated document, which was reviewed by The New York Times, did not set a date for the attack, but described a methodical assault designed to overwhelm the fortifications around the Gaza Strip, take over Israeli cities and storm key military bases, including a division headquarters.

The report says the document was circulated widely among Israeli military and intelligence officials, who dismissed the plan as being of a scale and ambition that was beyond Hamas’s capabilities. It was unclear if Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, or other top leaders had seen it.

Hamas “followed the blueprint with shocking precision”, the report says.

The Israeli military declined to comment on the NYT report, saying “questions of this kind will be looked into in a later stage.”

Truce breakdown ‘deeply disappointing’, says Sunak

Rishi Sunak issued renewed calls for “sustained humanitarian pauses” in Gaza as he held talks with Israel’s president and the leaders of Egypt, Qatar and Jordan on the sidelines of the Cop28 summit on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference in Dubai, the UK prime minister said:

The breakdown of the truce today is deeply disappointing, not least because a growing number of hostages were coming home.

He paid tribute to the role of Qatar in helping facilitate the efforts and said he hoped the process could be resumed.

He also called for Israel to take “maximum care” to avoid civilian casualties and said he was opposed to “mass displacement of people”, adding that the UK was exploring options for getting aid to the region by sea.

Speaking to broadcasters earlier, Sunak said:

We’ve been consistent that we want to see sustained humanitarian pauses so that more aid can get in to the people of Gaza but also the hostages can come out. Those are critical ingredients. And, as we’ve said, everyone needs to adhere to the terms of these agreements.

Rishi Sunak stressed the need to “take all possible measures to avoid civilian casualties” in Gaza as he met with Israel’s president, Issac Herzog, on Friday, Downing Street said.

Sunak also reiterated the UK’s “unwavering support” for Israel’s “fundamental right to defend itself against terrorism”, as the pair met on the sidelines of the Cop28 climate summit in Dubai, it said.

A No 10 spokesperson said the two leaders “discussed ongoing efforts to secure the safe release of all hostages, which remains an urgent priority.”

Sunak also “raised the importance of de-escalating tensions in the West Bank to support longer term peace and security,” they said.

UK prime minister Rishi Sunak meets with Israeli president Isaac Herzog at a bilateral meeting during the Cop28 UN climate summit in Dubai.
UK prime minister Rishi Sunak meets with Israeli president Isaac Herzog at a bilateral meeting during the Cop28 UN climate summit in Dubai. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA

The British prime minister also held talks with the leaders of Egypt, Qatar and Jordan to discuss the conflict. No 10 said:

The discussions were focused on practical steps that can now be taken to both bring about more humanitarian pauses so more hostages can be released, how we can get more aid in as well, while also standing by Israel’s right to self-defence.

The official added that there was “obviously shared disappointment and regret among the leaders” regarding the end of the truce.

US secretary of state Antony Blinken, speaking to reporters in Dubai, reiterated his country stood in “strong solidarity with Israeli defending itself”.

Blinken, who met with Israeli and Palestinian officials on Thursday during his third trip to the Middle East since the war began on 7 October, said his visit had been focused on getting the hostages out of Gaza, and on getting humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.

He said he “made clear” that after the end of the truce that “it was imperative that Israel put in place clear protections for civilians and for sustaining humanitarian assistance going forward”.

He said he seen “plans that Israel has in a multiplicity of ways to do everything possible to protect civilians”, adding:

This is going to be very important going forward. It’s something we’re going to be looking at very closely

US ‘intensely focused’ on hostage release, says Blinken as he blames Hamas for ending truce

The US remains “intensely focused” on freeing all the hostages held in Gaza despite the end of a ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas, the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, has said.

Blinken, speaking to reporters on Friday before departing from Dubai, where he was attending the Cop28 climate conference, said Hamas bears responsibility for the truce coming to an end. He said:

It’s also important to understand why the pause came to an end. It came to an end because of Hamas. Hamas reneged on commitments it made.

He pointed to the deadly gun attack in west Jerusalem on Thursday in which three Israeli were killed, which Hamas has claimed responsibility for.

Antony Blinken speaks to the media before leaving Dubai.
Antony Blinken speaks to the media before leaving Dubai. Photograph: Reuters

Blinken said the US remains “intensely focused” on getting the hostages back. “We’re still at this,” he said.

We’re determined to do everything we can to get everyone home, get them reunited with their families, including pursuing the process that worked for seven days. We had seven days of a pause; seven days of people coming home and being reunited with their families. So, we’re on that almost hour by hour.

Oxfam has said it “fears for the lives and futures” of the more than two million people in Gaza who “again face death from renewed missiles and bombs, and from starvation and thirst and disease” after the end of the truce.

In a statement on Friday, the organisation said the seven-day ceasefire allowed more than 1,000 aid trucks to enter Gaza, bringing in food, water, blankets and cooking gas to some people.

But “this was never going to be enough considering that 1.8 million people – or 80% of Gaza’s entire population – has already been displaced”, it said.

Describing the end of the humanitarian pause as a “Band-Aid … ripped away from Gaza’s bleeding wound”, it warned of an “unfolding humanitarian catastrophe” in the besieged territory, compounded by the “spectre of further massed forced displacement” of people from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

It said it was “deeply concerned” about plans to create so-called “safe zones” in southern Gaza, describing them as “not logistically feasible” and said they would “contradict Israel’s obligation to allow unfettered humanitarian access”. The statement concludes:

The international community must use all diplomatic efforts to press for a lasting a ceasefire, ensure access to humanitarian aid via Israel and Egypt to all those that need it and secure the release of remaining hostages.

Israel’s military announced on Friday morning that it was dividing the entirety of Gaza into dozens of numbered blocks as a prelude, it said, to demanding targeted local evacuations in the crowded south of the strip before planned bombing.

It dropped leaflets on to Gaza with a QR code to a website with a map of all the areas and geolocating people within them.

The map divides the besieged enclave into 620 small numbered zones, which it will use to order forced evacuations. The Israeli military has told Gaza residents to “keep following the map carefully” and move to specific places when told “to protect their safety”.

Map

Dan Sabbagh

Dan Sabbagh

Israel’s Defense Forces waited just four minutes after the truce expired at 7am before restarting bombing, according to one resident of Khan Younis.

An hour later, its military set out its plan for the “next stage of the war”: dividing Gaza into dozens of numbered “evacuation areas”, a core part of the military’s plan to gradually take control of the southern part of the strip.

The military’s plan, canvassed privately this week, is to avoid a repeat of the blanket bombing of the northern Gaza in the crowded south, with sequential, targeted bombing campaigns.

Under the plan, people in certain numbered districts of Gaza will be told to evacuate before bombing begins, although how much time they will get is not clear; homes in Khan Younis were among the targets struck on Friday hours after the truce expired, and residents were given little if any time to flee.

Israel’s military dropped leaflets into Khan Younis on Friday morning, warning people in certain districts to evacuate and that the city was now “a dangerous combat zone” and telling them that people should take shelter in Rafah farther south. It also featured a QR code linked to a website mapping all the numbered districts and asking residents for their device’s location.

Israel’s military remains determined to target Khan Younis because it believes Hamas’s leadership, led by Yahya Sinwar, is based in tunnels underneath the city. “The aim of the phase we are currently in is the destruction of the military capability of Hamas,” said Tamir Hayman, a former IDF major general, who has returned to provide advice to former colleagues. At some point, after a certain level of bombing, a ground operation is anticipated.

However, the new military approach threatens to turn an already desperate humanitarian situation in the crowded south into an utterly dire one. An estimated 2 million people now live in the south, half of whom were evacuated from the north. Jason Lee, Palestine country director for Save the Children, said he visited a shelter in Khan Younis two days ago: “It was designed for 1,000 people, but has 35,000 in it. There are 600 people for every toilet.”

Two people have been killed during Israeli shelling in southern Lebanon, according to reports, as the end of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas prompted a resumption of hostilities at the border.

Hezbollah said it had carried out several attacks on Israeli military positions at the border on Friday, Reuters reported.

The Iran-backed Lebanese group released statements claiming five attacks on Israeli military positions at the border, and claimed they were “in support of our steadfast Palestinian people … and its valiant and honourable resistance”.

A senior Hezbollah politician, Hassan Fadlallah, earlier said the group was vigilant and ready after the Hamas-Israel truce ended.

The Israeli army said its artillery struck sources of fire from Lebanon and air defences had intercepted two launches. The army also said it struck a “terrorist cell”.

A woman and her son were killed by an Israeli artillery shell in the town of Houla in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar TV reported.

Here are some of the latest images from the newswires from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, after Israel renewed strikes across the region that health officials in the territory said had killed at least 109 people.

A Palestinian woman wounded in an Israeli strike is helped into Nasser hospital in Khan Younis.
A Palestinian woman wounded in an Israeli strike is helped into Nasser hospital in Khan Younis. Photograph: Reuters
Medics attend to a Palestinian girl wounded in Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis.
Medics attend to a Palestinian girl wounded in Israeli bombardment in Khan Younis. Photograph: Fatima Shbair/AP
A Palestinian woman at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Khan Younis.
A Palestinian woman at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Khan Younis. Photograph: Mohammed Salem/Reuters





Source link

Rate this post

Leave a Comment