All the latest developments from the Israel Hamas war.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed his country is preparing a ground invasion of Gaza, and that “we are working against the clock” in preparations to destroy Hamas.
“We are in a war for our sovereignty, for our existence, and we have set ourselves two fundamental objectives: to eradicate Hamas’s military and governmental capabilities and to do everything possible to bring the hostages held by the Palestinian Islamist group back home,” Netanyahu said in a televised address.
He did not give any details on when this operation would begin.
The prime minister also conceded that he will be held accountable for the bloody 7 October massacre by Hamas militants, but that will only come after Israel’s Gaza campaign.
“October 7 is a black day in our history,” he said. “We will get to the bottom of what happened on the southern border around Gaza. This debacle will be investigated. Everyone will have to give answers, including me.”
Relief operations in jeopardy as Israel airstrikes increase
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees says its relief operations across the Gaza Strip will need to be sharply curtailed amid crippling Israeli airstrikes.
Hospitals in Gaza are doing their best to provide treatment to the wounded with diminishing resources.
The war, in its 19th day, is the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Hamas-run Health Ministry said Wednesday that at least 6,546 Palestinians have been killed and 17,439 others wounded.
In the occupied West Bank, more than 100 Palestinians have been killed and 1,650 wounded in violence and Israeli raids since 7 October.
Death tolls cannot be independently verified, as Hamas says it tallies its figures from hospital directors.
More than 1,400 people in Israel have been killed, according to Israeli officials, mostly civilians who died in the initial Hamas rampage. Israel’s military on Wednesday raised the number of remaining hostages in Gaza to 222 people, including foreigners believed captured by Hamas during the incursion. Four hostages have been released.
Meanwhile France is sending a Navy ship to bring aid to hospitals in the Gaza Strip.
The ship will leave the French military port of Toulon, in the Mediterranean Sea, within 48 hours, President Emmanuel Macron said.
In addition, a French plane will arrive in Egypt Thursday to deliver medical equipment via a convoy to Gaza.
Macron made the announcements during in Cairo as part of a two-day tour to the Midele East that started with a visit to Israel meant to show France’s support and solidarity following the Hamas attack on 7 October.
The trip included a stop in Ramallah, in the West Bank, to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and another stop Wednesday morning in Jordan to have talks with King Abdullah II.
Israel accuses UN chief of justifying terrorism
Israeli officials were outraged Wednesday over UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ comment that the deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel “did not happen in a vacuum,” calling it justification for terrorism.
Foreign Minister Eli Cohen cancelled a scheduled meeting with Guterres, posting on X” “There is no place for a balanced approach. Hamas must be erased off the face of the planet!”
Israel’s envoy to the UN Gilad Erdan called for his resignation, saying Israel must rethink its relations with the world body.
“We will refuse to grant visas to UN representatives. We have already refused to give one to Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs Martin Griffiths,” Erdan told Army Radio, accusing Guterres of justifying a slaughter. “It’s time to teach them a lesson.”
Israel has historically had tense relations with the UN, accusing it of bias.
On Tuesday, Guterres addressed a special Security Council meeting on the Israel-Hamas war that was sparked by the militant group’s 7 October attack, which left at least 1,400 Israelis dead, and more than 220 taken hostage.
Israeli airstrikes have destroyed large swaths of the Gaza enclave, leaving at least 6,500 Palestinians killed, including over 2,700 children, according to the Hamas-run Health Ministry.
The UN chief told the council that he “condemned unequivocally the horrifying and unprecedented” attack.
“Nothing can justify the deliberate killing, injuring and kidnapping of civilians — or the launching of rockets against civilian targets,” he said.
But his contextualisation of the attack created an uproar in Israel. It was important, Guterres said, to acknowledge that “the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum.”
Israeli airstrikes hit targets in Syria
Israeli strikes hit several military sites in southern Syria on Wednesday, killing eight soldiers and wounding seven others, according to state media.
The airstrikes targeted the Daraa countryside overnight and came from the direction of Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, the SANA state-run news agency said, citing military officials.
The Israeli military said in a post on X that its fighter jets struck “military infrastructure and mortar launchers” of the Syrian army “in response to rocket launches from Syria toward Israel yesterday.”
Since the war between Israel and Hamas started on 7 October, tensions have spiked in the region.
Israel has carried out several reported strikes in Syria including two on the Damascus airport and three on Aleppo’s airport, putting them out of service.
Israel has targeted airports and sea ports in the government-held parts of Syria in an apparent attempt to prevent arms shipments from Iran to militant groups backed by Tehran, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah.
‘Collective duty to stop bloodshed’, says Palestinian FM
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki has called on world leaders at a high-level UN meeting “to stop … the ongoing massacres being deliberately and systematically and savagely perpetrated by Israel.”
“Over 2 million Palestinians are on a survival mission every day, every night,” he added.
Under international law, al-Maliki said, “it is our collective human duty to stop” the Israeli attacks and bloodshed.
Israel, for its part, vowed to destroy Hamas, rejecting calls for a cease-fire from the UN, Palestinians and many countries.
It said the war in Gaza is not merely its own but “the war of the free world.”
Israel’s Foreign Minister Eli Cohen also dismissed calls for “proportionality” in the country’s response to Hamas’ surprise attacks on 7 Oct that killed 1,400 people.
More than 5,700 Palestinians have since been killed in Gaza, according to its Health Ministry.
Cohen told the UN Security Council the proportionate response to the militant group’s attack on southern Israel is “a total destruction to the last one of the Hamas,” calling the extremist group “the new Nazis.”
“It is not only Israel’s right to destroy Hamas. It’s our duty,” he said.
UNRWA says operations will halt on Wednesday night due to lack of fuel
The UN’s agency for the relief of Palestinian refugees last night warned it would be forced to halt its operations in Gaza due to a lack of fuel as of Wednesday night.
In response, Israel’s military posted a picture of what it said were fuel tanks inside Gaza.
“They contain more than 500,000 litres of fuel,” it wrote. “Ask Hamas if you can have some.”
UNRWA’s director general Philippe Lazzarini had already warned on Sunday that the organisation’s fuel would run out on Wednesday.
“Without fuel, there will be no water, no functioning hospitals and bakeries. Without fuel, aid will not reach those in desperate need. Without fuel, there will be no humanitarian assistance. No fuel will further strangle the children, women and people of Gaza,” he said.
US fighter jets arrive in Middle East
The New Jersey Air National Guard’s 119 Expeditionary Fighter Squadron arrived in the Middle East on Tuesday, Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder told reporters.
The squadron has F-16 fighter jets, and officials would not say where exactly it went.
Ryder also said the US is preparing for an increase in violence, noting there have already been at least 13 attacks against troops and installations in Iraq and Syria.
“What we are seeing is the prospect for more significant escalation against US forces and personnel across the region in the very near term coming from Iranian proxy forces and ultimately from Iran,” he said during a Pentagon briefing.