Vast tunnels uncovered under Gaza


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A “vast tunnel network” under Gaza City included command and control positions, meeting rooms and hideout apartments for top Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh, the Israeli military says.

The military released videos showing underground structures with concrete walls, ventilation systems and blast doors. Peter Lerner, an Israeli army spokesman, said Wednesday that some of the rooms were more than 60 feet underground with elevators, stairs and separate water and electricity shafts. Enough water, food, weapons and communications equipment were stored for a lengthy say, he said. One room was more than 160 yard wide.

The tunnels were a “center of power for the military and political factions of Hamas,” Lerner said.

The military said the complex was centered on Palestine Square in central Gaza City, under stores, government offices and civilian apartment buildings. Some of the more than 100 hostages freed by Hamas said they were held are transported through tunnels.

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Developments:

∎ War cabinet minister Benny Gantz, a possible successor to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said he expects military activity in Gaza to be reduced soon. But he said Israel has “no intention to stop the fighting until the return of the abductees, and we will change the reality in the south (of Gaza) as well as in the north.”

∎The United Nations Security Council planned to vote Thursday on a cease-fire resolution calling for more humanitarian aid into the devastated Gaza Strip. The vote has been delayed daily since Monday while sponsors negotiate to find wording the U.S. would not veto.

∎ Dozens of rockets slammed into Israel from Gaza and Hezbollah camps in Lebanon, ending a quiet run of more than 24 hours that had many Israelis hoping a cease-fire might be near. Hamas issued a statement reiterating its position that it won’t discuss releasing hostages until Israel halts its invasion of Gaza.

More than a quarter of Gaza households face “extreme” hunger, and there is a risk of famine unless access to adequate food, clean water, health and sanitation services is restored, a U.N. report released Thursday warned. More than 575,000 people have exhausted their food supplies and coping capacities and face catastrophic hunger, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification report said. Cindy McCain, the agency’s executive director said the U.N. has been warning of a coming catastrophe for weeks.

“Tragically, without the safe, consistent access we have been calling for, the situation is desperate, and no one in Gaza is safe from starvation,” McCain said.

The recent seven-day pause showed humanitarian aid can flow when the conditions allow, she said. The reopening of the Kerem Shalom border crossing also can help if aid personnel can work safely.

“More than anything, what is needed now is peace,” she said. “The world must come together now to save lives.”

Palestinian militants won’t negotiate further prisoner-hostage swaps until the Israeli “aggression” on Gaza ends, Hamas said in a statement Thursday. The announcement appeared to blow up a deal the Wall Street Journal said Israel had proposed that would have created another one-week cease-fire in exchange for the release of about 40 more hostages. More than 100 captives remain in militant custody.

The militant group has issued similar edicts in recent days, although the arrival of the leader of the Hamas political wing, Ismail Haniyeh, in Egypt for talks Wednesday had fueled chatter that negotiations for a cease-fire and hostage deal could be underway.

“There is a Palestinian national decision that there should be no talk about prisoners or exchange deals except after a full cessation of aggression,” the latest militant statement said.

The Oct. 7 attack by Hamas on Israeli communities bordering Gaza that killed 1,200 people will “significantly” delay a long-awaited Palestinian state but doesn’t mean the idea is dead, Israel’s opposition leader says. Yair Lapid also told the Saudi-based Al Majalla he believes Israel needs centrist politics as opposed to the far-right direction of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has shown little support for a two-state solution. But Lapid says he agrees with Netanyahu that Hamas must be eradicated as an organization and an ideology for lasting peace to come to the Middle East.

“We (Israelis) are here to stay,” he said. “The one thing that the Arab world must understand is we are not guests in the Middle East. Hezbollah and Hamas are the ones who are going to disappear.”

The U.N. Human Rights Office is demanding Israel conduct an immediate, independent investigation into a report that soldiers summarily killed at least 11 unarmed Palestinian men in front of their family members in Gaza City this week.

Israeli troops on Tuesday reportedly surrounded and raided a home in the city’s Al Remal neighborhood where four families were sheltering, the U.N. agency said in a statement Wednesday. According to Al Jazeera and the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, the soldiers allegedly separated the men from the women and children and then shot and killed at least 11 of the men in front of their family members, the U.N. agency said.

Survivors shared details of the alleged carnage with Al Jazeera, including women who said at least one child was killed and others were wounded by Israeli gunfire.

Euro-Med, a Swiss-based advocacy group, said 13 members of the Anan family and their displaced in-laws were killed and that other family members were critically wounded. Euro-Med said it had received similar reports about alleged atrocities committed by Israeli forces in other areas, including killings and executions of civilians “without reason.”

The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the alleged attack.

UN Security Council again delays vote: Aid resolution not resolved; Gaza death toll tops 20K

Yamaan Saadeh, a neurosurgeon at the University of Michigan, says he just wants to know his family is safe. His 70-year-old father, stepmother and three sisters are trapped in southern Gaza, where the situation is deteriorating as civilians are caught in the crossfire between Israel and Hamas. They have found shelter in a house with one bathroom they are sharing with 50 other people.

All three of Saadeh’s sisters were valedictorians of their classes and study medicine in Gaza. Since the war broke out, they have had to put their studies on hold, Saadeh says.

“They’re barely staying alive,” Saadeh said. “My dad has lost some hearing because of the bombing. His health is OK, but there’s also the frailty that comes with age, and this situation.” Read more here.

Phaedra Trethan

A US neurosurgeon’s anguish: His family trapped in Gaza is ‘barely staying alive’

Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir called for disbanding the government’s War Cabinet and threatened to pull his right-wing Otzma Yehudit party out of the ruling coalition amid speculation that the military operation in Gaza may soon be eased. Losing the party’s support would be a political blow to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has drawn sharp criticism following the militant attack Oct. 7 that resulted in 1,200 deaths in Israel and the seizing of more than 240 hostages, more than half of whom remain are still being held in Gaza.

The U.S. and most of the world have been pressing Israel to roll back its assault, which the local Health Ministry says has taken more than 20,000 Palestinian lives.

“If someone intends, God forbid, to curb the (operation) before Hamas has been defeated and all the abductees have been returned – let them take into account that Otzma Yehudit is not with them,” Gvir said on social media. “The idea of ​​reducing operations in Gaza is the war management failure of the reduced cabinet. It must be disbanded immediately.”

Contributing: The Associated Press





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