Israeli forces pushed deeper into the southern city of Khan Yuonis on Thursday as fighting continued in areas of northern Gaza.
Tens of thousands of refugees have streamed into Rafah at the southern tip of Gaza, where conditions are described as “desperate” by local aid workers. Schools run by the UNRWA United Nations refugee agency are full and the new refugees are sleeping outside.
Israel confirmed that one of its soldiers killed in Thursday’s fighting was Gal Eisenkot, son of war cabinet member Gadi Eisenkot, Israel’s former top general and a member of the centrist National Unity party, which joined the emergency government after the start of the war.
Israel released images on Thursday afternoon showing what it said were dozens of Hamas fighters who surrendered close to Jabalya in northern Gaza. The men were stripped down to their underwear with their hands bound behind their backs and taken away in lorries.
About 120,000 litres of diesel entered Gaza on Thursday after Israel’s security cabinet agreed to a US request to raise the ceiling of the amount of fuel allowed in daily. Israel is expected to further increase the daily ceiling to 180,000 litres.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken said that the United States is determined to help Israel and will provide it with the necessary means so that the events of October 7th never happen again. At the same time, he stressed that the administration would make every effort to help the civilians in the Gaza Strip who are in desperate need of humanitarian aid.
Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry says that more than 17,000 Palestinians have been killed and 46,000 injured since the October 7th attack on Israel. Some 1,200 people were killed and 240 kidnapped when heavily armed gunmen stormed across the border, entering 22 communities in southern Israel.
According to Egyptian media reports, the head of Hamas’s political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, confirmed the movement’s “willingness to resume negotiations for the exchange of all prisoners and to reach a comprehensive agreement if the fighting in Gaza stops”.
An estimated 138 people remain in Hamas captivity. According to Egyptian sources, Israeli officials discussed the possibility of a new hostage release deal that includes women soldiers, elderly civilians and wounded soldiers. In addition, it was hinted that Israel would meet Hamas’s demands for the release of sick and elderly Palestinian security prisoners, including those convicted of killing Israelis.
An Israeli civilian was killed when an anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon landed in western Galilee on Thursday. Israel responded with heavy fire in to south Lebanon, killing two Hizbullah fighters. Tens of thousands of residents on both sides of the border have fled, fearing an all-out war. Close to 100 Hizbullah gunmen have already been killed and Israel has deployed huge reinforcements along the border.
Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu again warned Hizbullah that further escalation risks a disaster for Lebanon. Visiting military headquarters on the northern border on Thursday, he said that if the Iranian-backed Hizbullah starts an all-out war against Israel, “then it will single-handedly turn Beirut and southern Lebanon, not far from here, into Gaza and Khan Younis.”
Right-wing extremists, escorted by a huge police presence, marched through the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s old city on Thursday night, for a rally at the Western Wall. The organisers said that their goal was to remove the Waqf, the Islamic Trust, from the Temple Mount, revered by Muslims as the Haram al-Sharif, and to restore full Jewish control over Jerusalem.
The event was condemned by Israeli politicians as a provocation that could further inflame tensions.
Amnesty International said on Thursday that Israeli strikes that killed Reuters journalist Issam Abdallah and wounded six others in south Lebanon on October 13th were likely to have been a direct attack on civilians and must be investigated as a war crime.
Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a separate report, said the two Israeli strikes were “an apparently deliberate attack on civilians and thus a war crime”, saying those responsible must be held to account.
A Reuters investigation published on Thursday found an Israeli tank crew killed Mr Abdallah and wounded the six other journalists by firing two shells in quick succession from Israel while the group were filming cross-border shelling from a distance.
An Israeli government spokesperson denied Israeli forces targeted non-combatants.
– Additional reporting: Reuters