Latest Update on Israel-Hamas Conflict: Netanyahu Warns Troops, Gaza Residents Seek Refuge in Southern Areas

‘Next stage is coming,’ Netanyahu tells troops

“The next stage is coming,” the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told troops today.

He was speaking in southern Israel, in a video posted by his office.

“We’re all ready,” the prime minister wrote on social media.

עם הלוחמים שלנו בעוטף עזה, בקו החזית. כולנו מוכנים.

(צילום: אבי אוחיון, לע״מ)

— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) October 14, 2023

Key events

Israeli military preparing for ‘significant ground operations’

The Israeli military announced on Saturday that its forces are preparing to implement a wide range of operational offensive plans, Reuters reports.

It also announced that its forces have been deployed throughout Israel and is preparing for the next stages “with an emphasis on significant ground operations”.

The Scottish government has announced that it will provide £500,000 towards the UN Relief and Works Agency’s appeal amid the increasingly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza.

On Saturday, Scotland’s international development minister, Christina McKelvie, confirmed that the funding, saying:

Our thoughts are with all the innocent people caught in the middle of escalating conflict in Israel and Gaza. The Scottish government reiterates the call from the first minister and the UN secretary-general for a humanitarian corridor to be established so that urgent assistance can be given to those civilians who are trapped, helpless and cannot leave.”

Tamara Alrifai, a UNRWA spokespersonm thanked the Scottish government, saying:

“This generous contribution is an incredibly humane gesture towards tens of thousands of people who are in utter distress in the Gaza Strip. UNRWA is very grateful for the show of support by Scotland and will use every penny to help alleviate the suffering of civilian women, children and men in Gaza.”

Lebanon said on Saturday that Israel had launched a deadly strike on Friday that killed a Reuters journalist and injured six other journalists from Agence France-Presse, Reuters and Al Jazeera.

The Lebanese army said in a statement that “the Israeli enemy fired a rocket shell that hit a civilian car belonging to a media team, leading to the death of Issam Abdallah”, AFP reports.

Lebanon’s foreign ministry called the strike a “deliberate killing” and a “crime against freedom of speech and journalism”.

Fatima Kanso, Abdallah’s mother, said: “Israel deliberately killed my son. They were all wearing journalists’ gear and the word ‘press’ was visible. Israel cannot deny this crime,’” Reuters reports.

The AFP photographer Christina Assi and AFP video journalist Dylan Collins were among the six journalists wounded.

“We were filming smoke billowing from Israeli artillery fire targeting a distant hill in front of us,” Collins told the AFP, adding, “There was no military activity in our direct vicinity and no artillery fire near us.”

Al Jazeera has also accused Israel of launching the deadly strike, which injured its reporter Carmen Joukhadar. Joukhadar said she and her colleagues had been filming footage on a hill “in an open-air area, without any military sites near us”.

AFP reports Joukhadar running to her car for shelter when the first strike landed. “Then I thought I shouldn’t be close to the car, so I ran and the second strike hit” the vehicle, Joukhadar said.

An Israeli military spokesperson said that the military was looking into the circumstances surrounding the deadly strikes.

Saudi Arabia is reported to have suspended normalisation talks with Israel, a source tells Agence France-Presse.

“Saudi Arabia has decided to pause discussion on possible normalisation and has informed US officials,” the source told AFP, which reports that the source spoke the same day US secretary of state Antony Blinken met in Riyadh with his Saudi counterpart, Faisal bin Farhan.

Following the meeting, the Saudi foreign ministry called for “an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and its surroundings” and the urgent delivery of humanitarian aid.

UN aid chief: Gaza humanitarian situation “becoming untenable”

The UN’s under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths, has warned that the humanitarian situation in Gaza is “fast becoming untenable”.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Griffiths said:

“In Gaza, families have been bombed while inching their way south along congested, damaged roads, following an evacuation order that left hundreds of thousands of people scrambling for safety but with nowhere to go.

Nearly 2,000 people have been killed and many more have been injured. There is no power, no water and no fuel. Food supplies are running dangerously low. Hospitals, overwhelmed with patients, are running out of medicine …

Even wars have rules, and these rules must be upheld, at all times, and by all sides. Civilians and civilian infrastructure, including humanitarian workers and assets, must be protected.

Civilians must be allowed to leave for safer areas. And whether they move or stay, constant care must be taken to spare them.”

European Commission to triple humanitarian aid for Gaza

Latest Update on Israel-Hamas Conflict: Netanyahu Warns Troops, Gaza Residents Seek Refuge in Southern Areas

Lili Bayer

The European Commission announced this afternoon that it will triple humanitarian aid for Gaza. The move comes after the EU faced criticism for conflicting messaging from its senior leadership.

The commission’s president, Ursula von der Leyen, spoke with the UN secretary general, António Guterres, today, the commission said.

“The commission will immediately increase the current humanitarian aid envelope foreseen for Gaza by €50m,” Von der Leyen said in a statement. “This will bring the total to over €75m.”

The commission chief added:

“We will continue our close cooperation with the UN and its agencies to ensure that this aid reaches those in need in the Gaza Strip. The commission supports Israel’s right to defend itself against the Hamas terrorists, in full respect of international humanitarian law. We are working hard to ensure that innocent civilians in Gaza are provided support in this context.”

Gaza civilians afraid to leave home after bombing ‘safe routes’

A convoy of vehicles carrying fleeing civilians from Gaza to the southern half of the strip, which was traveling on a road marked as a “safe route”, has been struck by a deadly airstrike, according to analysis.

The Guardian’s Bethan McKernan and Sufian Taha report:

The Friday afternoon bombing in Gaza City, which killed a reported 70 people including children and which Hamas blamed on Israel, occurred on Salah-al-Din Road, a main thoroughfare in the overcrowded enclave, home to a trapped population of 2.3 million people.

Forensic Architecture, a London-based research agency, and its partner investigations unit at the Palestinian human rights organisation al-Haq, used aerial photos and social media posts to geolocate the site of the strike, sharing its findings with the Guardian. The BBC’s Verify unit also came to the same conclusion.

Video and pictures of the aftermath of the attack show 12 dead bodies, most of whom are women and children as young as about two years old, and several damaged vehicles.

The Palestinian health ministry said that 70 people were killed on the road, which was filled with traffic as Palestinians tried to adhere to Israeli orders given early on Friday to evacuate the northern half of Gaza.

Shadows and the position of the sun suggest the attack on the civilian convoy occurred at about 5.30pm. At 6.03pm, in social media posts, the IDF identified the exact same road in an infographic as the safe route to follow the Israeli evacuation directive for about half of the strip’s population to travel south of the Gaza River, which is just south of Gaza City.

For further details, click here:

Summary of the past hours

  • Thousands of Palestinians have continued to leave northern Gaza and cram into already crowded schools, homes and makeshift shelters in the south, as Israeli airstrikes pound the blockaded strip ahead of an expected ground invasion.

  • The US president, Joe Biden, said Washington “is working with the governments of Israel, Egypt, Jordan – and with the UN – to surge support to ease the humanitarian consequences of Hamas’s attack, create conditions needed to resume the flow of assistance, and advocate for the upholding of the law of war.”

  • The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told troops in southern Israel that “the next stage is coming.”

  • Lebanon’s Hezbollah took responsibility for firing guided missiles and mortar shells toward Israel. In response, the Israel Defense Forces hit targets in Lebanese territory. Residents of multiple northern Israeli communities have been instructed to take shelter.

  • The US state department advised US citizens in Gaza to move south toward the Rafah border crossing with Egypt as diplomats try to negotiate a five-hour opening to allow civilians out of the blockaded enclave.

  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) called on the Israeli authorities “to protect all civilians who have been sheltering” in its premises in the Gaza Strip and said that its shelters “are not safe any more”.

  • The UNRWA also warned that “clean water is running out” in Gaza.

  • Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s ambassador to the UN and international organisations in Geneva, has insisted that Israel is complying with international humanitarian law.

  • Thousands of people have joined a pro-Palestine rally in central London over the Israel-Hamas war.

  • The death toll in Gaza has risen to at least 2,215, with 8,714 wounded, the local health ministry said.

  • Israel’s death toll is at over 1,300, the Israeli authorities said, with more than 3,360 injured.

  • Sirens have continued sounding in southern and central Israel.

Anniken Huitfeldt, Norway’s foreign minister, said she is joining warnings from the UN secretary general, António Guterres, and the EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borell, “about the danger of a mass movement of people inside Gaza”.

“International humanitarian law must be respected,” she said.

I join warnings by @antonioguterres and @JosepBorrellF about the danger of a mass movement of people inside Gaza.

International humanitarian law must be respected.

Humanitarian access must be ensured.

And civilians must be protected and never used as shields.

— Anniken Huitfeldt (@AHuitfeldt) October 14, 2023

Edward Helmore

In an updated advisory for Israel, Gaza and the West Bank on Saturday, the US state department said it had authorised the departure of non-essential US government personnel owing to “the unpredictable security situation in Israel”.

The department had already advised US citizens to reconsider travel to Israel and the West Bank due to “terrorism and civil unrest” and not to travel to Gaza due to “terrorism, civil unrest and armed conflict”.

‘Next stage is coming,’ Netanyahu tells troops

“The next stage is coming,” the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, told troops today.

He was speaking in southern Israel, in a video posted by his office.

“We’re all ready,” the prime minister wrote on social media.

עם הלוחמים שלנו בעוטף עזה, בקו החזית. כולנו מוכנים.

(צילום: אבי אוחיון, לע״מ)

— Benjamin Netanyahu – בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) October 14, 2023

Turkey stands with Egypt in rejecting the exile of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, the Turkish foreign minister, Hakan Fidan, said during a visit to Cairo, Reuters reported.

US tells Americans in Gaza to move toward Rafah crossing

Edward Helmore

The US state department advised US citizens in Gaza to move south toward the Rafah border crossing with Egypt as diplomats try to negotiate a five-hour opening to allow civilians out of the blockaded enclave.

A senior department official traveling with the secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said that the US was “trying to facilitate” an agreement with governments in the region to open the Egyptian-controlled gate, CBS reported. Earlier this week Egypt denied it had closed the crossing and accused Israel of blocking access on the Palestinian side with shelling and airstrikes.

“We have informed US citizens in Gaza with whom we are in contact that if they assess it to be safe, they may wish to move closer to the Rafah border crossing,” a spokesperson told CBS and other outlets, adding that “there may be very little notice if the crossing opens and it may only open for a limited time”.

The official said the department was “in touch” with a number of the 500 to 600 US-Palestinian dual nationals who had expressed interest in receiving information about leaving and had been working with Egypt, Israel and Qatar to open the crossing.

However, the official warned that it was “not clear at all if Hamas was going to allow people to make it to Rafah”.

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

After Hezbollah fired guided missiles and mortar shells, Israel retaliated by shelling the outskirts the Lebanese villages around Shaba’a.

Twenty-eight Palestinian medics have been killed in Israeli airstrikes since 7 October, the local health authorities have said, Reuters reports.

Sirens have sounded in central and southern Israel.

Two charter flights have now left Israel as efforts to help Britons leave the country continue, the UK Foreign Office has confirmed.

A British government spokesperson said: “Two flights facilitated by the UK government have now departed Israel.

“Further flights are expected to leave in the coming days while commercial options are limited.”

It was reported on Friday night that citizens trying to escape were seeing their flights repeatedly cancelled by the British government, while US and Australian emergency flights landed in UK airports.

This was because ministers ran into problems obtaining insurance, an aviation source told the PA news agency. Late on Friday it appeared the government had turned to using military transport.

Israel is continuing to carry out strikes in Lebanese territory after about 30 mortar shells were fired from Lebanon toward Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said.

בהמשך לדיווח הראשוני על שיגורים לעבר הר דב, זוהו כ-30 פצצות מרגמה ששוגרו לעבר שטח ישראל, חלקם חצו לשטחינו. צה”ל תקף בתגובה את מקורות הירי וממשיך לתקוף בשטח לבנון כעת.

בזמן התקיפות זוהתה חוליית מחבלים שעל פי החשד התכוונה לירות טיל נ”ט לעבר מדינת ישראל. כלי טיס תקף את החוליה.

— דובר צה״ל דניאל הגרי – Daniel Hagari (@IDFSpokesperson) October 14, 2023


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