Saturday, June 22, 2024

Netanyahu, Gantz agree to form emergency unity govt and war cabinet

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz on Wednesday agreed to form an emergency unity government and war cabinet. In Gaza, officials have reported more than 1,200 people killed in Israel’s uninterrupted campaign of air and artillery strikes, while the UN said more than 338,000 people have been displaced. At least 1,200 Israelis were killed in Hamas’s attack on Saturday. Read our live blog to see how all the day’s events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

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11:15pm: Germany clears Israel’s use of two Heron TP combat drones

Germany has given Israel the go-ahead to use two Heron TP combat drones in its counter-attack against Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, a defence source told Reuters on Wednesday, confirming a report by Spiegel magazine.

Germany has leased five of these drones from Israel’s arms maker IAI ISRAI.UL, with two of them still deployed in Israel for training German drone pilots, the source said.

German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius on Wednesday approved a request by Israel to use the drones, Spiegel reported, adding the 16 German pilots in training were returning home because of the Hamas attack.

11:05pm: Biden calls Hamas attacks the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust as US death toll ticks up

President Joe Biden on Wednesday condemned the weekend attack by Hamas militants on Israel as the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust as the number of US citizens killed in the fighting ticked up to at least 22.

“This attack was a campaign of pure cruelty – not just hate, but pure cruelty – against the Jewish people,” Biden told Jewish leaders gathered at the White House.

Beyond the 22 known to have been killed, the State Department said at least 17 more Americans remain unaccounted for in a war that has already claimed more than 2,200 lives on both sides. A “handful” of US citizens are among the estimated 150 hostages captured by Hamas militants during their shocking weekend assault on Israel, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday.

11:00pm: Blinken heads to Israel to show US solidarity, seek deterrence

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken headed to Israel on Wednesday on a Middle East mission to prevent a wider war from erupting after an attack and hostage-taking by Palestinian Hamas militants and an Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

In a show of solidarity with Washington’s closest Middle East ally, Blinken was due to meet senior Israeli officials, possibly including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to discuss further boosting military support.

“I’m going with a very simple and clear message … that the United States has Israel’s back,” Blinken told reporters before boarding a plane bound for Israel.

10:30pm: Saudi crown prince stresses kingdom making efforts to stop Gaza escalation

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman stressed in a phone call with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that the kingdom is making “unremitting efforts” regionally and internationally to stem an escalation of the Israeli-Hamas war, the Saudi state news agency said in a statement.

The crown prince asserted the need to stop the Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip, said the statement. He also stressed the kingdom’s firm position on supporting the Palestinian cause and its efforts to achieve a comprehensive and just peace.

10:11pm: ‘Every member of Hamas is a dead man,’ Netanyahu says

Announcing the formation of a unity government in a late night TV appearance, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to keep fighting Hamas. “Every member of Hamas is a dead man,” he said.

“Hamas is Daesh [Islamic State group] and we will crush them and destroy them as the world has destroyed Daesh,” he said in a brief televised statement, the first delivered jointly with his war cabinet.

Netanyahu also detailed some of the atrocities that took place during the Hamas attack. He said boys and girls were shot in the head and that people had been burned alive.

10:01pm: UN Security Council to meet on Israel, Gaza on Friday

The UN Security Council will meet on Friday afternoon, diplomats said, to discuss the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza.

The council has not yet decided if the meeting will be public, diplomats said. The 15-member body met behind closed-doors on Sunday, a day after the Hamas incusion into Israel.

9:30pm: Erdogan launches hostage release talks, says Turkish media

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has launched a negotiation process with Hamas seeking the release of Israeli hostages who were kidnapped by the Palestinian militant group, according to Turkish media reports.

“They are negotiating to secure the release of the hostages,” an official source told AFP, confirming a report by the private TV channel Haberturk.

9:11pm: UNRWA seeks $104 milllion for urgent aid to Gaza

The UN’s Palestinian refugee agency said it was seeking $104 million for life-saving aid to Gaza.

UNRWA is urgently seeking US$ 104 million to enable its multi-sectoral humanitarian response over the coming 90 days,” the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a statement.

“The requested funds will cover the urgent immediate food, non-food, health, shelter and protection needs of up to 250,000 persons seeking safety in UNRWA shelters across the ravaged Gaza Strip and another 250,000 Palestine refugees within the community.”

9:01pm: ‘The psychological impact is huge’

FRANCE 24’s Gaza correspondent Maha Abu al Kass was injured in Israeli strikes on the besieged enclave. While Kass and other family members suffered minor injuries in the attack, she says the psychological impact of Israel’s bombardment is enormous.

8:52pm: Erdogan tells Saudi crown prince Turkey working to send aid to civilians

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday told Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that Turkey had started work to get humanitarian aid to civilians hit by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Turkish presidency said.

In a phone call, Erdogan also said it was unacceptable for civilian settlements to be bombed, adding “it is important for countries in the region to give constructive messages for the conflict to end,” the presidency said on messaging platform X.

8:15pm: Four Palestinians killed in Israeli settler attack in West Bank

At least four Palestinians were killed Wednesday as armed Israeli settlers attacked a town south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.

In a separate incident, a Palestinian man was killed by Israeli army fire near Bethlehem, the ministry said.

Israeli human rights group B’Tselem said on X, formerly Twitter, that “since Saturday, settlers have been attacking Palestinian residents in many parts of the West Bank”.

Amid war between Israel and Gaza militants that left thousands dead on both sides, “settlers are utilising the fact that public attention is focused elsewhere to… add fuel to the fire of violence”, the group said.

7:50pm: Israel army says rules out ‘aerial infiltration’ on Lebanon border

The Israeli army said an “error” was behind reports of a suspected “aerial infiltration” from Lebanon, ruling out any major incident near the border.

“There are no launches at this point from Lebanon. There are no alerts,” army spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised statement.

“This has been an error that we are looking into… We will check wether it’s a technical malfunction or a human error.”

7:10pm: Iraq’s top Shiite cleric calls on the world to stand up to ‘terrible brutality’ in Gaza

Iraq’s top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani calls on the world to stand up to the “terrible brutality” happening in Gaza and prevent Israeli plans to inflict more harm on the Palestinian people, according to a statement.

“Ending the tragedy of this honourable people, which has been ongoing for seven decades, by attaining them their legitimate right and ending the occupation from their usurped lands, is the only way to achieve peace and security in this region,” al-Sistani said in a statement.

“Without that, the resistance will continue against aggressors and the cycle of violence will continue to claim more innocent lives,” the statement added.

6:54pm: US monitoring reports of rocket fire from Lebanon

The US is watching developments on the Lebanon-Israel border closely and does not want to see the conflict widened or expanded, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Wednesday.

“We have seen rocket fire coming from southern Lebanon …into northern Israel. We obviously are watching this with great concern. We don’t want to see this conflict widened or expanded,” Kirby said in an interview with MSNBC.

He said he does not believe it is in Israel’s interest to have a second front to fight and defend.

6:50pm: Hamas, Islamic Jihad say firing heavy rocket barrage at Israel

The armed wings of Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad said Wednesday they were targeting southern and central Israel with rockets, as sirens sounded in areas surrounding the Gaza Strip.

Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said it was targeting the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv, Ashdod and Ashkelon as well as communities near the Gaza border with “heavy rocket fire”.

The Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said it had fired a rocket at Ben Gurion airport, where Israeli officials reported no hits.

6:32pm: Death toll of French nationals killed in Israel rises to 11

The death toll of French nationals killed in Israel has risen to 11, said French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.

“Unfortunately, as the Israeli authorities continue to identify the victims”, she said, the death toll is rising.

Earlier Wednesday, French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne put the death toll at 10 French nationals. Borne said 18 French nationals were missing, including “several children”.

Among those believed kidnapped is a 12-year-old boy named Eitan, who had been living in the Nir Oz kibbutz, according to family members who have spoken to French media.

6:22pm: Poland to cancel polling station in Israel, ministry says

Poland plans to cancel voting in Tel Aviv for the October 15 parliamentary elections due to ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas, said the Polish foreign ministry.

“For the safety of our citizens, taking into account the fact that the State of Israel is in a state of war and the consequences resulting from threats and restrictions on gatherings in force… it was necessary to recognise these risks and respond to them adequately,” it said in a statement.

Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau said earlier this week that 1,145 Polish citizens had registered to vote in Israel.

5:51pm: Sirens sound across northern Israel, IDF suspects ‘infiltration from Lebanon’

Sirens have sounded across northern Israel, urging citizens to shelter, as the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) said suspected hostile aircraft had entered the country from Lebanon.

The military did not specify the kind of aircraft. But Lebanon’s Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Palestinian militants are known to have drones and gliders.

The news came after Hezbollah fired anti-tank missiles at an Israeli military position earlier Wednesday, claiming to have killed and wounded troops. The Israeli military confirmed the attack but did not comment on possible casualties. The Israeli army shelled the area in southern Lebanon where the attack was launched.

Meanwhile Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said it shelled the northern Israeli city of Haifa with an R-160 rocket.

5:45pm: Death toll in Gaza rises to 1,100

The death toll in Gaza from Israeli air strikes has rised to 1,100, said the Palestinian health ministry, adding that 5,339 have been wounded.

5:40pm: UK’s Cleverly takes shelter as siren goes off during Israel visit

British foreign minister James Cleverly was seen taking shelter as a siren went off during his visit to Israel on Wednesday, in a video clip posted on social media platform X by the Israeli foreign ministry.

Cleverly, who is visiting Israel to show solidarity following attacks by Palestinian militant group Hamas, could be seen running into a building in Ofakim in southern Israel.

5:25pm: Egypt warned Israel three days before Hamas attack, US lawmaker says

Israel got a warning from Egypt of potential violence three days before Hamas caught Israeli forces off-guard with Saturday’s attack, said the chairman of the powerful US House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“We know that Egypt has warned the Israelis three days prior that an event like this could happen,” Republican Michael McCaul told reporters following a closed-door intelligence briefing for lawmakers on the crisis.

“I don’t want to get too much into classified (details), but a warning was given,” he said. “I think the question was at what level.”

McCaul said the attack may have been planned as long as a year ago.

“We’re not quite sure how we missed it. We’re not quite sure how Israel missed it,” he told reporters.

Cairo has not commented officially on suggestions that it may have offered an early warning.

5:17pm: Unity govt, war cabinet a sign Israel is anticipating ‘large-scale war’

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has announced the establishment of an emergency unity government and war cabinet. The latter includes Netanyahu, former Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz and Defence Minister Yoav Gallant.

Gadi Eisenkot, also a former army chief from Gantz’s party, and Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer will serve as observers.

Reporting from Jerusalem, FRANCE 24’s Irris Makler notes that the war cabinet members have considerable military experience. “It tell us two things: I think the aim is to have an experienced government that the people can get behind,” explains Makler. “The other thing is, you want that if you’re anticipating a large-scale war, you’re not anticipating something that will to go away after a week. And if there are problems, if there are setbacks, you have to have confidence in your government.”

4:50pm: Nine UN Palestinian refugee agency staffers killed in Gaza

Nine UN staffers working with the UN Palestinian refugee agency have been killed in air strikes on the Gaza Strip since Saturday, the United Nations wrote on X social media platform on Wednesday.

Established in 1949 following the first Arab-Israeli war, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) provides public services including schooling, primary healthcare and humanitarian aid in Gaza, the West Bank, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

4:32pm: British Airways diverts Tel Aviv flight due to security concerns

British Airways has diverted a flight from London to Tel Aviv back to Britain due to security concerns in Israel, said a spokesperson.

“Safety is always our highest priority and we’ve taken the decision to return our Tel Aviv flight to Heathrow,” said an airline spokesperson.

Flight-tracking website Flightradar showed the flight in question, BA165, had almost reached Tel Aviv.

On Monday, British Airways said it was monitoring the situation in Israel very closely but would continue to operate some flights.

4:10pm: Netanyahu, Gantz agree on unity government, war cabinet

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz have agreed to form an emergency unity government and war cabinet.

Gantz, a former Israeli defence minister, released a statement that said the five-member war cabinet will include Netanyahu, Gantz, current Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and two other top officials serving as “observer” members.

It said the government would not pass any legislation or decisions that are not connected to the war as long as the fighting continues.

4:02pm: Hamas, Islamic Jihad say firing heavy rocket barrage at Israel

The armed wings of Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad have said they were targeting southern and central Israel with rockets on Wednesday, as sirens sounded in areas surrounding the Gaza Strip.

Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad, said it was targeting the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv, Ashdod and Ashkelon as well as communities near the Gaza border with “heavy rocket fire”.

Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, said it had fired a rocket at Ben Gurion airport, where Israeli officials reported no hit.

3:55pm: Rocket from Gaza hits hospital in southern Israel

A rocket fired from the Gaza Strip struck a hospital in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, said a spokeswoman for the healthcare facility said.

“The child development centre at the Barzilai hospital in Ashkelon suffered a direct hit by a projectile from Gaza,” she said in a statement.

There were no reports of any casualties.

3:25pm: Ten French nationals killed, 18 missing, including children, in Israel

Ten French nationals were killed in Saturday’s attack in Israel and 18 are still missing, including several children who were “probably kidnapped” by Hamas, said French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne.

“My thoughts today are with the victims, and I would like to express France’s sympathy to their families and loved ones,” said Borne at the start of question time in the French Senate.

3:17pm: Three Canadians dead, three more reported missing in Israel

Three Canadians have died in Israel in the wake Saturday’s Hamas attack and Ottawa has reports that three more are missing, said Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly.

Joly told a press conference that more than 4,700 Canadian citizens and permanent resident in Israel, Gaza and the West Bank had registered with the government. She did not immediately say how many wanted to be evacuated.

3:03pm: Rocket sirens, light arms fire, infiltrator fears grip Israel’s Sderot

Reporting from the Israeli city of Sderot near the Gaza border, FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago says the sound of explosions from Israeli jets pounding Gaza “have been a constant refrain throughout the day”. Earlier Wednesday, Hamas rockets fired from Gaza were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system underscoring the security fears that continue to grip the city.

2:45pm: Austrian missing after attack found dead in Israel

One of three Austrian-Israeli dual citizens who Austria had said were missing after Saturday’s attack by Hamas on Israel has been found dead, said the Austrian foreign ministry.

“It is our sad duty to announce that one of the three missing Austrian-Israeli dual citizens has been found dead,” the ministry said in a short statement without naming the person, adding that their family had informed the ministry.

2:18pm: Israel strike kills four paramedics, says Palestinian Red Crescent

Four paramedics of the Palestinian Red Crescent were killed in Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, said the humanitarian organisation said.

Three of them died when a strike “directly targeted an ambulance” of the Red Crescent north of Gaza, and the fourth in a separate strike in the east of the enclave, the aid group said.

2:15pm: Gaza’s only power plant has run out of fuel

Gaza’s only power plant has run out of fuel, forcing it to shut down after Israel cut off supplies, said the Gaza Energy Ministry said Wednesday.

“The only power plant in the Gaza Strip stopped functioning at 2:00 pm (1100 GMT),” the authority’s head Jalal Ismail said in a statement, having earlier warned that it was running short of fuel.

With the power plant shut down, only generators can power the besieged enclave.

Following Saturday’s Hamas attack, Israel has cut off supplies of food, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza.

1:38pm: French-Israeli citizen pleas for the return of her abducted mother and daughter

A kibbutz resident whose 80-year-old mother and 12-year-old daughter were taken hostage in a Hamas raid made a plea for those holding her relatives to release them unharmed.

Speaking to FRANCE 24, Galit Dan-Jaoui pleaded with the women in Gaza: “Take care of my daughter. Help us. She needs help,” she said.

Dan-Jaoui also called on the French government to help rescue her family members, who are French-Israeli citizens.

12:27pm: France reports dozens of anti-Semitic acts since Hamas attack

French police have arrested more than 20 people over dozens of anti-Semitic acts carried out since Saturday, including harassment of Jewish children by fellow pupils at school, the government said on Wednesday.

France is home to some of Europe’s largest Muslim and Jewish populations and conflicts in the Middle East can lead to tensions here – which Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said the government aimed to avert with heightened police protection of Jewish sites, including schools and synagogues.

“It’s important that all French people of Jewish faith know they are protected,” Darmanin said as he and Education Minister Gabriel Attal visited a Jewish school near Paris.

Some 10,000 police are protecting 500 sites, Darmanin said.

Attal said pupils of Jewish faith had faced problems in their schools, including a pupil in the wider Paris region who had been attacked by fellow pupils who ripped his t-shirt. Any such incidents would be referred to judicial authorities, he said.

12:20pm: Jordan’s king says no stability in region without emergence of Palestinian state

Jordan‘s King Abdullah said on Wednesday no peace was possible in the Middle East without the emergence of an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The escalating violence showed the region would not “enjoy stability, security or peace” without the emergence of a Palestinian state with sovereignty on land that Israel had captured in the 1967 Arab-Israel war.

A two-state solution was the only option, the monarch told deputies in a speech at the opening of a new parliamentary session.

12:07pm: Israel not acting ‘like a state’ in Gaza, Turkey’s Erdogan says

Israel is not conducting itself “like a state” in the Gaza Strip, Turkey‘s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday, as Israel pounded the territory after Hamas’s attack.

“Israel should not forget that if it acts more like an organisation rather than a state, it’ll finish by being treated as such,” Erdogan said, attacking “shameful methods” of the Israeli army in densely populated Gaza.

“Bombing civilian sites, killing civilians, blocking humanitarian aid and trying to present these as achievements are the acts of an organisation and not a state,” he said.

Erdogan usually uses the word “organisation” when he refers to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is listed as a terror group by Turkey and its Western allies.

“We think that a war should have an ethic and that both parties should respect it. Unfortunately, this principle is gravely violated in Israel and in Gaza,” he said, denouncing the “murders of civilians on Israeli territory” and “the blind massacre of innocents in a Gaza subjected to constant bombardment”.

11:59am: Egyptian foreign minister discusses Gaza aid with UN

Egypt‘s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry hosted talks with the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees on Wednesday as spiralling violence in neighbouring Gaza displaced more than 263,000 people.

Shoukry’s talks with UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini focused on “how to provide protection for civilians and ensure regular access of services and relief aid to Gaza”, the foreign ministry said in a statement.

The UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, also attended the meeting.

Shoukry warned of the “dangerous humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip” and said Egypt “fully supports UN agencies” in ensuring the delivery of humanitarian aid.

The only entry point to Gaza not controlled by Israel is the Rafah crossing from Egypt, which Israeli aircraft bombed three times between Monday and Tuesday.

11:48am: 1,055 people have been killed and 5,184 wounded in Gaza since Hamas attack on Israel, health ministry says

A total of 1,055 people have been killed and 5,184 wounded in the Gaza Strip since Saturday, the heath ministry there said on Wednesday.

11:26am: EU’s von der Leyen says Hamas attack ‘act of war’

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday that the Palestinian militant group Hamas’s attack on Israel was a cold-blooded “act of war” and fully backed Israel’s right to defend itself.

Addressing the start of a meeting of European commissioners, von der Leyen also supported a full review of the EU’s multi-million-euro financial support for Palestinian projects.

10:54am: At least 169 soldiers killed following Hamas attack, Israeli army says

At least 169 Israeli soldiers have been killed in fighting with Palestinian Islamist group Hamas after its militants launched a cross-border attack on Saturday, the army said on Wednesday.

“As of this morning, we’ve informed the families of 169 fallen IDF (army) soldiers,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari told reporters, adding that the families of 60 people abducted and taken to Gaza have also been contacted.

10:36am: Hezbollah claims rocket fire from Lebanon onto Israel

Hezbollah said it was responsible for firing precision missiles on Israel on Wednesday, saying it was in response to Israeli attacks this week that left three of its fighters dead.

The Israeli military had said it had been targeted with anti-tank fire on Wednesday and had begun attacking Lebanon in return.

10:22am: Israeli defence minister to brief NATO counterparts

Israel‘s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant will hold video talks Thursday with his NATO counterparts following the surprise Hamas attack on his country, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said.

“Tomorrow, we will also be briefed by the Israeli Defence Minister Gallant on the situation in Israel,” Stoltenberg told journalists Wednesday at a two-day meeting of ministers in Brussels.

“Allies condemned the horrific terrorist attacks on innocent civilians in Israel over the weekend, and we are looking forward to the briefing from the defence minister.”

10:14am: Pope Francis calls for release of hostages in Gaza

Pope Francis called Wednesday for the immediate release of hostages taken by Hamas fighters during their attacks on Israel, and expressed his concern over the siege of Gaza.

“I ask that the hostages be released immediately,” he said at the Vatican, adding that “it is the right of those who are attacked to defend themselves, but I am very worried about the total siege in which the Palestinians live in Gaza, where there have also been many innocent victims”.

10:07am: Netherlands advises against travel to south of Lebanon

The Dutch government on Wednesday warned its citizens against all travel to the south of Lebanon due to the armed conflict with Israel.

The government said no one should travel to or in the region stretching south from the Litani river to the border of Israel.

Israel shelled south Lebanon Wednesday following rocket fire from the border area, Lebanese state media said, the latest exchange on Israel’s northern border following Hamas’s recent attacks on Israel.

9:44am: Israel police kill two Palestinians in east Jerusalem

Israeli border police shot dead two Palestinians in annexed east Jerusalem after they threw fireworks and rocks at fellow officers, the force said on Wednesday.

The deaths came late on Tuesday in the Silwan neighbourhood as officers were operating in the area, the border police said in a statement.

One officer was hit by fireworks, the force said.

“In response to the threat to their lives, the border police officers fired at the two assailants,” who were later confirmed dead, the statement said.

9:37am: Israel says an army post was attacked with anti-tank fire from Lebanon

The Israeli military said one of its northern positions was attacked with anti-tank fire from Lebanon on Wednesday, but did not immediately provide details on any casualties or who might have been responsible.

The attack took place near the Israeli town of Arab al-Aramshe, opposite the Lebanese village of Dhayra, the statement said.

Residents of southern Lebanon said Israeli artillery was shelling the area.

8:59am: Israel strikes Hamas-linked campus in Gaza, university official says

Israeli fighter jets struck the Islamic University in Gaza City on Wednesday, an AFP correspondent and an official with the Hamas-linked institution said.

“The intense air strikes destroyed completely some buildings of the Islamic University,” Ahmed Orabi of the university management told AFP.

“No one can enter it due to the fires, and the rocks and rubble scattered on the roads surrounding the university,” he said.

Thick clouds of dust billowed into the sky as the buildings collapsed, the AFP correspondent reported.

8:48am: Gaza’s sole power plant has 12 hours of fuel left at most, Palestinian energy authority says

The Gaza Strip‘s sole power plant and only current provider of electricity will run out of fuel in 10 to 12 hours, Palestinian Energy Authority chairman Thafer Melhem told Voice of Palestine radio on Wednesday.

Israel cut off its own electricity supply to Gaza on Monday as part of what it called a “total siege” in response to the mass infiltration by Palestinian gunmen on October 7.

7:58am: Thai death toll following Hamas attacks on Israel climbs to 20, foreign ministry says

Twenty Thai nationals have been killed following Hamas’s surprise attacks on Israel, the kingdom’s government said Wednesday, up from the previous toll of 18.

The foreign ministry said the number of Thais held hostage had increased by three to 14, based on unofficial reports from Thai citizens in Israel, adding that the number of wounded had increased to 13.

The first repatriation flight with wounded Thais was expected to land in the capital on Thursday.

More than 5,000 Thai citizens have requested repatriation to the kingdom, Kanchana said.

There are approximately 30,000 Thais in Israel, mostly working in the agriculture sector, according to Thailand‘s labour ministry.

7:45am: Israeli ground offensive: ‘It may not be a question of if, but when’

Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip are continuing following Hamas‘s multipronged surprise attack on Israel on October 7.

Under heavy pressure to act, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the Hamas attack to the Holocaust in a Sunday phone call with US President Joe Biden.

With growing talk of a ground offensive, “it may not be a question of if, but when”, FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago reports from Tel Aviv.

7:41am: Former Hamas chief calls for Friday protests across the Arab world in support of Palestinians

Former Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal called for protests across the Arab world on Friday in support of the Palestinians, in a recorded statement seen by Reuters.

“[We must] head to the squares and streets of the Arab and Islamic world on Friday, the Friday of Al Aqsa Flood,” Meshaal, who is currently the leader of Hamas’s diaspora office, said.

7:39am: At least 30 dead as Israel pounds Gaza overnight, Hamas official says

At least 30 people have been killed and hundreds wounded as Israel pounded the Gaza Strip with hundreds of air strikes overnight, a Hamas government official said Wednesday.

Dozens of residential buildings, factories, mosques and shops were hit, the head of the government’s media office, Salama Marouf, told AFP.

The Israeli military confirmed it had hit several Hamas targets during the night.

It said fighter jets destroyed “advanced detection systems” that Hamas used to spot military aircraft.

7:31am: Israeli troops have killed at least 1,000 gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza, says IDF

Israeli troops have killed at least 1,000 Palestinian gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza in incursions that began at the weekend, and have reinforced all communities in Israel as hostilities spread to other fronts, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Wednesday.

In quotes carried by Israel Hayom newspaper online, chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari also said that among Hamas targets destroyed in the IDF’s counteroffensive on Gaza was an advanced system for tracking aircraft.

6:45am: Fourteen Thai nationals in Israel taken hostage, foreign ministry says

Thailand said it received reports that three more of its nationals had been taken hostage amid the violence near and in Gaza, bringing the total abducted to 14, the foreign ministry said on Wednesday.

It said 20 of its citizens were killed and 13 injured in the violence.

6:17am: Israeli death toll rises to 1,200, IDF says

At least 1,200 Israelis have been killed in the attack by Hamas militants, an Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson said Wednesday, up from 1,000 previously reported.

“The death toll is a staggering 1,200 dead Israelis,” IDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said in a video message, adding that “the overwhelming majority of them” were civilians.

6:00am: More than 260,000 people displaced in Gaza, UN says

More than 260,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the Gaza Strip, as heavy Israeli bombardments from the air, land and sea continue to hit the Palestinian enclave, the United Nations said.

Fierce fighting has left hundreds dead on both sides since Hamas launched a surprise assault on Saturday, spurring Israel’s reprisal bombing campaign.

“Over 263,934 people in Gaza are believed to have fled their homes,” said UN humanitarian agency OCHA said in an update Tuesday, warning that “this number is expected to rise further”.

It said that around 3,000 people had been displaced “due to previous escalations”, prior to Saturday.

3:56am: US talking to Israel and Egypt about safe passage for Gaza civilians

The US is talking with Israel and Egypt about the idea of a safe passage for Gaza civilians as Israel strikes the enclave after the deadly Hamas attack over the weekend, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Tuesday.

“We are focused on this question, there are consultations going on,” Sullivan told reporters at the White House.

“But the details of that are something that are being discussed among the operational agencies and I don’t want to share too much of that publicly at this time,” Sullivan said.

Israel has battered Gaza with deadly air strikes after Palestinian Islamist group Hamas’s attack on Israel on Saturday that left hundreds dead.

3:42am: Blinken reaffirms US support for Israel

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Israeli Minister for Strategic Affairs Ron Dermer on Tuesday, two days before Blinken arrives in Israel for a visit, the State Department said.

Blinken “reaffirmed unequivocal US support for Israel’s right to defend itself” following attacks by the Palestinian militant group Hamas, the department said in a statement.

2:33am: EU warns Musk’s X spreading ‘illegal’ disinformation after Hamas attack

The EU’s digital chief Thierry Breton warned Elon Musk on Tuesday that his platform X, formerly Twitter, is spreading “illegal content and disinformation”, in a letter seen by AFP.

The letter said concerns had heightened after the Hamas attack against Israel, and demanded Musk respond to the complaint within 24 hours and contact “relevant law enforcement authorities”.

As the European Union’s commissioner for industry and the digital economy, Breton is charged with regulating internet giants that trade within the bloc, and can launch legal action.

“Following the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel, we have indications that your platform is being used to disseminate illegal content and disinformation in the EU,” Breton wrote.

Breton reminded Musk that EU law sets tough rules on moderating content, “especially when it comes to violent and terrorist content that appears to circulate on your platform”.

1:15am: Palestinian UN envoy accuses Israel of ‘genocidal’ campaign against Gaza

The Palestinian envoy to the United Nations on Tuesday described Israel’s bombardment of the Gaza Strip and vow to impose a complete siege on the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave as “nothing less than genocidal”.

Hamas militants carried out their deadliest attack in Israel’s history on Saturday, when gunmen rampaged through Israeli towns, killing more than 1,000 people and taking scores of hostages to Gaza. Israel has retaliated with air strikes on Gaza that have razed entire districts as it prepares for a possible ground offensive.

Israel’s Defence Minister Yoav Gallant drew international condemnation by announcing on Monday a “total blockade” to stop food and fuel reaching Gaza, home to 2.3 million people. Gallant said Israel was battling “beastly people”.

“Such blatant dehumanization and attempts to bomb a people into submission, to use starvation as a method of warfare, and to eradicate their national existence are nothing less than genocidal,” Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour wrote in a letter to the UN Security Council on Tuesday.

12:15am: New Yorkers rally for Israel

Thousands of people attended a pro-Israel rally on Manhattan’s East Side Tuesday evening.

The crowd packed into Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza at 47th Street and Second Avenue, located near the United Nations.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul, New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York Attorney General Letitia James attended the 5pm rally.

The gathering took place in the wake of the deadly attacks in Israel by the militant group Hamas.

New York City is home to the largest Jewish population outside of Israel, with some 2 million Jewish people living in the city and surrounding areas.

11:05pm, October 10: Israeli siege of Gaza breaks international law, says EU’s Borrell

European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell accused the Israeli government on Tuesday of breaking international law by imposing a total blockade of Gaza in response to the attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel.

After an emergency meeting to discuss the repercussions of the attack, Borrell also said an “overwhelming majority” of EU foreign ministers supported continuing aid payments for the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank.

Borrell made his statement the day after European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, a Hungarian diplomat, said all EU development aid for Palestinians was suspended – only for the Commission to disown his announcement after a backlash from EU governments.

10:42pm: Biden’s remarks ‘attempt to cover crimes’ of Israel, says Hamas

Palestinian militant group Hamas on Tuesday called US President Joe Biden’s comments “inflammatory” after he condemned the group’s unprecedented attack on Israel as “sheer evil”.

“These remarks are an attempt to cover up the crimes and terror of the Zionist government,” Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said in a statement on its website.

8:30pm: Biden says Hamas attack on Israel was ‘act of sheer evil’

US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday Palestinian Islamist group Hamas’s attack on Israel over the weekend was an “act of sheer evil”.

“This is an act of sheer evil,” Biden said in an address, adding at least 14 Americans were also killed in the attack that left hundreds dead.

Read yesterday’s liveblog to see how all the day’s events unfolded.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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