The latest updates from the Israel Hamas war.
Israel to step up strikes on Gaza in preparation for looming ground assault
Israel's military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said the country plans to step up its attacks on the Gaza Strip starting Saturday, as preparation for the next stage of its war on Hamas.
When asked about a possible ground invasion into the enclave, he told reporters Saturday night that the military was trying to create optimal conditions beforehand.
“We will deepen our attacks to minimize the dangers to our forces in the next stages of the war. We are going to increase the attacks, from today,” Hagari said.
He repeated his call for residents of Gaza City to head south for their safety.
The Palestinian Health Ministry in the occupied West Bank said at least four people were killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank early Sunday.
The ministry said two were killed in the Jenin refugee camp, which includes the Al-Ansar mosque where Israel’s military said it launched an airstrike. The two fatalities have yet to be identified. It also said Israeli forces shot and killed two men in northern cities of the West Bank: a 19-year-old in Tubas and a 26-year-old in Nablus.
According to the Health Ministry, Sunday’s fatalities brought the death toll in the West Bank to 89 Palestinians since the latest Israel-Hamas war broke out on October 7th.
Syrian state media says Israeli airstrikes hit Damascus and Aleppo airports
Syrian state media reported that Israeli airstrikes early Sunday targeted the international airports of the Syrian capital Damascus and the northern city of Aleppo, killing one person. The runways were damaged and put out of service.
This is the second attack this month on Damascus International Airport and the third on Aleppo’s airport as tensions increase in the Middle East over the Israel-Hamas war.
Syrian state media quoted an unnamed military official as saying the airports were struck by the Israeli military from the Mediterranean to the west and from Syria’s Israeli-occupied Golan Heights in the south. It said one employee was killed and another wounded in Damascus in addition to material damage.
The Israeli military had no immediate comment.
Aid deliveries from Egypt begin to arrive in Gaza
The border crossing between Egypt and Gaza opened Saturday to let a trickle of desperately needed aid into the besieged Palestinian territory for the first time since Israel sealed it off and began pounding it with airstrikes following Hamas' bloody rampage two weeks ago.
Just 20 trucks were allowed in, an amount aid workers said was insufficient to address the unprecedented humanitarian crisis. More than 200 trucks carrying 3,000 tons of aid have been waiting nearby for days.
Many aid agencies, including the World Health Organization, the World Food Program and others, said in a joint statement that more than 1.6 million people are in critical need of humanitarian aid.
“Vulnerable people are at greatest risk and children are dying at an alarming rate and being denied their right to protection, food, water and health care,” they said.
The agencies, which also include the UN Population Fund and UNICEF, called for a humanitarian cease-fire, along with immediate, unrestricted humanitarian access throughout Gaza.
“Gaza was a desperate humanitarian situation before the most recent hostilities. It is now catastrophic. The world must do more,” they said.
Gaza hospitals are overwhelmed says Doctors Without Borders NGO
The organisation says Gaza’s health care system is “facing collapse.”
The global medical group said Saturday that hospitals in Gaza are “overwhelmed and lacking resources” amid continued Israeli airstrikes and siege following Hamas’ unprecedented attack on Oct. 7.
The group’s warning comes after Medhat Abbas, an official with the Gaza health ministry, said early Saturday that five hospitals had stopped functioning and two others were partly out of service.
“We recently made a large donation of medical stock, including medicines, narcotics and medical equipment to Al Shifa hospital, the main surgical facility in the strip,” the group, known by its French acronym MSF, wrote on X platform.
A nurse with the aid group in Gaza, Loay Harb, said that when the supplies were delivered to the hospital, she and others “saw hundreds of people taking shelter and it was difficult to walk inside.”
Fighting intensifies along Israel’s border with Lebanon
Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters exchanged fire on Saturday in several areas along the Lebanon-Israel border as violence continues to escalate over the Israel-Hamas conflict.
Journalists in south Lebanon heard loud explosions along the border close to the Mediterranean coast.
The state-run National News Agency reported that Israeli shelling hit several villages, adding that a car was directly hit in the village of Houla.
An Israeli army spokesman said a group of gunmen fired a shell into Israel adding that an Israeli drone then targeted them. He added that another group of gunmen fired toward the Israeli town of Margaliot and a drone attacked them shortly afterwards.
“Direct hits were scored in both strikes,” Israeli army spokesman Avichay Adraee posted on X - formerly Twitter.
4,385 Palestinians killed since the start of the war - Hamas Health Ministry
At least 4,385 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas on 7 October, the territory's Health Ministry has announced.
According to the report, 1,756 children and 967 women are among these deaths. At least 13,561 people have been injured in Gaza, relentlessly bombarded in retaliation for the Hamas attack on Israeli soil.
‘We must act now to end the nightmare’ - UN boss
The head of the UN, Antonio Guterres, has called for an end to the conflict, saying "we must act now to put an end to the nightmare".
Guterres was speaking at the ongoing ‘Peace Summit’ in Cairo and also called for a "humanitarian ceasefire" on the 15th day of the war between Israel and Hamas in power in Gaza.
“The Gazans need much more, a massive delivery of aid is necessary” added the Secretary General of the United Nations.
Only 20 trucks crossed from Egypt to Gaza besieged and shelled by Israel on Saturday morning, a figure the UN says is totally insufficient.
The organisation has called for 100 trucks of aid per day to help the 2.4 million Gazans in the region.
Gaza aid convoy 'must not be last' - UN
“The first convoy must not be the last”, the head of the UN humanitarian aid agency Martin Griffiths has warned during a ‘Summit for Peace’ in Cairo, after the passage of 20 trucks from Egypt towards Gaza besieged and shelled by Israel.
“I am confident that this shipment will be the start of a sustainable effort to deliver essential goods – including food, water, medicine and fuel – to Gazans in a secure, unconditional and unhindered manner”, he added.
Egyptian media have reported that Saturday's shipments only contain food and medical aid and not fuel, vital in the Gaza Strip.
Griffith’s call comes after humanitarian aid trucks began crossing the Rafah terminal on the Egyptian side towards the Palestinian enclave of Gaza earlier on Saturday.
Egyptian state television showed several trucks passing through the huge gate of the border crossing on the 15th day of war between Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza, as tons of aid have been piling up for days in the waiting for a passage to the 2.4 million Gazans, half of them children, without water, electricity or fuel.
Hamas releases two US hostages
Hamas militants freed two Americans late on Friday - a mother and her teenage daughter, who had been held hostage in Gaza since militants rampaged through Israel two weeks ago, the Israeli government said.
The pair, who also hold Israeli citizenship, were the first hostages to be released. More than 200 are still being held.
The two Americans, Judith Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter Natalie, were out of the Gaza Strip and in the hands of the Israeli military, an army spokesman said. Hamas said it was releasing them in an agreement with the Qatari government for humanitarian reasons.
Judith and Natalie Ranaan had been on a trip to southern Israel from their home in suburban Chicago to celebrate a Jewish holiday, the family said. They had been staying at the kibbutz of Nahal Oz, near Gaza, when Hamas fighters took them and more than 200 others hostage.
Relatives of other captives welcomed the release and appealed for others to be freed.
“We call on world leaders and the international community to exert their full power in order to act for the release of all the hostages and missing,’’ their statement said.
17 UN refugee agency employees killed since the start of the war
At least 17 employees of the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) have been killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarin said on Saturday.
“So far, the deaths in this brutal war of 17 of our colleagues have been confirmed. Unfortunately, the true figure is likely to be higher,” Lazzarin wrote in a statement.
Some “were killed at home while sleeping with their families,” he added.
“In the Gaza Strip, incessant airstrikes and bombardments, coupled with evacuation orders by Israeli forces, have led to the displacement of a million people and caused the deaths of far too many civilians,” Lazzarini went on, calling for “an urgent humanitarian ceasefire”.
He also noted that the UNRWA’s facilities "are now overcrowded", with 500,000 people having taken refuge there.
Israel calls on its citizens to immediately leave Egypt and Jordan
Israel has called on its citizens in Egypt and Jordan to leave these two countries "as quickly as possible" due to a "worsening of demonstrations against Israel".
A similar alert, level 4, the highest, had already been issued for Turkey and the recommendations were raised to level 3 for Morocco, advising Israelis not to go there.
"Due to the continuation of the war, and a significant worsening in recent days of demonstrations against Israel… and demonstrations of hostility and violence against Israeli and Jewish symbols", the entire " Middle East and Arab countries" are not recommended for Israelis, warned the Israeli National Security Council in a statement.
Two Israeli tourists and their Egyptian guide were killed by a police officer in Alexandria on 8 October, the day after Hamas attacks on Israel.
Biden thinks Hamas attack linked to efforts on Israel-Saudi relations
President Joe Biden said he thinks Hamas’ initial attack on Israel was tied in part to efforts to normalise relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, an initiative that Biden was trying to bring to fruition.
“They knew that I was about to sit down with the Saudis,” the U.S. president said late on Friday, speaking at a fundraiser.