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Israel Hamas war: UN warns Gaza ground offensive will cause even 'more pain' as death toll climbs

People use horse drawn carriage instead of cars as Israel blocks the entrance of fuel in Khan Yunis, Gaza on Saturday
People use horse drawn carriage instead of cars as Israel blocks the entrance of fuel in Khan Yunis, Gaza on Saturday Copyright Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu via Getty Images
Copyright Mustafa Hassona/Anadolu via Getty Images
By Saskia O'Donoghue with AP & AFP
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All the latest developments from the Israel Hamas war.

Israeli army warns that Gaza City region is now 'a battlefield'


The Israeli army warned on Saturday that it now considers Gaza City and its region a "battlefield" and once again ordered residents to "leave immediately" towards the south.

“The Gaza governorate has become a battlefield. The places of shelter and the entire governorate are not safe".

Leaflets that the Israeli army claims to have dropped in the Palestinian territory read: “You must leave immediately towards the areas south of Wadi Gaza”, referring to the river which crosses the territory from east to west.

UN chief 'surprised' by Israel's 'unprecedented' bombardment of Gaza

UN Secretary-General António Guterres says he was surprised by Israel’s massive overnight airstrikes on Gaza amid a communication blackout across the besieged strip.

Writing Saturday on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, Guterres said he previously had felt encouraged by an apparent growing consensus on the need for a humanitarian cease-fire.

“Regrettably, instead I was surprised by an unprecedented escalation of bombardments, undermining humanitarian objectives. This situation must be reversed,” he said.

Guterres called President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt on Saturday, and the two discussed ongoing diplomatic efforts to deescalate the war between Israel and Hamas, the Egyptian presidency said in a statement.

EU diplomacy chief calls for ‘pause in hostilities’

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, has called for a "pause in hostilities" to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, hit by intense Israeli bombardments.

“Gaza is completely without power and completely isolated as intense bombardment continues,” Borrell said on social media. “Far too many civilians, including children, have been killed. This is contrary to international humanitarian law,” he wrote, adding: “A pause in hostilities is urgently required to allow humanitarian access.”

Erdogan: the West is the “main culprit” of the massacres in Gaza

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused the West of being "the main culprit of the massacres in Gaza".

“The main culprits of the massacres in Gaza are the Westerners. With the exception of a few consciences who raised their voices, (these) massacres are totally the work of the West,” the head of state said.

He made the remarks during of a “meeting in support of Palestine” which brought together several hundred thousand people at the former Atatürk airport in Istanbul.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the ''Great Palestine Meeting'' at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on Saturday
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan attends the ''Great Palestine Meeting'' at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul on SaturdaySerhat Cagdas/Anadolu via Getty Images

In a virulent speech against them, the Turkish head of state challenged Western powers of "creating an atmosphere of crusade" against Muslims.

“Everyone knows that Israel cannot take a step without them,” he said, criticising Western powers for failing to call for a ceasefire.

“You mourned the children killed in Ukraine, why this silence in the face of the children killed in Gaza?” he said.


Saying that a “million and a half people” attended the meeting, he accused Israel of “war crimes”.

“Israel, we declare you before the whole world a war criminal,” he said: “Israel, you are the occupiers, the invaders.”

“Of course every country has the right to defend itself, but where is the justice? What is happening in Gaza is not self-defence but a massacre,” continued the Turkish president.

President Erdogan did also add that it was important for Israelis not to "minimise the Turks' feelings of pity": "Listen to our calls for dialogue, take a step in the right direction for you and your children. We believe that there will be no losers in a just peace,” he added.


Israeli Defence Minister: the war with Hamas 'has entered a new phase'

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant has announced that the war against the Palestinian movement Hamas had "entered a new phase" after a night of intense bombings and an incursion by the Israeli army into the Gaza Strip.

“We have entered a new phase in the war. Yesterday, the earth in Gaza shook,” Mr. Gallant said in a video published by the ministry.

Israel’s latest military action takes pain in Gaza to ‘new level’ - UN human rights chief

The UN human rights chief has said Israel’s overnight intense air and ground bombardment has taken the crisis in Gaza to “a new level of violence and pain.”

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk’s comments came as Gaza remains cut off from the outside world following a communication blackout.


He said the blackout has added to the misery and suffering of civilians in the Palestinian territory, with ambulances and civil defence teams no longer able to locate the wounded.

"The humanitarian and human rights consequences will be devastating and long-lasting,” Turk said. 

“Given the manner in which military operations have been conducted until now, in the context of the 56-year-old occupation, I am raising alarm about the possibly catastrophic consequences of large-scale ground operations in Gaza and the potential for thousands more civilians to die," he added.

Elon Musk guarantees Starlink connection of ‘recognized’ organisations

Billionaire Elon Musk has assured that his Starlink satellite internet access service would support the connectivity of "internationally recognized aid organisations" in Gaza, cut off from the world since Friday due to the shutdown of telecommunications and Internet.


“Starlink will support the connectivity of internationally recognized aid organisations in Gaza,” wrote Elon Musk on the social network X (formerly Twitter), which he also owns.

He responded to a message from a Democratic representative in the American House of Representatives, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who on Saturday deemed the shutdown of telecommunications in the Palestinian territory “unacceptable”.

Palestinian killed by Israeli settler in West Bank - Palestinian ministry

A Palestinian was killed Saturday by an Israeli settler in the Nablus area of ​​the northern occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry said.

Bilal Abou Salah, 40, is reported to have been "killed by a gunshot to the chest by a settler" in the village of Sawiya near Nablus, the ministry said in a statement.


The mayor of Sawiya, Mahmoud Hassan, told AFP that Bilal Abou Salah was killed while picking olives with other members of his family on their land located not far from the village’s security fence.

"They were attacked by four settlers and one of them, armed with an M16 rifle, opened fire on them without warning. Abu Salah was hit in the chest and he was martyred in front of his family and his children,” the ministry added.

The Israeli army has not yet made any comment.

Hamas Ministry of Health announces death toll of 7,703 in Gaza

The Hamas Health Ministry announced on Saturday that 7,703 people had been killed in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war with Israel.


According to the ministry, more than 3,500 children are among the deaths recorded since the start of the war on October 7. The latest report communicated on Friday showed 7,326 deaths.    

Israel set to expand its ground operation in Gaza even further

Israel has announced it is expanding its ground operation in Gaza with infantry and armored vehicles backed by “massive” strikes from the air and sea, including the bombing of Hamas tunnels - a key target in its campaign to crush the territory’s ruling group after its bloody incursion in southern Israel three weeks ago.

The Israeli military released grainy images of tank columns moving slowly in open areas of Gaza and said warplanes bombed dozens of Hamas tunnels and underground bunkers.

“The forces are still on the ground and are continuing the war,” the army spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said on Saturday, indicating that the next stage has begun in what is expected to evolve into an all-out ground offensive in northern Gaza.


Days ago, Israel had already amassed hundreds of thousands of troops along the border. Until now, troops have conducted brief nightly ground incursions before returning to Israel.

Hagari said the ground forces were backed by what he described as massive strikes from the air and sea. He said two more key Hamas military commanders were killed overnight, arguing that Israel was facing a “weakened” enemy. There was no immediate confirmation of that claim from Hamas.

Hundreds of buildings ‘completely destroyed’ in Gaza in latest Israeli raids

Hundreds of buildings were "completely destroyed" in the Gaza Strip in Israeli bombardments overnight, the Gaza Civil Defence service has announced.

"Hundreds of buildings and houses have been completely destroyed and thousands of other homes have been damaged," Gaza Civil Defense spokesman Mahmoud Bassal told AFP, adding that the intense bombardments of the night had “changed the landscape” of the northern Gaza Strip.


Communications still cut off in the Gaza Strip

Phone and internet service in the Gaza Strip was cut off by Israeli bombardment late on Friday evening and the issue is continuing into Saturday, with hundreds of thousands of people uncontactable. Services were cut Friday evening, following a heavy round of Israeli airstrikes that lit up the night sky over the darkened territory.

Rights groups and journalists say they have lost contact with colleagues in the enclave and

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the head of the World Health Organisation, says the agency is still unable to reach its staff and health facilities in the region.

“I’m worried about their safety,” he wrote on X - formerly Twitter.


“Evacuation of patients is not possible under such circumstances, nor to find safe shelter. The blackout is also making it impossible for ambulances to reach the injured,” he added.

Bombings in Gaza: families of hostages demand explanations

The families of mostly Israeli hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip have expressed their "concern" and demanded explanations from the government after intense military operations in the Palestinian territory.

"Families are worried about the fate of their loved ones and are waiting for explanations. Every minute seems like an eternity. We demand that Defence Minister Yoav Gallant and members of the war cabinet meet with us this morning," at the end of "a night of immense anguish", according to a press release from the association bringing together the families of more than 220 hostages kidnapped by Hamas on 7 October.

The Forum expresses its "enormous anger that none of the members of the war cabinet took the trouble to meet the families of the hostages to explain one thing to them: does the ground operation endanger the 229 hostages" identified by the authorities.


Authorities have identified 229 hostages, according to the latest figures released on Friday by the Israeli army.

An American woman and her daughter as well as two Israeli octogenarians were released by Hamas after Egyptian-Qatari mediation.

Erdogan asks Israel to ‘stop this madness’ and ‘end the attacks’

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday asked Israel to "immediately stop this madness" and “put an end to its attacks" in a message posted on X (formerly Twitter).

"Israeli bombings that intensified last night on Gaza once again targeted women, children and innocent civilians and deepened the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Israel must immediately stop this madness and end its attacks," he added.


Israeli army targets Hamas underground network

The Israeli army announced on Saturday that it had targeted the Hamas tunnel network by striking "150 underground targets" in the north of the Gaza Strip, during a night of intense bombardment.

Israel is convinced that the Palestinian Islamist movement directs and organises its operations from this gigantic network of underground tunnels and stores its arsenal there.

"Overnight, IDF warplanes struck 150 underground targets in the northern Gaza Strip, including tunnels used by terrorists, underground combat sites and other underground infrastructure. Several Hamas terrorists were killed," the statement claimed.

The Israeli army also claims to have killed a Hamas official who was in charge of "paramotors, drones, detection equipment and air defence".


"Asem Abu Rakaba took part in organising the massacre in the communities bordering the Gaza Strip on October 7… he led the terrorists who infiltrated Israel with paramotors and was responsible for the attacks of drones on IDF surveillance posts,” the statement said.

"We are bombing the Gaza Strip with unprecedented intensity. From the air, on the ground and underground - the IDF will eliminate any terrorists, whether major or secondary, and (destroy) the entire Hamas terrorist infrastructure," it added.

Global protests calling for an end to the war ramp up

Thousands of protesters across the globe have been demanding an end to the ongoing conflict.

In New York City, hundreds of protesters in black T-shirts filled the city’s iconic Grand Central Terminal during the evening rush hour on Friday to demand a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war.


Many of the protesters were detained by police and taken out of the station, their hands zip tied behind their backs. The NYPD could not immediately say how many were taken into custody.

Inside the main concourse, protesters wore shirts that read “cease-fire now” and “not in our name” chanted, with some holding banners in front of the list of departure times.

Cuffed protesters arrested during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire amid war between Israel and Hamas at Grand Central Station in New York
Cuffed protesters arrested during a demonstration calling for a ceasefire amid war between Israel and Hamas at Grand Central Station in New YorkKENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

In Indonesia, more than 3,000 protesters marched to the heavily guarded US Embassy in Jakarta on Saturday to demand an end to the war and bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

Waving Indonesian and Palestinian flags, the protesters, many wearing white Islamic robes, filled a major thoroughfare in downtown Jakarta running outside the embassy. About 1,000 police were deployed around the compound, which is blocked off by concrete road barriers.


The protesters, organised by the Indonesian Ulema Council, known as MUI, chanted “God is Great” and “Freedom for Palestine” during the noisy but peaceful protest. Banners and placards proclaimed, “We stand with Gaza,” and slammed the Israeli government while denouncing the staunch US support of Israel.

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