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Israel battles Hamas in Gaza, and reduces refugee camp apartment buildings to rubble

A Palestinian child wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip is treated in al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023.
A Palestinian child wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip is treated in al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah on Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023. Copyright AP Photo
Copyright AP Photo
By Euronews with AFP/AP
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All the latest developments from the Israel Hamas war.

Israeli airstrikes leave Gaza apartment buildings reduced to rubble

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A flurry of Israeli airstrikes Tuesday on a refugee camp near Gaza City levelled apartment buildings, leaving craters where they once stood, as ground troops battled Hamas militants across northern Gaza and attacked underground compounds.

Buoyed by the first successful rescue of a captive held by Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls for a cease-fire and again vowed to crush Hamas’ ability to govern Gaza or threaten Israel following its bloody 7 October rampage, which ignited the war.

Several hundred thousand Palestinians remain in the northern part of Gaza, where Israeli troops and tanks reportedly have advanced on several sides of Gaza City, the sprawling urban center.

In the Jabaliya refugee camp on Gaza City's outskirts, at least six airstrikes destroyed a number of apartment blocks in a residential area, the Hamas-run Interior Ministry said. It reported a large number of casualties but did not immediately provide details.

Footage of the scene from Al-Jazeera TV showed at least four large craters where buildings once stood, amid a large swath of rubble surrounded by partially collapsed structures. Dozens of rescue workers and bystanders dug through the wreckage, searching for survivors beneath the pancaked buildings. A group of young men pulled two children from the upper floors of a damaged apartment block, cradling them as they climbed down.

More than half the territory's 2.3 million Palestinians have fled their homes, with hundreds of thousands sheltering in packed UN-run schools-turned-shelters or in hospitals alongside thousands of wounded patients. Israeli strikes have hit closer to several northern hospitals in recent days, alarming medics.

Hamas will release "certain number" of hostages in "next few days"

As the families of hostages in Gaza campaign for the freedom of their loved ones, Hamas has claimed it will release a number of them in the coming days. 

"Some countries have asked, through intermediaries, to release some foreigners held in Gaza," Abu Obeida, a Hamas spokesman said on Tuesday. "We have received the requests of these countries. We have informed intermediaries that we will release a certain number of foreigners in the next few days, in line with our position which we had previously announced that we don't want or need to keep them or continue to detain them in Gaza."

To date, Hamas has released five hostages but more than 200 people are still being held captive after being snatched in southern Israel during the militants' deadly rampage on 7 October. 

The families of those still in captivity have questions, such as why progress has been so slow, why some and not others are being released and whether Israel's punishing bombardment of the Gaza Strip puts their loved ones in danger. 

Hamas has said it would let the others go in return for thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, which has dismissed the offer.

Israel battles Hamas around Gaza City

Israeli troops battled Hamas militants and attacked underground sites on Tuesday, focusing on northern Gaza, where an estimated 800,000 Palestinians have fled.

Following the first successful rescue of a Hamas prisoner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for a ceasefire and vowed again to destroy Hamas's ability to rule Gaza or threaten Israel.

More than half of the territory's 2.3 million Palestinians have fled their homes, with hundreds of thousands sheltering in overcrowded UN-run schools or hospitals alongside thousands of wounded.

Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said ground operations in Gaza were focused on the north, including Gaza City, which he described as "Hamas's centre of gravity".

"But we continue to strike in other parts of Gaza. We are going after their commanders, we are attacking their infrastructure, and whenever there is an important target associated with Hamas, we hit it," he said.

The military said it had hit some 300 militant targets over the past day.

Israeli strikes in recent days have come close to several hospitals in the north, alarming doctors.

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Palestinians inspect the house of Hassan Qatnani, which was destroyed by Israeli forces overnight.
Palestinians inspect the house of Hassan Qatnani, which was destroyed by Israeli forces overnight.Majdi Mohammed/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Putin blames West after anti-Israeli mob storm airport

Russia's president has accused Western states of firing up unrest following an anti-Israeli riot which broke out at an airport in the Russian republic of Dagestan.

On Sunday, a large crowd of men in the predominantly Muslim Caucasian region stormed Makhachkala airport, chanting antisemitic slogans and looking for Israelis. 

The United States condemned the events, which a State Department spokesperson said "looked like a pogrom".

Vladimir Putin did not provide any evidence for this claim, which echoes remarks by Moscow that Kyiv played a "key role" in the incident. 

Ukraine has denied any involvement in the violence.

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Putin accused the West and Ukraine of stirring up trouble over social media, claiming that Washington's goal is to sow chaos around the world so it can remain a dominant power and prevent rivals like Russia from rising up.

The Russian president also claimed dark US forces were attempting to destabilise and split Russia's multi-ethnic society.

Unrest in Dagestan, where Russia previously defeated an Islamist insurgency, is a worry for Putin. Amid the Ukraine war, he is keen to ensure peace at home ahead of elections next year.

People in the crowd walk shouting antisemitic slogans at an airfield of the airport in Makhachkala, Russia, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023.
People in the crowd walk shouting antisemitic slogans at an airfield of the airport in Makhachkala, Russia, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023.AP/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Israel strikes Hezbollah in Lebanon

The Israeli army said on Tuesday it had carried out airstrikes in Lebanon targeting Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas.

“Combat aircraft recently attacked infrastructure of the terrorist organisation Hezbollah on the territory of Lebanon,” the army wrote on X. 

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“Among the infrastructure attacked, weapons, positions and sites used by the organisation were destroyed,” it added.

Tensions are soaring on the Israel-Lebanon border, fuelling fears the current fighting could spill over into the region.  

Hezbollah, backed by Iran, has engaged fire with Israeli forces repetitively since Hamas stormed into Israel and murdered hundreds of civilians on October 7th. 

The Shiite group announced on Monday that one of its fighters had been killed, bringing the total to 47.

Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati told the AFP news agency on Monday his country was doing everything possible to avoid being drawn into the conflict.

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Shells from Israeli artillery explode over Dahaira, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023.
Shells from Israeli artillery explode over Dahaira, a Lebanese border village with Israel, south Lebanon, Monday, Oct. 16, 2023.Hussein Malla/Copyright 2023 The AP. All right reserved

Current aid system for Gaza 'doomed', UN warns

How assistance is provided to the Gaza Strip via the Rafah border crossing is "doomed to failure", the UN organisation for Palestinian refugees said on Monday. 

UNRWA also denounced the “collective punishment” imposed on the besieged enclave by Israel in retaliation to Hamas's deadly 7 October assault, which killed 1,400 people.

“Let's be clear: the handful of convoys authorised via Rafah are nothing compared to the needs of more than 2 million people trapped in Gaza,” said Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini. 

He called for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire", saying it was a matter of "life or death for millions of people".

“The system in place to allow aid into Gaza is doomed to failure unless there is political will for the flow of aid to be significant, commensurate with the unprecedented humanitarian needs,” Lazzarini continued. 

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Around 30 trucks carrying water, food and medicine entered Gaza through the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border on Sunday, the largest amount of aid since 21 October. 

Before October 7th, around 500 trucks entered the Gaza Strip every day, which even then was considered insufficient by many observers. 

Lazzarini called Hamas' attack on southern Israel earlier this month “horrible” and “shocking”.

"The current siege imposed on Gaza is collective punishment," he added. "The people of Gaza feel they are not treated like other civilians. Most of them feel trapped in a war with which they have nothing to do with.

“An entire population is dehumanised.”

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Gaza children face amputations without anaesthesia

Doctors in Gaza are being forced to operate on the ground and perform cesarean sections on women and amputations on children without anaesthesia due to a lack of medicine, Doctors of the World (MDM) said on Monday.

The NGO also warned there would be an "exponential" increase in infant deaths amid Israel's unrelenting strikes. 

Gaza's Ministry of Health says 8,306 people have been killed, including 3,457 children, since the start of the war. 

Speaking on RTL radio, Jean-François Corty, vice-president of MDM, worried the situation in the besieged enclave was "critical" in a "long-term perspective".

Since October 9, Israel has subjected Gaza to a “complete siege”, depriving its 2.4 million inhabitants of water, food and electricity while limiting international aid to a trickle. 

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While denouncing Hamas' "unspeakable atrocities", MDM's Corty said, "We must also condemn the fact that Israel is bombing thirsty and starving people who have no prospect of leaving.

“We are going from an open-air prison to an open-air mass grave. There are thousands of civilian deaths... who have nothing to do with terrorists who are dying under the bombs,” he said.

Wounded Palestinian children receive treatment at the al-Shifa hospital, following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023.
Wounded Palestinian children receive treatment at the al-Shifa hospital, following Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, Thursday, Oct. 26, 2023.Abed Khaled/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Not the time for a ceasefire, says White House

A White House spokesperson said Monday that a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas was "not the right answer at this time", claiming the Palestinian Islamist group "would be the only one to benefit from it."

The US however is in favour of "temporary and localised humanitarian pauses to allow aid to reach certain specific populations and perhaps even to help with the evacuation of people who want to leave" Gaza, said John Kirby, spokesperson for the National Security Council.

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