The latest developments from the Israel Hamas war.
Israel says army has 'completed' the encirclement of Gaza City
The Israeli army announced Thursday evening that it had "completed the encirclement of Gaza City", a week after the start of its ground operation in the Palestinian territory.
"Our soldiers have completed the encirclement of Gaza City, the centre of the Hamas terrorist organisation," Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari told a news briefing.
"The concept of a ceasefire is not on the table", added the military official, on the 27th day of the war between Israel and the Islamist movement, in power in the Gaza Strip, triggered by an unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israeli soil.
Refugee camp hit by Israeli strike, says Gaza official
An Israeli strike hit a residential building in the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza on Thursday, killing at least 15 people, Gaza’s Civil Defense spokesperson said.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Mahmoud Bassal said it has been difficult for civil defence vehicles and first responders to arrive to clear the wreckage.
Residents said dozens of people were trapped under the rubble. The strike created a large crater and severely damaged the buildings around it. A survivor speaking to the television network compared it to an earthquake.
Bassal said Gaza Civil Defense paramedics and first responders are struggling because of crippled infrastructure and fuel shortages.
He added they have relied on donations of fuel by individual Palestinians from their personal supplies to run ambulances and other vehicles.
Israel has banned the transport of fuel into Gaza.
More than 9,000 Palestinians dead - Gaza Health Ministry
Gaza's Ministry of Health said on Thursday that more than 9,000 Palestinians have been killed since war broke out more than three weeks ago.
Dr. Ashraf al-Qidra, a ministry spokesperson, said 9,061 people have been killed in Gaza, including 3,760 under 18.
The figure is without precedent in decades of Israeli-Palestinian violence and is around four times the toll from the 2014 Gaza war, which lasted over six weeks.
More than 1,400 people have been killed on the Israeli side, the vast majority of civilians killed by Hamas in its bloody 7 October incursion into Israel, also an unprecedented number.
Seventeen Israeli soldiers have been killed in Gaza since the start of ground operations.
The Health Ministry is part of the Hamas-run government but includes doctors and veteran civil servants who are not affiliated with the group.
Its tolls from previous wars have held up to UN scrutiny, independent investigations and even Israel’s tallies.
Al-Qidra warned of an “imminent health catastrophe” after the main generator in a hospital in northern Gaza failed and other hospitals face shortages of fuel and medicine.
He said the generator at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the territory's largest hospital, appears likely to fail soon.
“We appeal to all parties to provide safe passage for the urgent flow of medical aid into Gaza,” he said.
UN criticised for failing to stop 'genocide' in Gaza
A senior UN official strongly criticised the UN in a retirement letter for not stopping what he called “a genocide unfolding before our eyes” in Gaza.
Craig Mokhiber, a US human rights lawyer, claimed “the current wholesale slaughter of the Palestinian people” is rooted in decades of persecution by Israel “based entirely upon their status as Arabs and coupled with explicit statements of intent by leaders in the Israeli government and military.”
Mokhiber left his job heading the New York office of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on 31 October.
His four-page letter to UN human rights chief Volker Türk makes no mention of Hamas' surprise attack on Israel on 7 October, which killed 1,400 people.
Mokhiber had informed the UN in March he was going to retire.
In the letter, Mokhiber accused the US, UK and much of Europe of being “wholly complicit in the horrific assault” on Gaza by Israeli forces.
Mokhiber, who joined the UN in 1992 and said he has investigated Palestinian human rights since the 1990s, also wrote that a two-state solution for the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an impossibility.
He called for the dismantling of Israel and the establishment of “a single, democratic, secular state in all of historic Palestine, with equal rights for Christians, Muslims, and Jews.”
Biden calls for humanitarian 'pause'
The US president has said there should be a humanitarian “pause” in the Israel-Hamas war after a campaign speech Wednesday evening was interrupted by a protester calling for a ceasefire.
“I think we need a pause,” Joe Biden said.
The call was a subtle departure for Biden and top White House aides, who throughout the current crisis have insisted they will not dictate how the Israelis carry out their military operations.
However, the Democrat leader is facing intensifying pressure from human rights groups, fellow world leaders and even liberal members of his own Democratic Party, who say that Israel's assault is a collective punishment for Hamas' actions and that it is time for a ceasefire.
In his comments, Biden was exerting pressure on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give Palestinians at least a brief reprieve from the relentless military operation that’s left thousands dead and mired the 141-square-mile strip in a devastating humanitarian crisis.
Aid to Israel under debate in US Congress
Will the United States limit itself to financial support for Israel? Or will they adopt the staggering package wanted by President Biden with funds for Gaza, Ukraine and partners in Asia?
The US Congress begins on Thursday to discuss this thorny issue.
Congress, finally functional with its new "speaker", is split in two on the type of support to provide to its allies abroad.
Democrats and Republicans alike want to immediately adopt military aid for Israel, a long-time partner of the United States, as it battles Hamas.
However, things get complicated when it comes to Ukraine.
Calls are growing within the right-wing camp to cut assistance to Kyiv, which runs in the billions.
Aware of this growing weariness among some in the political class, Biden decided to combine his request for aid for Ukraine - more than 61 billion dollars (57.5 billion euros) - with that for Israel, around 14 billion (13 billion euros).
The 80-year-old leader also estimates that he would need a little more than 9 billion dollars (8.5 billion euros) to respond to international humanitarian crises, including in the Gaza Strip.
That's a total of nearly 106 billion (100 billion euros).
The Republican leadership in the House wants to stand up to the US president, and plans to organise a vote on Thursday on an envelope intended only for Israel.
“We cannot allow the brutality currently occurring against Israel to continue,” said new speaker Mike Johnson.
White phosphorus used in Gaza and Lebanon: Amnesty
Amnesty International says it has verified the use of white phosphorous in both Gaza and Lebanon.
Senior crisis advisor Donatella Rovera told Sky News on Thursday that Amnesty International had video footage of white phosphorus being used over Gaza and Lebanon, as well as testimony from doctors in southern Lebanon.
Rovera slammed as "scandalous" the "inaction of the international community in the face of a catastrophe, of a humanitarian crisis, of these dimensions."
"International law is most definitely not being abided by any of the parties in this conflict," she added, calling for independent investigations into all violations.
The use of white phosphorus is illegal under international law when it is fired into populated areas.
The white-hot chemical substance can set buildings on fire and burn human flesh down to the bone. Survivors are at risk of infections and organ or respiratory failure, even if their burns are small.
Several states evacuate their citizens from Gaza
Multiple countries have announced the evacuation of the first group of their citizens from Gaza into Egypt through the Rafah crossing.
Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said 20 Australians, along with three people who were either permanent residents or immediate family members of a citizen, had been evacuated Wednesday through the crossing.
But Australian Assistant Foreign Minister Tim Watts said 65 citizens, residents and close relatives have yet to be evacuated.
“We are continuing to push for them to be able to make that passage across the Rafah crossing as soon as possible,” Watts said.
Bulgaria’s government also announced that 36 Bulgarian citizens and their family members had successfully left Gaza.
Bulgarian Minister of Foreign Affairs Mariya Gabriel said the evacuation through the Rafah crossing was implemented “in a complex and extremely dynamic situation” and all Bulgarian nationals in the first possible group allowed to leave the Gaza Strip “were in good condition.”
Earlier Wednesday, France, the UK and US announced the first of their citizens were able to evacuate Gaza through the Rafah crossing.