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'War crimes' in Gaza and Israel, Palestinian death toll climbs, Blinken opposes Israeli reoccupation

A youth stands before a hole in what used to be a wall in a building that was hit during Israeli bombardment n the southern Gaza Strip on November 8, 2023.
A youth stands before a hole in what used to be a wall in a building that was hit during Israeli bombardment n the southern Gaza Strip on November 8, 2023. Copyright MAHMUD HAMS/AFP or licensors
Copyright MAHMUD HAMS/AFP or licensors
By Euronews with AFP
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The latest developments from the Israel Hamas war.

UN expert denounces 'war crimes' in Gaza and Israel

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Israel's widespread bombing of homes and civilian sites in Gaza and the indiscriminate firing of rockets by Hamas are "war crimes", an independent United Nations expert said on Wednesday.

Israeli strikes have destroyed or damaged 45% of homes in the Palestinian territory, detailed Balakrishnan Rajagopal in a press release, saying this destruction had an "enormous cost in human lives".

The UN Special Rapporteur stressed that the targeting of residential areas is strictly prohibited under international law.

“Carrying out hostilities knowing that they will systematically destroy and damage civilian homes and infrastructure, thereby rendering an entire city – such as Gaza City – uninhabitable for civilians, is a war crime,” he said.

When such acts are "directed against a civilian population, they also constitute crimes against humanity", Rajagopal added. 

The expert stressed Israeli homes were not legitimate military targets either, warning Hamas' continued rocket fire also constituted "a war crime."

Israel began relentlessly bombing Gaza following Hamas' unprecedented 7 October attack that killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians.

It has hit schools, churches, mosques, refugee camps, hospitals, homes, electricity and water facilities and ambulances, killing more than ten thousand people, mostly women and children. 

"The world continues to watch helplessly as basic standards of international human and humanitarian law are openly violated" in Gaza, said Rajagopal. 

**Palestinian death toll climbs **

Gaza's health ministry announced on Wednesday that 10,569 people had been killed in Israeli bombardments since the war began on 7 October.

The number of dead includes 4,324 children and 2,823 women, the ministry added. 

Blinken says Israel must not 'reoccupy' Gaza

The US Secretary of State urged Israel on Wednesday to not "re-occupy" the Gaza Strip after the current conflict with Hamas, following a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Japan. 

Israel's key ally, the United States has already said it opposes a possible reoccupation of Palestinian territory after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Monday his country would take "responsibility for security" in Gaza.

To achieve "lasting peace and security" in the region, Antony Blinken said Washington believes it is necessary to prevent "the forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza", while stopping the territory from "being used as a platform for terrorism". 

"Reoccupying" Gaza at the end of hostilities must be avoided, he added, stressing that "a blockade or siege of Gaza" and any "reduction" of its territory should not happen. 

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The top US diplomat said the "voices and aspirations" of the Palestinian people must be placed at the heart of governance in Gaza when the fighting stops, and the Strip "unified" with the West Bank. 

It is necessary for Israelis and Palestinians to find a way of living "side by side in their own spaces, in the same conditions of security, freedom, opportunities and dignity,” he continued. 

Israeli troops in 'heart' of Gaza City

Israel's army said it was fighting in the centre of Gaza City, still home to thousands of civilians facing an increasingly disastrous situation after a month of deadly war. 

Israeli soldiers were now "in the heart" of the Palestinian territory's largest city, Israel's defence minister Yoav Gallant said Tuesday evening. 

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The comments signalled a new stage for the Israeli military as it moves toward what it says is the headquarters and stronghold of the Hamas..

Ground fighting and Israeli strikes have intensified in recent days to "destroy" the Palestinian militant group, he said, adding "there will be no humanitarian truce without the return of the hostages.”

An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, in a position near the Israel-Gaza border, Monday, Nov. 06, 2023.
An Israeli mobile artillery unit fires a shell from southern Israel towards the Gaza Strip, in a position near the Israel-Gaza border, Monday, Nov. 06, 2023.Ohad Zwigenberg/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

More than 240 people were kidnapped by Hamas in southern Israel on 7 October, sparking the war. 

International organisations have incessantly called for an immediate ceasefire amid Israel's retaliatory attacks in Gaza that have inflicted a horrific toll on civilians.

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Gaza City was populated by some 600,000 people before fighting broke out. 

More than 10,300 people, including 4,237 children, have been killed in Israel strikes against Gaza since 7 October, according to the Palestinian authorities. 

At least 1,400 people - mostly civilians - died on the day of the Hamas attack, the deadliest in Israel's history.

Gaza civilians ask to be 'saved', as cemeteries overflow

For Gaza's 2.4 million residents, despair is now intense after a month of unrelenting Israeli bombardment.

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“Stop this machine of destruction. Save us,” implored Hicham Koulab, a displaced Palestinian, caught up in Israeli bombings of Rafah, southern Gaza.

On Tuesday, Hamas said on Telegram that several cemeteries in the territory "are full and there is no more space for burials."

Trapped in a pocket of land around 362 km2, Gazans have been subjected to a total siege, depriving them of water, electricity and food since 9 October. Internet and phone lines have also been intermittently shut down. 

In the north, people are "desperately seeking food", with only three bakeries having stocks of flour, according to the OCHA. 

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In the south, it takes "four to six hours of waiting on average to receive half of a normal portion of bread", the UN organisation added. 

The Israeli army urged civilians to leave the north and refuge in the south, which it claims is safer. Yet, they have continued to bomb this part of Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of displaced people are crowded together.

More than 1.5 million people are estimated to be internally displaced inside Gaza.

Around half of the territory's population are children. 

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Hamas denies Israel is making big military gains in Gaza City

Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamad said on Tuesday that Israeli forces were not making any significant military gains or that they had advanced deep into Gaza City.

“They never give the people the truth,” Hamad said. He added that numerous Israeli soldiers were killed on Monday and “many tanks were destroyed.”

Palestinians look at buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment in the morgue in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023.
Palestinians look at buildings destroyed in the Israeli bombardment in the morgue in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Nov. 7, 2023.Ohad Zwigenberg/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

“The Palestinians fight and fight and fight against Israel until we end the occupation,” said Hamad, who left Gaza for Beirut days before the attack.

Israel’s military says it has killed thousands of Hamas fighters in the monthlong war. 

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Euronews cannot independently verify the claims of either side.

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