The latest developments from the Israel Hamas war.
The White House says Israel has agreed to put in place four-hour daily humanitarian pauses in its assault on Hamas in northern Gaza starting on Thursday, as the Biden administration said it has secured a second pathway for civilians to flee fighting.
President Joe Biden had asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to institute the daily pauses during a Monday call.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said that the first humanitarian pause would be announced Thursday and that the Israelis had committed to announcing each four-hour window at least three hours in advance.
Israel, he said, also was opening a second corridor for civilians to flee the areas that are the current focus of its military campaign against Hamas, with a coastal road joining the territory's main north-south highway.
Biden also told reporters that he had asked the Israelis for a “pause longer than three days” during negotiations over the release of some hostages held by Hamas, though he said there was “no possibility” of a general cease-fire.
Asked if he was frustrated by Netanyahu over the delays instituting humanitarian pauses, Biden said, “It’s taken a little longer than I hoped.”
Kirby told reporters Thursday that pauses could be useful to getting the remaining 239 hostages held by Hamas back to their families.
Palestinians killed by Israeli army in West Bank
Eight Palestinians were killed Thursday during an Israeli army raid in Jenin, north of the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian Authority Health Ministry announced.
Intense fighting continued in the early afternoon, according to an AFP journalist who witnessed the bombing, several large explosions and small arms fire.
Al Jazeera report that Israeli forces have been going from house to house in the city looking for armed fighters.
Video footage shared online shows thick black smoke rising above the city, a stronghold of armed groups in the West Bank, occupied since 1967 by Israel.
Fourteen people were also injured, according to the Palestinian Authority.
The Israel Hamas war has caused violence in the West Bank to spike, already at historically high levels before fighting broke out.
Erdogan accuses West of 'weakness' over Gaza
Turkey’s president has denounced Western states' “weakness” in the face of civilian deaths in Gaza and called on Muslim nations to unify against Israel.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a vocal critic of Israel’s actions in Gaza, made the comments on Thursday at a meeting of the 10-member Economic Cooperation Organisation in Uzbekistan.
Erdogan said governments and organisations in the West are observing these “massacres by Israel” from afar but are “too weak to even call for a ceasefire, let alone criticise child murderers.”
“If we, the Economic Cooperation Organization, as Muslims, are not going to raise our voices today...when will we raise our voices," he added.
Erdogan also said Turkey would continue with its diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire and prevent the conflict from spreading.
The Economic Cooperation Organisation is a collection of five Central Asian nations as well as Turkey, Iran, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Negotiations underway for short ceasefire in Gaza
Talks are taking place to strike a three-day humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza in exchange for the release of about a dozen hostages held by Hamas.
That’s according to two officials from Egypt, one from the United Nations and a Western diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The deal could allow more aid, including fuel, to enter the besieged territory, as conditions facing the 2.3 million Palestinians trapped there grow increasingly dire.
It is being brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, according to the officials.
If an agreement is reached, the same formula could be revisited for more pauses and releases, one official added.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said any ceasefire is contingent on Hamas releasing some of the hostages it took during the 7 October attack on southern Israel.
Israel says around 240 people were taken captive by the Palestinian militant group.
A three day ceasefire would allow much-needed humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip, with fuel potentially allowed in for the first time since the war. It would be distributed to hospitals and bakeries under UN supervision.
Israel has barred fuel shipments to Gaza since fighting broke out, arguing Hamas would divert them for military use.
Over the past month, only a trickle of aid, such as medicine, food and water, has entered Gaza. Aid workers say it’s not nearly enough to meet mounting needs.
Under the proposed truce deal, Hamas would release a dozen civilian hostages, most of them foreign passport holders, and provide a complete list of hostages to mediators, according to the officials. The International Committee of the Red Cross would be allowed to visit the hostages.
The diplomat said the talks are complex because of the involvement of different parties in the region and in Western capitals.
Israel tightens noose around Gaza
The Israeli army is strengthening its grip on northern Gaza, as thousands of Palestinians flee south in the hope of finding safety and shelter.
“They are leaving because they understand that Hamas has lost control of the north and that the situation is more secure in the south,” said Israeli army spokesperson Daniel Hagari on Wednesday evening.
He added that an evacuation “corridor" open for a few hours each day since November 5 towards the south of Gaza would be operational again on Thursday.
More than a month of relentless Israeli bombing and the siege has created a dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, with electricity and water cut off.
Civilians have been hit by Israeli strikes even in the south, where they were ordered by Israel to seek safety.
On Wednesday, nearly 50,000 residents left Gaza City, says the Israeli army.
That brings the total number of people who have left the Palestinian enclave's largest city to 72,000, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (Ocha).
However, hundreds of thousands of people remain in northern Gaza "in a disastrous humanitarian situation", it added.
“They struggle to obtain the minimum quantities of water and food necessary for their survival,” the international organisation said.
France hosts Gaza humanitarian summit for Gaza
France is hosting a "humanitarian conference" on Thursday aimed at securing aid for Gaza, made almost impossible by Israel's incessant bombings.
Israel will not attend the summit initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke with Netanyahu on Tuesday and will speak to him again afterwards.
Macron also had telephone conversations on Tuesday with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi and the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, whose countries play a key role in delivering aid to Gaza.
But Arab countries will also not be represented at the highest level.
The Palestinian Authority will be represented by its Prime Minister. Egypt, which controls the only border crossing with Gaza not held by Israel, will send a ministerial delegation.
The conference will, however, be closely followed by humanitarian organisations, who are tirelessly denouncing the lack of aid and the impossibility of providing more, amid Israel's devastating strikes.
Gaza turned into 'living nightmare' - UN official
The UN human rights chief has said Israel's collective punishment of Palestinian civilians and their forced displacement, as well as atrocities committed by Hamas groups on 7 October and their continued holding of hostages, amount to war crimes.
Volker Türk, standing in front of Egypt's Rafah border crossing into Gaza, told reporters on Wednesday: “These are the gates to a living nightmare.”
“We have fallen off a precipice. This cannot continue,” he said later in Cairo, Egypt's capital.
Türk said international human rights and humanitarian law must be respected to help protect civilians and allow desperately needed aid to reach Gaza’s beleaguered population.
He said the UN rights office received reports in recent days about an unspecified orphanage in northern Gaza with 300 children who need urgent help, but communications were down and access was impossible.
“We cannot get to them,” he said.
“I feel, in my innermost being, the pain, the immense suffering of every person whose loved one has been killed in a kibbutz, in a Palestinian refugee camp, hiding in a building or as they were fleeing,” Türk said.
“We all must feel this shared pain — and end this nightmare.”