War in Gaza: 18 countries urge Hamas to free hostages as Israeli strikes hit Rafah

FILE - Palestinians flee from northern Gaza as Israeli tanks block the Salah al-Din road in the central Gaza Strip Friday, Nov. 24, 2023,
FILE - Palestinians flee from northern Gaza as Israeli tanks block the Salah al-Din road in the central Gaza Strip Friday, Nov. 24, 2023, Copyright AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman, File
Copyright AP Photo/Mohammed Dahman, File
By Euronews with AP
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All the latest developments from the Israel Hamas war.


US President Joe Biden and leaders from various countries released a joint statement urging Hamas to release hostages in Gaza, intensifying public pressure to advance negotiations over a potential ceasefire with Israel.

US officials claim there is "a deal on the table that would bring a ceasefire immediately to Gaza, but Hamas has rejected it".

The statement was issued by Biden and the leaders of 17 other countries, all of which have citizens who are missing or were taken hostage during the October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas.

Shortly after, relatives of some of the hostages, while gathering in Tel Aviv, called other countries of the world to join the 18. But the families also said it's time to pass from the words to the actions. 

The other countries are Argentina, Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Spain, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

Israeli strikes hit Rafah

Palestinian hospital officials said Israeli airstrikes on the southern city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip killed at least five people.

More than half of the territory’s population of 2.3 million have sought refuge in Rafah, where Israel has conducted near-daily raids as it prepares for an offensive in the city. 

The Israeli military has massed dozens of tanks and armored vehicles in the area in what appears to be preparations for an invasion of Rafah.

In central Gaza, four people were killed in Israeli tank shelling.

'Little progress but not enough on aid deliveries'

Northern Gaza is still heading toward famine because Israel hasn’t allowed the daily delivery of food and other critical items for hundreds of thousands of people in desperate need, the UN food agency’s deputy chief says.

Carl Skau, the deputy executive director of the World Food Program, said on Thursday that a little progress has been made since Israel made commitments on April 5 to speed up aid deliveries, but not enough.

Seven to 12 trucks have gone to the area every other day, or every third day in the last three weeks, he said, with at least 30 trucks needed each day.

“We haven’t seen that paradigm shift that is needed to avert a famine,” Skau said.

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