Israel Says Hostages, Suspended Aid to Gaza Fighting

  • Recent developments
  • At least 23 Palestinians were killed in two separate Israeli airstrikes early Tuesday in the southern Gaza cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, health officials said.
  • The Israeli military said on Tuesday it had taken control of a Hamas military stronghold in the northern Gaza Strip, where it said forces had found anti-tank missiles and rockets, weapons and various intelligence items.

GAZA/JERUSALEM, Nov 7 (Reuters) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would consider “tactical mini-pauses” in fighting in the Gaza Strip to allow or help hostages leave, but again rejected calls for a ceasefire despite international pressure.

Israel’s military, which surrounded the heavily populated Gaza City north of the enclave where the Islamist group Hamas is based, said it had captured a militant compound and was ready to attack militants hiding in underground tunnels.

At least 23 Palestinians were killed in two separate Israeli airstrikes early Tuesday in the southern Gaza cities of Khan Younis and Rafah, health officials said.

In Khan Younis, a man was rescued from the rubble of a house where 11 people were killed, Palestinian health officials said, warning that Israel would be “taught a very hard lesson”.

“This is the bravery of the so-called Israel, they are showing their strength and power against civilians, children inside, children inside and the elderly,” the man, who gave his name as Ahmad Ayesh, told reporters.

Israel has bombed the enclave since Hamas launched an attack on southern Israel a month ago, in which its fighters killed 1,400 people and took 240 hostages.

Gaza health officials say the Israeli offensive has killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, including 4,100 children.

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Both Israel and Hamas have rejected growing calls to end the fighting. Israel says it wants the hostages released first. Hamas says it will not release them or stop fighting when Gaza comes under attack.

Netanyahu said a general ceasefire would hamper his country’s war effort, but a pause in fighting for humanitarian reasons, an idea backed by Israel’s top ally the United States, would continue to be considered based on the circumstances.

“As for the tactical little pauses — an hour here, an hour here — we’ve already had them. I think we’ll check the conditions for supplies, humanitarian supplies to come in or to process our hostages, individual hostages. We have to leave,” Netanyahu told ABC News on Monday.

“But I don’t think there will be a general ceasefire.”

US President Joe Biden discussed such suspensions and hostage releases in a phone call with Netanyahu on Monday, reiterating his support for Israel while insisting it must protect civilians, the White House said.

Like Israel, the US fears that Hamas will take advantage of the full ceasefire to regroup.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who called for an urgent ceasefire, warned on Monday that Gaza was becoming a “graveyard for children”.

“Civilians, hospitals, refugee camps, mosques, churches and UN facilities – including shelters – have been hit by the Israeli Defense Forces’ ground operations and continuous bombardment. No one is safe,” Guterres told reporters.

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“At the same time, Hamas and other militants use civilians as human shields and continue to fire rockets indiscriminately at Israel,” he said.

International organizations say hospitals are unable to cope with the injured, and aid is not getting enough food and clean water.

“We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It’s been 30 days. Enough is enough. It must stop now,” the leaders of several United Nations organizations said in a statement on Monday.

The Israeli military said on Tuesday it had taken control of a Hamas military stronghold in the northern Gaza Strip, where it said forces had found anti-tank missiles and rockets, weapons and various intelligence items.

Israeli airstrikes hit several Hamas fighters who were sheltering in a building near Al-Quds Hospital and planning to launch an attack on Israeli forces.

Cut to Gaza City

The Israeli military released video on Monday of tanks moving through bomb-torn streets and groups of troops on foot. It is said to have encircled Gaza City and cut off the northern parts of the narrow coastal strip from the south.

In a press conference, chief military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said troops were hunting down Hamas field commanders to weaken the militants’ ability to “launch counterattacks.”

The UN Security Council met behind closed doors on Monday. The 15-member body is trying to pass a resolution after failing four times in two weeks to take action. Diplomats said a key obstacle to accessing aid in Gaza was whether to call for a cease-fire, cease-fire or humanitarian moratorium.

At a meeting of foreign ministers from the G7 leading democracies in Tokyo, Japan’s Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa said the group planned to call for a ceasefire and allow humanitarian access to Gaza.

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The Biden administration has told the US Congress that it plans to transfer $320 million in precision-guided munitions to Israel, a source familiar with the plan said on Monday.

Israel said on Monday it was striking Hezbollah targets in Lebanon in response to a barrage of rockets fired at northern Israeli cities. Israel’s military said it found about 30 missiles fired from Lebanon in an hour.

Since the 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel, Iran-backed Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with Israeli forces along the Lebanon-Israel border since October 7.

Hamas said it fired 16 missiles at Israel’s Nahariya and southern Haifa.

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Emily Rose in Gaza, Patricia Zengerle in Washington and Michelle Nichols in the United Nations; By Daphne Psaledakis and Lincoln Feist; Editing by Rami Ayyub, Cynthia Osterman & Simon Cameron-Moore

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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A veteran reporter with nearly 25 years of experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace agreement between the two sides.

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