Israel has agreed to pause operations in northern Gaza for four hours a day from Thursday, according to the White House. This marks the first sign of relief in the month-long conflict that has resulted in numerous casualties and raised concerns about a wider regional conflict. The pauses will allow people to evacuate through two humanitarian corridors and are seen as significant initial steps. The Israeli government has assured that there will be no military operations in these areas during the pause, which was confirmed by White House national security spokesperson John Kirby. The decision to implement these pauses emerged from recent discussions between U.S. and Israeli officials, including talks between President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Earlier, Israeli forces engaged in battles with Hamas militants in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, gradually advancing towards two major hospitals. This has exacerbated the dire situation for civilians in the besieged Palestinian territory. Thousands of Palestinians are fleeing from the north to the south, following Israel’s evacuation orders. However, many are choosing to stay in the north, seeking refuge in Al Shifa Hospital and al-Quds Hospital despite the ongoing ground battles and airstrikes.
Israel claims that Hamas has command centers embedded in these hospitals. In Doha, the heads of the CIA and Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency met with the prime minister of Qatar to discuss a potential deal involving the release of hostages. Qatar has previously acted as a mediator with Hamas. Meanwhile, officials from around 80 countries and organizations gathered in Paris to coordinate humanitarian aid for Gaza and find ways to assist wounded civilians.
Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, emphasized the urgent need for a ceasefire, the lifting of the siege, and an end to indiscriminate bombings and warfare to prevent further loss of life. Israel and the United States argue that a full ceasefire would benefit Hamas. The conflict began when Israel launched its assault on Gaza in response to a cross-border raid by Hamas, resulting in a significant loss of life and drawing international condemnation.
The situation in Gaza has raised concerns about a humanitarian catastrophe. Palestinian officials reported a high number of casualties, with a significant percentage being children. Basic supplies are running low, and extensive areas have been devastated by Israeli bombardments. Gaza City, a stronghold of Hamas, is surrounded by Israeli tanks, and both sides have inflicted heavy casualties on each other in intense street battles. Israel has lost 33 soldiers in its ground operation.
Thousands of Palestinians have sought refuge at Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, defying Israel’s evacuation orders. They are living in tents on the hospital grounds, as they have nowhere else to go. The United Nations humanitarian office has reported that Israel has once again instructed residents of the north to move south, but shelling along the main road poses a threat to evacuees. Those who have managed to cross into the south describe the harrowing journey, holding their ID cards and searching for transportation amidst Israeli tanks.
Southern areas of Gaza have also been subjected to regular attacks. In Khan Younis, the main southern city, residents are sifting through rubble and debris in search of survivors after an Israeli airstrike destroyed a building. Tensions have escalated on other fronts as well, with Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah firing missiles into Israel and Israel responding with artillery fire. In the occupied West Bank, ten Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces during a raid, while Israel’s military stated that it was conducting counter-terrorism operations.
An unidentified drone struck a civilian building in the southern Israeli city of Eilat, causing minimal damage. The situation remains highly volatile, with ongoing clashes and escalating tensions. The reporting for this article was done by various RushHourDaily correspondents in Gaza, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Washington, and other bureaus. The article was written by Angus MacSwan and Andrew Heavens, with editing by Peter Graff and Nick Macfie. The article adheres to the Thomson RushHourDaily Trust Principles.
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