Netanyahu ignores calls for ceasefire
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday that the military will continue its battle against Hamas in Gaza with “full force,” in a rejection of growing international calls for a ceasefire.
Netanyahu said in a televised address that a ceasefire would only be possible if militants in Gaza released all of the 239 hostages taken in the deadly Hamas attack on southern Israel on 7 October.
The Israeli leader also insisted that after the war, now entering its sixth week, Gaza would be demilitarised and Israel would retain security control there.
Asked what he meant by security control, Netanyahu said Israeli forces must be able to enter Gaza when necessary to hunt down militants.
Netanyahu's comments on Saturday night came as thousands of anti-war protesters gathered in Tel Aviv calling for an end to the fighting in Gaza and the release of captives held by Hamas.
Another medical facility under threat
The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli tanks were 20 metres (65 feet) from al-Quds hospital in Gaza City’s Tal al-Hawa neighbourhood, causing “a state of extreme panic and fear” among the 14,000 displaced people sheltering there.
In recent days, fighting near Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest, just three kilometres away from al-Quds, has intensified and supplies have run out. The Israeli military has alleged, without providing evidence, that Hamas has established command posts in and underneath hospitals, using civilians as human shields.
Medical staff at Shifa have denied such claims and accused Israel of harming civilians with indiscriminate attacks.
Shifa Hospital director Mohammed Abu Selmia said Israeli troops were “shooting at anyone outside or inside the hospital” and prevented movement between buildings.
Arab and Muslim leaders reject Israeli argument of “self-defence”
The leaders of Arab and Muslim countries have rejected the Israeli argument of "self-defence" in the Gaza Strip and demanded an immediate end to Israeli military operations in this territory.
The final declaration of a summit held in the Saudi capital said that Arab League members and Muslim countries "refuse to characterise this war as self-defence or to justify it under any pretext."
The leaders also called on the United Nations Security Council to adopt "a decisive and binding resolution" to end Israeli "aggression" in the Gaza Strip.
They warned that failing to do so "encourages Israel to continue its brutal aggression which kills innocent people... and reduces Gaza to ruins.”
UN food agency warns people may starve in Gaza
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has once again called for sustained humanitarian access to Gaza, warning that food stocks inside the besieged region are running out.
“Every day that passes pushes more and more people closer to starvation,” Corinne Fleischer, WFP regional director for Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe, said on X - formerly Twitter.
The WFP says they have enough food for around 244,000 people close to the border with Gaza and also adds that more supplies are constantly arriving in north-eastern Egypt, where an assistance hub will soon be opened.
Hezbollah has stepped up its attacks against Israel, leader claims
Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has said that the group has started using new weapons in the attacks it has carried out daily against Israel since the start of the war in Gaza.
“Over the past week... there has been a strengthening of resistance action on the Lebanese front, due to the number of operations, the number of objectives targeted and also the weapons used,” the head of the pro-Iranian formation.
“For the first time in the history of resistance in Lebanon, we are using suicide drones” to attack targets in Israel, Hassan Nasrallah said in a televised speech.
He also indicated that Hezbollah had also used in recent days, for the first time, "Burkan missiles, which can carry explosive charges of 300 to 500 kilos."
The Hezbollah leader revealed that his formation now sends reconnaissance drones "daily" deep above Israel, "some of which reach Haifa, Acre and Safed" in the north.
There have been daily exchanges of fire between Hezbollah and Israel in the border area between the two countries since the start of the war.
Hassan Nasrallah added that Hezbollah had also used Katyusha rockets to bombard Israeli territory in depth, notably in response to the deaths of civilians - a woman and her three granddaughters - in an Israeli strike on 5 November in southern Lebanon.
At least 90 people were killed on the Lebanese side during cross-border clashes, according to an AFP count, most of them Hezbollah fighters. Six soldiers and two civilians were killed on the Israeli side.
Gaza's main hospital goes dark as intense fighting continues
Israel’s prime minister has pushed back against calls from Western allies to do more to protect Palestinian civilians, as troops encircled Gaza’s largest hospital where doctors said at least five patients have died after the last generator ran out of fuel.
Israel has portrayed al-Shifa hospital as Hamas' main command post, saying militants were using civilians as human shields there and had set up elaborate bunkers underneath it.
Those claims have been denied by both Hamas and al-Shifa staff. In recent days, fighting near al-Shifa and other hospitals in the combat zone of northern Gaza has intensified and supplies have run out.
“There is no electricity. Medical devices stopped. Patients, especially those in intensive care, started to die,” said Mohammed Abu Selmia, the director of al-Shifa, speaking by phone over the sound of gunfire and explosions.
Abu Selmia said Israeli troops were “shooting at anyone outside or inside the hospital," and prevented movement between the buildings in the compound.
The claim that Israeli troops were the sole source of fire can not yet be verified independently.
Asked about reports of troops firing into the al-Shifa courtyard, the Israeli military would only say that troops are engaged in fighting Hamas in the vicinity and take all feasible measures to prevent harm to civilians. It said soldiers have encountered hundreds of Hamas fighters in underground facilities, schools, mosques and clinics during fighting in Gaza.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has persistently said the responsibility for any harm to civilians lies with Hamas, repeating long-standing allegations that the militant group uses civilians in Gaza as human shields. He said that while Israel has urged civilians to leave combat zones, “Hamas is doing everything it can to prevent them from leaving.”
Netanyahu’s latest statement came after French President Emmanuel Macron pushed for a cease-fire and urged other leaders to join his call, telling the BBC there was “no justification” for Israel's ongoing bombing.
Concern has grown in recent days as fighting through the dense neighbourhoods of Gaza City has come closer to hospitals.
Thousands of civilians had been sheltering in the al-Shifa compound in recent weeks, but many fled on Friday after several nearby strikes in which one person was killed and several were wounded.
There are thought to be around 1,500 patients at al-Shifa, along with 1,500 medical personnel and between 15,000 and 20,000 people seeking shelter.
Since the fighting has stepped up, thousands more have fled al-Shifa and other hospitals that have come under attack, but physicians said it's impossible for everyone to get out.
London police clash with counter-protesters as tensions rise over pro-Palestinian peace march
Palestinian supporters marched peacefully through central London on Saturday, even as right-wing counter-protesters clashed with police, after a week of angry debate over whether to permit the demonstration on a day when Britain honoured its war dead.
The day unfolded in a backdrop of tensions fueled by Home Secretary Suella Braverman who earlier this week characterised pro-Palestinian demonstrations as “hate marches” and called for Saturday’s event to be blocked out of respect for Armistice Day events marking the end of World War I.
The skirmishes between police and counter-protesters carrying the Union flag of Great Britain and the red-and-white flag of England appeared to confirm the concerns that Braverman’s comments would attract right-wing elements looking for an excuse to confront the pro-Palestinian marchers.
The march was apparently the largest in London since the start of the conflict, with hundreds of thousands snaking through the city from Hyde Park to the US Embassy about 5 kilometres away.
London police arrested at least 100 people to prevent a ‘breach of the peace’. The force said they were part of a group of counter-protesters trying to reach the main protest march.
Braverman, who oversees law enforcement in Britain, must now resign, said Humza Yousaf, the first minister of Scotland.
“The far-right has been emboldened by the Home Secretary,” Yousaf said on X, formerly known as Twitter. “She has spent her week fanning the flames of division. They are now attacking the Police on Armistice Day. The Home Secretary’s position is untenable.”
More than 2,000 officers, some called in from surrounding forces, will be on the streets of the capital this weekend to ensure marchers obey the law and to prevent potential confrontations with counter-protesters, the Metropolitan Police Service said.
Two premature babies die in Gaza's largest, besieged hospital
The Israeli NGO Physician for Human Rights-Israel has announced that "two premature babies (had) died" after the forced shutdown of neonatal intensive care due to lack of electricity at al-Shifa hospital, the largest in the strip.
There is also "a real risk for the lives of the 37 other premature babies" at the hospital, the NGO said, while intense fighting opposes Israeli troops and fighters from Hamas and supporters close to the establishment in Gaza City.
Doctors Without Borders (MSF), whose staff still operate in the hospital, reports that "during the last 24 hours... the al-Shifa hospital has been hit several times, particularly the maternity ward."
Doctor Marwa Abou Saada, head of the hospital’s surgery department, quoted by the NGO Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP), added that "no one can leave al-Chifa hospital".
“People who tried to get out were shot at. Some were killed, others injured,” he continued.
“Our staff on-site report that people trying to leave the hospital are being targeted by gunfire,” said MSF.
In contrast, the Israeli army claims there was “no shooting at the hospital and no siege” of the establishment. “There is fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas around the hospital,” Israeli Colonel Moshe Tetro said, but claimed, “Even now, if someone wants to leave, they can... the army can coordinate for anyone who wants to leave the hospital safely”.
MSF says it “strongly condemns the death warrant signed by the Israeli army against the civilians currently trapped in the al-Shifa hospital”, demanding “an immediate and unconditional ceasefire”.
Iran asks Muslim countries to label Israeli army a 'terrorist organisation’
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has called on Muslim countries to qualify the Israeli army as a “terrorist organisation” because of its armed operations in the Gaza Strip.
In a speech to Arab and Muslim leaders gathered in the Saudi capital, Raisi also asked Muslim countries to "arm the Palestinians" if "the attacks continue" in Gaza.
Pro-Palestinian march under heavy surveillance in London
Hundreds of people began to gather in London for a pro-Palestinian march organised under heavy police surveillance on this weekend of commemorations of the First World War armistice.
The police said they expected the presence of more than 100,000 demonstrators in the capital, who came to demand a ceasefire, five weeks after the deadly attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas against Israel.
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has warned London police chief Mark Rowley that he will hold him "responsible", particularly if protesters disrupt Armistice Day commemorations, planned at the same time in the capital.
“It is thanks to those who fought for this country and for the freedom we cherish that those who wish to demonstrate can do so, but they must do so in a respectful and peaceful manner,” Downing Street said.
The route of the march carefully avoids the Whitehall area, where the main Armistice ceremony is due to take place.
Nearly 2,000 police officers were mobilised to ensure the security of both the commemorations and the demonstration. The Metropolitan police stressed that this weekend would be “particularly tense and difficult”.
Fighting intensifies around Gaza hospitals - reports
Israel is facing increasing calls to protect civilians in Gaza, as fighting with Hamas intensified around hospitals in the small Palestinian territory where residents are seeking refuge to escape intense bombardment.
On the 36th day of the conflict triggered by an unprecedented attack by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas on Israeli soil, half of the 36 hospitals in Gaza which have been constantly bombed since 7 October are no longer functioning "at all" according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
On Saturday morning, clouds of smoke rose into the sky over Gaza City and numerous gunshots could be heard.
According to its director, the al-Shifa hospital, was the target of fire. “Al-Shifa was targeted all night by intense artillery fire, like other hospitals in Gaza City,” Mohammed Abou Salmiya said.
The director specified that the ambulances had not been able to pick up “dozens of dead” and “hundreds of injured” because of “the strikes and projectiles”.
According to Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, "one person was killed and many others were injured in strikes on the intensive care building of al-Shifa hospital" on Saturday morning, the day after a bombing which left 13 dead in this same hospital complex, according to Hamas.
The Israeli military has not yet commented on these claims. On Friday, they said they would "kill" Hamas fighters "who shoot from hospitals" in Gaza and said in the evening that they had eliminated "around 150 terrorists."
The Palestinian Red Crescent said Israeli snipers fired on al-Quds hospital on Friday.
Arab and Muslim leaders will demand end to violence in Gaza
Arab leaders and Iran's president will meet in Saudi Arabia on Saturday for a joint summit that is expected to highlight the urgency of ending Israel's attacks on Gaza before conflict engulfs the region.
Emergency meetings of the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) are being held in Riyadh, five weeks after the start of the war.
Since then, Israel has relentlessly bombed the Palestinian territory controlled by Hamas, killing more than 11,000 people, including at least 4,500 children, according to the Hamas government's Health Ministry.
The Arab League and the OIC were initially scheduled to hold their meetings separately, but the Saudi Foreign Ministry announced early on Saturday that the two summits would be held jointly.
The Arab League will discuss "the way forward on the international stage to end the aggression, support Palestine and its people, condemn the Israeli occupation and hold it accountable for its crimes," the deputy secretary general of the Arab League said.
Islamic Jihad, Hamas' ally in Gaza, said, however, that it expected "nothing" from this meeting. “We do not place our hopes in such meetings” which have never produced results, Mohammad al-Hindi, deputy secretary general of the group, said on Friday at a press conference in Beirut.
“The fact that this conference is being held after 35 days (of war) is a clear indication,” he added.
Israel and its main ally, the United States, have so far rejected demands for a ceasefire, a stance that is expected to draw sharp criticism at Saturday's meetings.
According to Saudi analyst Aziz Alghashian, fingers should not only be pointed at Israel but also at those who "make it easier... that is to say essentially the United States and the West".
The differences in position were clearly displayed during the latest visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to the region, and that of British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly on Thursday in Riyadh, where he met some of his counterparts.
“What we have said is that it is understandable to ask for a ceasefire, but we also recognize Israel's right to take measures to ensure its own stability and security,” Cleverly said.
Red Cross: ‘Point of no return’ for hospitals in North Gaza
Hospitals, healthcare workers and patients in northern Gaza must be protected as intense fighting rages, the International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) has said.
“Overstretched, running on thin supplies and increasingly unsafe, the healthcare system in Gaza has reached a point of no return risking the lives of thousands of wounded, sick and displaced people,” the organisation said.
The statement, which did not specifically name either the Israeli military or Palestinian militants, came after several reported strikes on or near at least four hospitals in northern Gaza. Tens of thousands of people had crowded into hospital grounds, believing they would be safe.
The ICRC noted that children’s hospitals had sustained major damage from the fighting. The Nasr Hospital was heavily damaged by fighting and Rantisi Hospital had to completely shut down, the statement said. It also added that Al-Quds Hospital is fast running out of supplies.
Macron ‘urges Israel to stop’ bombings killing civilians in Gaza
French President Emmanuel Macron "urges Israel to stop" the bombings killing civilians in Gaza, in an interview with the BBC.
"We share (Israel's) pain. And we share their desire to get rid of terrorism." But "de facto, today, civilians are being bombed. These babies, these women, these elderly people are being bombed and killed." There is “no justification” and “no legitimacy for this. We therefore urge Israel to stop,” he stressed.
The Hamas Ministry of Health announced that 11,078 people, including 4,506 children, have been killed in Israeli bombardments on the Gaza Strip since the start of the war triggered by the bloody attack of the Palestinian Islamist movement against Israel on 7 October.
This “reaction in the fight against terrorism, because it is led by a democracy, must be consistent with the international rules of war and international humanitarian law,” said the French president.
Asked about a possible violation of international law by Israel, Emmanuel Macron stressed that he was "not a judge", but "a head of state".
He also expressed concern that the "massive bombing" of Gaza would create "resentment" in the region.
“There is no other solution than a humanitarian pause first” to move towards a “ceasefire, which will protect all civilians who have nothing to do with the terrorists,” he insisted.
“It is impossible to explain that we want to fight against terrorism by killing innocent people,” the French president further underlined.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reacted to Macron's remarks by emphasising that "responsibility for any harm done to civilians lies with Hamas", which started the war with the massacres of 7 October and which uses civilians as “human shields”.
More than 250 attacks on Gaza health care system - WHO
The World Health Organisation has verified more than 250 attacks on hospitals, clinics, patients and ambulances in Gaza since Hamas’ incursion into Israel on 7 October - as well as 25 attacks on health care in Israel.
In Gaza, the “health system is on its knees” and the situation on the ground “is impossible to describe,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.
“As we speak, there are reports of firing outside the al-Shifa and Rantisi hospitals,” he said, adding that Palestinian health workers were still saving lives despite being “directly in the firing line.”
Last week saw attacks on five hospitals in one day in Gaza, Ghebreyesus said, and in the past 48 hours, four hospitals with some 430 beds were put out of action.
He said half of the Gaza Strip’s 36 hospitals and two-thirds of its primary health care centres are not functioning, and facilities that are functioning “are operating way beyond their capacities.”
Israel lowers 7 October death toll to 1,200 people
Israel’s Foreign Ministry says the official death toll in Hamas’ 7 October cross-border attack into Israel has been lowered to 1,200 people.
Israeli officials have previously estimated the death toll at 1,400.
The ministry gave no reason for the revision. But an Israeli official said the number had been changed after a painstaking weeks-long process to identify bodies, many of which were mutilated or burned.
The official said the final death toll could still change. He said a number of bodies have not been identified and it is unclear whether all of the nearly 240 hostages believed to be held by Hamas are still alive.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity pending an official government announcement.