Israel must “behave differently” in the south of Gaza to how it did in its full-frontal campaign in the north, Lord Cameron warned on Thursday.
Both Britain and the US will continue to stress the need to protect civilian life to Israel, the Foreign Secretary told CNN on a visit to Washington.
“Ultimately the long-term security of Israel does depend not only on their own armed strength and fortitude, but also on having Palestinians able to live in peace and security as well,” Lord Cameron said, in comments that reflect a toughening Western stance on the death-toll of Israel’s two-month-old war on Hamas.
Reports emerged from Jerusalem on Thursday night that Anthony Blinken, America’s top diplomat, had told Israeli officials Washington expected it to conclude its offensive in Gaza within the next month.
According to The Times, Mr Blinken conveyed concerns over the mounting death toll to Mr Netanyahu’s government and said Joe Biden expected the war to end three months after it began.
It comes amid a growing fissure in the US president’s party over his position and the high Palestinian civilian casualties.
Mr Blinken refused to confirm the reports during a joint press conference with Lord Cameron at the US State Department on Thursday night.
He reiterated America’s strong support for “Israel’s efforts to ensure that they can effectively defend itself and as I’ve said, repeatedly, do its best to ensure that October 7 never happens again”.
“In our conversations with Israel, we talk about how long this campaign will take, and also, how it is being prosecuted,” he conceded, adding: “But these are decisions for Israel to make.”
Israel on Thursday suggested it would open one of its southern border crossings into Gaza to allow for more aid.
Colonel Elad Goren, head of COGAT, the Israeli agency for civilian co-ordination with the Palestinians, said Kreem Shalom would be opened “for inspection” in the “next few days”.
Martin Griffiths , the UN aid chief, said negotiations were under way for the crossing to open for humanitarian supplies, saying “it would be the first miracle we’ve seen for some weeks”.
Kerem Shalom sits on Gaza’s southern border with Israel and Egypt and was used to bring in 60 per cent of aid before the war.
Joe Biden, the US president, spoke by telephone with Benjamin Netanyahu , Israel’s prime minister to discuss the offensive.
Western leaders have been pushing for greater deliveries of aid into the Gaza Strip, where around 80 per cent of the population have been displaced from their homes, the UN said on Thursday. Vast portions of the region have been flattened as Israeli troops advance.
According to the Hamas-run Gazan health authorities, the death toll from the operation stands at more than 17,000.
Heavy fighting continued on Thursday in the main southern city of Khan Younis, where many Hamas leaders were living before the Oct 7 attack.
Air strikes also hit the southernmost city of Rafah on Wednesday night, where thousands of Gazans have fled since Khan Younis became an active warzone.
Maysaa Said, 28, who fled Gaza city for Rafah in mid-October says he no longer feels safe even in the tiny strip of land next to the Egyptian border.
“This area is supposed to be safe according to the Israeli forces. Last night we could hear successive powerful airstrikes in Tel Al Sultan like what they call a fire belt. Later we heard two bombings where we were, the third missile didn’t explode,” she told The Telegraph.
“There is no safe place in the Gaza Strip, but we are trying to stay safe as much as we can. Rafah isn’t safe. We constantly hear bombings somewhere nearby.”
04:00 PM GMT
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03:25 PM GMT
Anti-tank missile fired from Lebanon kills civilian in Israel
An anti-tank missile fired from Lebanese territory killed a civilian in northern Israel on Thursday, according to the Israeli army and emergency medical service.
In a statement, the army said “terrorists launched an anti-tank missile from Lebanese territory toward the area of Matat”, while the emergency service Magen David Adom said in a separate statement that a 60-year-old man was brought to one of their teams nearby with no vital signs and declared dead.
“Additional launches from Lebanon toward Israel were also identified,” the army said, adding its “helicopters, tanks and artillery are striking the sources”.
Lebanese movement Hezbollah said in a statement that it had targeted the “Matat barracks” with “appropriate weapons and caused confirmed casualties”.
03:03 PM GMT
Meta oversight board to examine Israel-Hamas war content
Meta’s independent Oversight Board said it will review how the company has handled violent content on its social media platforms in two cases involving hostage-taking and bombing in the Israel-Hamas conflict.
The cases will be the first to use a new expedited review mechanism announced earlier this year that requires the board to make decisions within 30 days. The board usually deliberates for several months on its cases.
The board’s decision to take on the cases comes as social media platforms have been flooded with violent, hateful and misleading content in the two-month-old war between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement in Gaza which carried out the Oct. 7 attack on Israeli towns that set off the conflict.
After that attack, Meta temporarily lowered its threshold for removing potentially harmful content, including posts that clearly identified hostages taken by Hamas. The company has also faced accusations that it was suppressing expressions of support for Palestinians living under Israel’s military response in Gaza.
In one case to be reviewed by the board, Meta took down a video on Instagram showing the aftermath of an explosion at the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, including injured and dead children, the board said.
02:50 PM GMT
Hamas launching rockets from civilian safety zones, Israel claims
Israel has accused Hamas of launching rockets from within civilian safe zones in the southern Gaza Strip.
Twelve rockets were launched from the Al Mawasi zone on Wednesday and at least one more close to a humanitarian area in Rafah, the Israeli military said, accusing Hamas of “using the civilians as a human shield”.
Displaced civilians have fled to the desolate area of Al Mawasi on Gaza’s southern Mediterranean coast, which Israel has said is safe.
The former Bedouin village lacks shelter, food and other necessities, according to refugee organisations.
One Palestinian who fled to Al Mawasi told Al Jazeera: “We suffered from the war of cannons and escaped it to arrive at the war of starvation.
“We divide one tomato between all of us.”
02:43 PM GMT
Pictured: Residents and civil defence teams rescue a Palestinian person under the rubble in Khan Yunis, Gaza
02:11 PM GMT
Israel defends efforts to deliver aid to Gaza
Israel has defended its efforts to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip, following sharp criticism of its handling of the humanitarian crisis unfolding inside the territory.
An Israeli siege has limited the supplies of food, water, fuel and medicines entering Gaza, where hundreds of thousands of displaced residents are massing around the southern cities of Rafah and Khan Yunis after fleeing intense combat in the north.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has warned that conditions in the territory are “deteriorating into a catastrophe with potentially irreversible implications”.
Israeli NGO B’Tselem went as far as accusing Israel of “deliberately starving the population” to pressure Hamas.
Elad Goren, an officer with the Israeli defence ministry body responsible for Palestinian civilian affairs, COGAT, insisted Israel was making every effort to get aid in.
“We are trying to expand the humanitarian aid, and over 60,000 tonnes of aid have entered through Rafah. We would like the international community to increase its capabilities,” he told reporters.
“We are allowing hundreds of trucks into Gaza. It’s just a matter of logistics and what the UN can take and distribute inside Gaza.”
01:55 PM GMT
Gaza has gone 'far beyond' a humanitarian crisis, says medical charity
Gaza faces a catastrophe extending far beyond a humanitarian crisis, the head of medical charity Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has said, describing the situation in the densely populated enclave as chaotic.
Israeli forces battled Hamas in the Gaza Strip’s biggest cities on Thursday in a new phase of the war that is now entering its third month, with wide areas of the narrow territory flattened by Israeli bombardment and 85 per cent of the 2.3 million population left homeless, according to UN figures.
“My people on the ground keep updating me on the situation, and I can tell you that it has gone far beyond the humanitarian crisis,” Dr Christos Christou, international president of Doctors Without Borders, told reporters in Geneva.
“It is a humanitarian catastrophe. It is a chaotic situation, and I’m extremely worried that very soon people will be in a mode of just trying to survive, which will come with very severe consequences.”
In a bid to escape Israeli bombardment, Gazans have amassed at the southern tip of Gaza, heeding Israeli leaflets and messages saying that they would be safe on the border with Egypt. The United Nations and aid organisations have said that nowhere is safe in Gaza.
“The people have been asked to be squeezed in a very small area,” Dr Christou said. “My teams on the ground keep saying to me that it is unbearable. It is unsustainable ... There is no safe place.”
01:33 PM GMT
Israel bars Palestinian ex-detainee, 14, from former school
Israel has said a Palestinian teenager who was among the youngest prisoners and detainees it freed under a Gaza truce cannot return to his former school in Jerusalem until at least mid-January after a period of probation.
Ahmad Salaymeh’s family sees in the ban a violation of his rights as well as a reminder of Israeli control over Palestinians in Jerusalem.
Salaymeh, 14, was arrested in July, with police accusing him of stone-throwing, grievous bodily harm and property damage. An additional terrorism count indicated that he was accused of having attacked Israelis for political reasons.
The boy denies any wrongdoing.
12:31 PM GMT
IDF operating in the heart of Khan Younis
12:29 PM GMT
Austria ends suspension of aid to Palestinians
Austria will lift a suspension of aid to Palestinians announced two days after Hamas’s deadly October 7 attack on Israel, after a review found no indication funds were being used to promote terrorism.
“There is no indication that Austrian development projects funded by the ADA (Austrian Development Agency) were misused to fund or promote terrorism or to spread anti-Semitic content,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Nine projects funded by Austria had been reviewed with a total value of 17.5 million euros ($18.8 million), it added.
The ministry did not specify what proportion of the projects were in the West Bank, which is controlled by the Western-backed Palestinian Authority led by President Mahmoud Abbas, whose Fatah movement is a rival to Hamas.
Soon after Austria’s announcement that it was freezing aid pending the review, neighbouring Germany said it was also reviewing aid to the Palestinians. The European Union also ordered its own review, and said last month there was no evidence of funds going to Hamas and assistance would continue.
11:46 AM GMT
Egypt strives to accelerate aid delivery to Gaza
Egypt is striving to accelerate the delivery of aid to the Gaza Strip, a senior official has said, after the amount of relief getting through to the Palestinian enclave dipped with the end of the Israel-Hamas truce on Dec. 1.
Diaa Rashwan, head of the State Information Service, said Egypt would never allow the emptying of the Gaza Strip of its residents as Israel’s military campaign pushes them southwards towards the border with Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula.
Rashwan added that Egypt believed Israel’s operations in the Israeli-occupied West Bank aimed to force Palestinians towards Jordan.
Since the conflict in Gaza began on Oct. 7, the Rafah crossing on its border with Egypt has been the only entry point for aid trucks carrying desperately needed supplies of food, medicines, water and fuel.
11:36 AM GMT
Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar is 'underground', says Israel as troops close in
Yahya Sinwar is “underground,” the Israel Defense Forces has said, as troops surround the home of the Hamas chief in Khan Younis.
Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said Sinwar is “not aboveground, he is underground,” but would not elaborate on where Israel believes him to be. “Our job is to find Sinwar and kill him,” he said.
Sinwar, believed to be the mastermind of the Oct 7 terror attack, has not been seen in public during the war. Israel has named him and the leader of Hamas’s armed wing, Mohammed Deif, as its top military targets.
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: “His house may not be his fortress and he can escape but it’s only a matter of time before we get him.”
Israel has said it believes many Hamas leaders and fighters are holed up in underground tunnels.
11:14 AM GMT
'Where do you want us to go?'- Airstrikes rain down on Rafah overnight
Air strikes also rained down on Rafah in Gaza’s far south, a city near the Egyptian border that has been turned into a vast camp for many of the 1.9 million internally displaced Palestinians.
One of those on the move, Khamis Al-Dalu, told AFP that he had first fled Gaza City and then Khan Yunis for Rafah, where his family was now sheltered in a tent against the worsening winter chill.
“There was bombardment, destruction, leaflets dropped, threats and phone calls to evacuate and to leave Khan Yunis,” he said about Israeli army warnings. “Where do you want us to go for God’s sake?”
Eight more air strikes hit Rafah overnight, an AFP correspondent said, as the health ministry reported at least 37 people killed and many more wounded.
10:43 AM GMT
Pictured: Palestinians line up for flour distributed by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees
10:12 AM GMT
Operations at a north Gaza ambulance centre come to a halt, says PCRS
🚨 The operations at the PRCS ambulance center in the northern of #Gaza came to a halt. The depletion of fuel for vehicles and the closure of hospitals operating in the northern region made it impossible to evacuate the wounded and martyrs.#NotAtarget#IHL pic.twitter.com/oc0eKNaqQd
— PRCS (@PalestineRCS) December 7, 2023
09:57 AM GMT
Gaza at 'severe risk of collapse,' warns UN Secretary-General
I've just invoked Art.99 of the UN Charter - for the 1st time in my tenure as Secretary-General.
Facing a severe risk of collapse of the humanitarian system in Gaza, I urge the Council to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe & appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire to be declared. pic.twitter.com/pA0eRXZnFJ
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) December 6, 2023
09:31 AM GMT
Palestinian Authority assuming power after war 'not going to happen' while I'm in power, says Netanyahu
The Palestinian Authority (PA) will not assume power in Gaza during his time as prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has said.
“As long as I am Prime Minister — this will not happen. Whoever educates their children for terror, funds terror and supports families of terrorists, could not control Gaza after we eradicate Hamas,” he said.
The Israeli prime minister ruled out a return of the PA, underscoring the difference between Israeli and US approaches to governance of Gaza after the war.
Joe Biden has previously said a “revitalised” PA should govern the Gaza Strip and West Bank after the war.
08:55 AM GMT
Pictured: Médecins Sans Frontière staff speak out about the war in Gaza
08:52 AM GMT
Civilian casualties in Gaza 'too high,' says US spokesman
Too many Palestinian civilians continue to be killed in Gaza, a US state spokesman has said.
Matt Miller said the burden was on Israel to “do everything it can” to reduce civilian harm.
“A good component of this is the problem presented by Hamas embedding in civilian sites in Khan Younis just as it did in Gaza City,” Mr Miller told a news briefing.
“But that doesn’t lessen the burden that’s on Israel to do everything it can to reduce civilian harm.”
08:39 AM GMT
Shapps to visit Middle East
British Defence Secretary Grant Shapps will use a trip to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to push for humanitarian aid to be delivered faster, including by sea directly into Gaza, his office has said.
He will discuss with leaders there options to provide civilians in Gaza with more aid, how the UK can support the Palestinian Authority, the recovery of hostages, as well as efforts to prevent further escalation in the Middle East.
“We are working to find the best way to get aid and support to those in desperate need in the quickest and most direct route. That includes options by land, sea and air,” Shapps said.
Earlier this week Mr Shapps said Britain was considering sending military support vessel RFA Lyme Bay to provide medical and humanitarian aid in the Middle East.
08:33 AM GMT
Pictured: A woman mourns over the bodies of family members at Nasser hospital in Rafah
08:32 AM GMT
US still wants to see Saudi-Israel normalisation, energy envoy says
US energy envoy Amos Hochstein said he did not think hope should be lost with regards to normalisation of relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel and it remains a goal for his country despite the ongoing war in Gaza.
Saudi Arabia put US-backed plans to normalise ties with Israel on ice, sources familiar with Riyadh’s thinking told Reuters nearly two months ago, as the war between Hamas and Israeli forces escalated.
“I think that not every road is a straight road and sometimes it goes in different directions first. But the goal is still the same,” Mr Hochstein said speaking on the sidelines of an industry event in the United Arab Emirates.
“And we remain as committed to that goal of regional integration, and it’s not just about Saudi Arabia and Israel, it has to be much broader than that.”
“I don’t think we are changing directions, I don’t think this conflict should do that. In fact this conflict should be a doubling down on reminding us that if we don’t go towards regional integration, peace and security - this is the alternative,” he added.
08:28 AM GMT
Israel approves 'minimal' fuel increase to Gaza
Israel approved a “minimal” increase in fuel supplies to war-torn Gaza to prevent a “humanitarian collapse”, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said.
The announcement comes as the United Nations warned of a total breakdown of public order in Gaza as fighting intensifies in the south of the Palestinian territory.
A “minimal supplement of fuel - necessary to prevent a humanitarian collapse and the outbreak of epidemics” had been approved to enter “into the southern Gaza Strip”, Mr Netanyahu’s office wrote on X, formerly Twitter.
It said the fuel supply increase was “necessary to avoid a humanitarian collapse and the outbreak of epidemics in the south of the Gaza Strip”, which is controlled by Hamas.
“The minimal amount will be determined from time to time by the War Cabinet according to the morbidity situation and humanitarian situation in the Strip,” it added.
08:26 AM GMT
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