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Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Deir Al-Balah, in central Gaza Strip on November 6. Picture: MOHAMMED FAYQ ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS
Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a house in Deir Al-Balah, in central Gaza Strip on November 6. Picture: MOHAMMED FAYQ ABU MUSTAFA/REUTERS

UN agency leaders saying “enough is enough” demanded a humanitarian ceasefire on Monday nearly a month into Gaza’s war, as the enclave’s health authorities said dozens more people were killed in overnight attacks by Israeli fighter jets and troops.

Israel has rebuffed mounting international pressure for a ceasefire, saying hostages taken by Hamas militants during their rampage in southern Israel on October 7 should be released first.

“An entire population is besieged and under attack, denied access to the essentials for survival, bombed in their homes, shelters, hospitals and places of worship. This is unacceptable,” the UN chiefs said in a joint statement.

“We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. It’s been 30 days. Enough is enough. This must stop now.”

The 18 signatories include the UN high commissioner for human rights Volker Turk, head of the World Health Organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UN aid chief Martin Griffiths.

A Reuters journalist in the Gaza Strip described the overnight bombardment from the air, ground and sea as one of the most intense since Israel launched its offensive.

Health officials in Hamas-controlled Gaza said more than 9,770 Palestinians have been killed in the war since Hamas killed 1,400 people and seized more than 240 hostages on October 7.

Israel, which says its forces have encircled Gaza City, faces mounting pressure over civilian casualties. A US diplomatic blitz in the region is intended to reduce risks of the conflict escalating.

The health ministry in Gaza said dozens of people were killed by the Israeli air strikes in Gaza City and further south in Gaza neighbourhoods such as Zawaida and Deir Al-Balah. Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV quoted medical sources as saying at least 75 Palestinians were killed and 106 hurt in the attacks.

Palestinian health officials said eight people were killed in an air strike overnight on Gaza City’s Rantissi cancer hospital. Israel’s military said it was looking into the report.

The Israeli army said its strikes hit “tunnels, terrorists, military compounds, observation posts, and antitank missile launch posts”. Ground troops killed several Hamas fighters while taking a militant compound containing observation posts, training areas and underground tunnels, it said.

Blinken in Turkey

US secretary of state Antony Blinken met Turkey’s foreign minister in Ankara to discuss Gaza, hours after hundreds of people at a pro-Palestinian protest tried to storm an airbase that houses US troops in southern Turkey.

Blinken made an unannounced visit to the West Bank on Sunday to meet Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas, who joined international calls for an immediate ceasefire. Blinken reiterated US concerns that a ceasefire could aid Hamas and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled one out for now.

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director William Burns was set to visit Israel on Monday to discuss the war and intelligence with senior officials, the New York Times reported. Burns will make stops in other Middle East countries next, it quoted an unnamed US official as saying.

The CIA did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

Israel said 31 soldiers have been killed since it began expanded ground operations in Gaza on October 27, fighting thousands of Hamas fighters who believe they can hold off Israel’s advance from a warren of tunnels under the enclave.

Israel has called on civilians in north Gaza — the heart of Hamas’ forces — to evacuate for their own safety and announced that it will enable free passage on a southbound highway for four hours every day.

However, UN monitoring showed that fewer than 2,000 did so on Sunday, citing fear, heavy damage to roads and lack of information due to limited communications, a UN humanitarian briefing said.

Lt-Col Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesperson, showed reporters what he said was aerial footage of Hamas tunnels and rocket sites at two hospitals in northern Gaza, saying this showed Israel is not responsible for “what’s happening now in northern Gaza”.

A Hamas statement called on UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres to form a committee to visit Gaza hospitals to verify Israel’s “false narrative” that Hamas uses hospitals as sites.

On average, a child is killed and two are injured every 10 minutes during the war, the UN relief agency for Palestinians said. The agency’s shelters in southern Gaza are overcrowded and unable to take new arrivals, and many displaced people are sleeping in the streets, the UN humanitarian office said.

Telecom provider Paltel said services were resuming after they were disconnected from the Israeli side on Sunday.

The US Central Command, which covers the Middle East, said on X a nuclear missile submarine has arrived in the region — an unusual announcement seen by some analysts as a message to Iran, an Israeli foe.

People searched for victims or survivors at the Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza, where the health ministry said Israeli forces killed at least 47 people in strikes early on Sunday.

“All night I and the other men were trying to pick the dead from the rubble. We got children, dismembered, torn-apart flesh,” said Saeed al-Nejma, 53. Asked for comment, the Israeli military said it was gathering details.

In a separate attack, 21 Palestinians from one family were killed in strikes, the health ministry said. Israel’s military declined to comment.

Reuters could not independently verify these accounts.

Tensions increased with Lebanon after an Israeli strike on a car in the south of the country killed three children and their grandmother, Lebanese authorities said.

Israel said it hit “terrorist targets of Hezbollah in southern Lebanon” in response to a missile attack against tanks that killed an Israeli citizen. Hezbollah said it responded by firing rockets at Kiryat Shmona town in northern Israel.

In Egypt, dozens of foreign passport holders and some medical evacuees passed through the Rafah crossing from Gaza after evacuations resumed following a two-day suspension, three Egyptian security sources said on Monday.

Passage of foreign nationals and dependants, as well as injured Gazans, had ceased on Saturday after an Israeli strike on an ambulance in Gaza, officials said.

After evacuations resumed on Monday about 80 dual nationals and 17 medical evacuees had left through Rafah by early evening, with 48 aid trucks crossing in the other direction, according to the Egyptian security sources.

Update: November 6 2023
This story has been updated with new information.


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