Israel-Palestine conflict: Deaths hit 2,400 as Gaza suffers under siege with no electricity, water

Israel has formed an emergency war cabinet, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing to 'crush and destroy' Hamas

By Agencies

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Palestinians look at the destruction of a house in the aftermath of a strike amid the conflict with Israel in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, October 12. — Reuters
Palestinians look at the destruction of a house in the aftermath of a strike amid the conflict with Israel in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, October 12. — Reuters

Published: Thu 12 Oct 2023, 9:43 AM

Last updated: Thu 12 Oct 2023, 11:05 PM

The Israeli government is under intense public pressure on Thursday to topple Hamas after its militants stormed through a border fence Saturday and killed hundreds of Israelis in their homes, on the streets, and at an outdoor music festival.

Deaths in both Israel and Gaza rose to 2,400, with thousands wounded, and scores taken hostage. As families scrambled to find missing loved ones, rescuers had been pulling out dead bodies from the rubble — uncovering massacre sites one after another.

With the world closely watching and joining forces to protect civilians, violent threats and attacks escalated as the conflict between Israel and Palestine entered Day 6 on Thursday.

Here's what we know so far:

  • No humanitarian break for Gaza 'until Israeli hostages are returned home'

Israel has put Gaza under "total siege" to stop food and fuel reaching the enclave of 2.3 million people, many poor and dependent on aid. Hamas media said electricity was cut after the only power station stopped working.

The country's Energy Minister Israel Katz said electricity, water, and fuel supply would not be restored unless hostages were freed.

"Humanitarian aid to Gaza? No electrical switch will be lifted, no water hydrant will be opened and no fuel truck will enter until the Israeli hostages are returned home. Humanitarian for humanitarian. And nobody should preach us morals," Katz posted on social media platform X.

The response comes after the Red Cross pleaded for fuel to be allowed in to prevent overwhelmed hospitals from "turning into morgues".

Reuters
Reuters
  • Israel launches 'large-scale strike'

At around 4.30am on Thursday, Israel's military said it was conducting a "large-scale strike" on targets belonging to Hamas in Gaza.

Military spokesperson Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hecht said the latest strikes overnight were focused on Hamas' "Nukhba Force", which spearheaded Saturday's attacks. Palestinian gunmen were still trying to infiltrate Israel by sea and the military was still working to secure the Gaza fence, he added.

Hamas media said 15 Palestinians had been killed and several wounded in the latest Israeli air strikes. Witnesses reported Israeli aircraft heavily bombarding Gaza city and Gazan authorities also reported an air strike on the Jabalia refuge camp in northern Gaza.

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  • Ground assault being prepared against Hamas: Army

The Israeli army said Thursday it was preparing for a ground assault on Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip but that the country's political leaders had not yet taken a decision.

"We are waiting to see what our political leadership decides about a potential ground" incursion, army spokesperson Hecht told journalists.

"This has not been decided yet... But we are preparing for a ground manoeuvre if it is decided," he added.

The army has deployed tens of thousands of troops to the border with the Gaza Strip as it continues with a withering air campaign it says targets Hamas infrastructure, commanders and operating centres in the enclave.

  • Harrowing scenes on the ground

With Palestinian rescue workers overwhelmed, others in the crowded coastal strip searched for bodies in the rubble.

People walk on rubble in the aftermath of a strike amid the conflict with Israel in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 12. — Reuters
People walk on rubble in the aftermath of a strike amid the conflict with Israel in Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 12. — Reuters
Reuters
Reuters

"I was sleeping here when the house collapsed on top of me," one man cried as he and others used flashlights on the stairs of a building hit by missiles to find anyone trapped.

Israeli military says death toll now 1,200, more than 2,700 injured, scores taken hostage. The death toll in Gaza has risen to 1,200, with around 5,600 wounded, Palestinian media reported, citing Gaza's health ministry.

  • More flight cancellations

British Airways said it would suspend all its flights to Tel Aviv after it diverted a flight from London back to Britain citing security concerns in Israel.Separately, Virgin Atlantic said it will halt all flights to and from Tel Aviv for the next 72 hours, citing the safety of passengers and crew.

A spokesperson for Israel's airports authority said rockets were flying around Tel Aviv at the time of the British Airways diversion, but there was no immediate threat to the flight or to Ben Gurion Airport..

People walk next to a sign directing for shelter after landing in Israel at the arrivals section of Ben Gurion International airport in Lod near Tel Aviv on October 11. — Reuters
People walk next to a sign directing for shelter after landing in Israel at the arrivals section of Ben Gurion International airport in Lod near Tel Aviv on October 11. — Reuters

Aviation authorities have cautioned airlines flying to Israel but haven't grounded flights, though some experts have warned that the current airspace situation was risky due to ongoing rocket attacks.

Since the surprise attack by Palestinian militant group Hamas on Israel on Saturday, many international airlines have suspended flights to and from Tel Aviv.

Dubai-based carriers, including Emirates and flydubai, have announced that they will reduce their daily flights to and from Tel Aviv.

Governments and airlines have sought to add flights from Israel to evacuate their country's citizens, while Israeli airlines have sought to fly reservists back to Israel.

  • UAE, US presidents talk about ensuring humanitarian aid

The UAE President, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, spoke with US President Joe Biden in a phone call and discussed how humanitarian assistance can reach those in need.

The two sides emphasised the critical need to prioritise the protection of civilians and open safe corridors to enable the delivery of humanitarian aid. They also discussed the importance of coordination among regional and international parties in calling for restraint and immediate de-escalation.

  • Deaths among foreigners climb

Twenty-one Thai nationals have been killed in the conflict between Israel and militant group Hamas, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said on Thursday, up from the previous toll of 20.

"The update from last night is bad news that one more Thai died, the number rises to 21," he said. There are approximately 30,000 Thais in Israel, mostly working in the agriculture sector, according to Thailand's labour ministry.

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Two Filipinos were also confirmed to have died in Hamas attacks. One was a caregiver who was shot dead with her employer inside their home, while the other was believed to have been captured by the militants. A third fatality is being confirmed, according to authorities.

  • Every Hamas member is a dead man: Netanyahu

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu teamed up with a top political rival to create a wartime Cabinet on Wednesday, he vowed to “crush and destroy” Hamas.

“Every Hamas member is a dead man,” he said in a televised address.

The new Cabinet establishes a degree of unity after years of bitterly divisive politics and at a time when the Israeli military appears increasingly likely to launch a ground offensive into Gaza.

Palestinians search for survivors of Israeli aerial bombing on Jabaliya, near Gaza City on October 11. — AP
Palestinians search for survivors of Israeli aerial bombing on Jabaliya, near Gaza City on October 11. — AP

Former Defense Minister Benny Gantz, a centrist opposition leader, spoke live on Israeli television alongside Netanyahu and Defense Minister Gallant after forming the war cabinet focused entirely on the conflict.

"Our partnership is not political, it is a shared fate," said Gantz. "At this time we are all the soldiers of Israel."

  • Egypt turns down aid corridor proposal

The Egyptian government has rejected any proposal to establish corridors out of Gaza for Palestinians fleeing Israel’s bombardment in Gaza, a senior Egyptian official said early Thursday.

The official said they were talking with Israel and the US about establishing safe corridors inside Gaza and the allowance of humanitarian aid to besieged Palestinians.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to brief media, was responding to White House National Security spokesperson John Kirby, who said that the Biden administration is in active conversations to achieve safe passage out of Gaza for civilians.

Egypt's state-run media reported that Israel's offensive is part of a scheme to empty the enclave.

  • Fighting continues; jets, tanks deployed

Israel's jets pounded Gaza and tanks massed around the Palestinian enclave on Wednesday, with the army saying it killed three Hamas militants in a fresh confrontation on nearby Israeli territory.

Hamas' armed wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, said it was still fighting inside Israel on Wednesday, and the Israeli military said a tank fired on three militants in a vehicle near Nir Am kibbutz, just outside northeast Gaza, and killed them.

Israel has deployed formations of tanks and armoured vehicles near Gaza in possible preparation for a ground offensive into the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

Hamas' armed wing said it had targeted the northern Israeli coastal city of Haifa with an R60 rocket. There were no immediate reports of casualties after sirens sounded in Haifa and nearby towns.

  • US warns Iran: 'Be careful'

US President Joe Biden warned Iran against getting involved in Israel's conflict with Hamas amid fears of a wider regional conflict.

Biden despatched his top diplomat, Antony Blinken, to the Middle East to show Washington's enduring support for Israel, seek to secure the release of captives, including Americans, and prevent a wider war from erupting.

Blinken was expected to arrive in Israel on Thursday and will also visit Jordan. He was not scheduled to visit the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where he ordinarily meets Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

"We made it clear to the Iranians: Be careful," Biden said, while speaking to a roundtable of Jewish community leaders in Washington.

  • Malaysia speaks out against total siege of Gaza

Malaysian Foreign Minister Zambry Abdul Kadir slammed Israel’s “outrageous acts of cruelty” in cutting off food, water and fuel to the Gaza Strip. He said Thursday that evacuation plans are underway to bring home a Malaysian doctor and her three children caught in the conflict.

Zambry also said a group of 23 Malaysians and Singaporeans safely crossed over to Egypt on Tuesday.

A strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, Malaysia has blamed the crisis on the oppression and injustice against the Palestinian people. Zambry said Malaysia will provide one million ringgit ($212,000) as emergency fund to help Palestinians.

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