Palestinians must govern Gaza after Israel-Hamas war: US

Gaza residents say Israeli forces are moving closer to two hospitals where thousands of displaced Palestinians were seeking shelter

By Reuters

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Palestinian children inspect at the site of Israeli strikes on houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, November 9, 2023. — Reuters
Palestinian children inspect at the site of Israeli strikes on houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, November 9, 2023. — Reuters

Published: Thu 9 Nov 2023, 1:09 PM

Last updated: Thu 9 Nov 2023, 3:58 PM

Israeli forces battled Hamas militants through shell-blasted buildings in Gaza City on Thursday as some 80 countries and organisations met in Paris to coordinate humanitarian aid and find ways to help wounded civilians escape the siege.

Residents in Gaza City said Israeli were fighting Hamas and other militants and that tanks were stationed around the city. They said Israeli forces were moving closer to two hospitals where thousands of displaced Palestinians were seeking shelter.

The Israeli military said its troops had advanced into the heart of Gaza City, Hamas' main bastion and the biggest city in the Palestinian coastal enclave, while the group said its fighters had inflicted heavy losses.

Hamas' armed wing on Wednesday released a video that appeared to show intense street battles alongside bombed-out buildings in Gaza City.

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Israeli tanks have met heavy resistance from Hamas fighters using underground tunnels to stage ambushes, according to sources.

'No reoccupation of Gaza'

As the war enters its second month, the US said that when the war does end — Palestinians must govern Gaza.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday outlined Washington's red lines and expectations for the besieged coastal territory, pushing back at Israeli comments that it would be responsible for security in Gaza indefinitely.

There should be "no reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends. No attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza," Blinken said at a Press conference in Tokyo.

While Blinken said there may be a need for "some transition period" at the end of the conflict, but post-crisis governance in Gaza must include Palestinian voices.

"It must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority."

The Palestinian Authority (PA), which exercises limited self-rule in parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, says the Gaza Strip, where Hamas has ruled since 2007, is an integral part of what it envisions for a future Palestinian state.

Israeli officials have clarified they do not intend to occupy Gaza after the war, but they have yet to articulate how they might ensure security without maintaining a military presence. Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza in 2005.

Israel launched its military assault on Gaza in response to a cross-border Hamas raid on southern Israel on October 7 in which gunmen killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and took about 240 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.

Palestinian officials said 10,569 people had been killed as of Wednesday, 40 per cent of them children. Israel says 33 of its soldiers have been killed.

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Sea lanes for the wounded

A conference in Paris on Thursday, attended by Arab nations, Western powers, G20 members and NGO groups such as Doctors Without Borders will discuss measures to alleviate the suffering in Gaza, but without a pause in fighting expectations are low.

"The object is really to work with all the participants and also with Israel ... to allow improved access," a French presidential official told reporters ahead of the conference.

Among the options discussed will be setting up a maritime corridor to use sea lanes to ship humanitarian aid into Gaza and see how ships could be used to help evacuate the wounded.

Thousands of Palestinian civilians trudged in a forlorn procession out of the north of Gaza on Wednesday seeking refuge from Israeli air strikes and fierce ground fighting between Israeli troops and Hamas militants.

The exodus took place during a four-hour window announced by Israel, which has told residents to evacuate encircled northern parts of Gaza or risk being trapped in the violence. But the central and southern parts of the enclave also came under fire again.

Huge numbers of displaced people from among Gaza's 2.3 million population are already crammed into schools, hospitals and other sites in the south.

Thousands of others remain in the north, including at Gaza City's main Al Shifa hospital.


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