New Delhi, Nov 17: Israel has announced the discovery of two bodies of hostages near Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. The victims have been identified as Yehudit Weiss, a 65-year-old cancer survivor, and Israel Defence Forces Corporal Noa Marciano, a 19-year-old soldier. Both were abducted on 7 October atrocities when Hamas gunmen kidnapped approximately 240 people, resulting in the deaths of 1,200 individuals.
According to Daniel Hagari, spokesperson for the IDF, Israeli intelligence played a crucial role in pinpointing the exact location of Corporal Noa Marciano’s body. Her remains have been returned to her grieving family in Israel.
During the IDF’s operation at Al-Shifa, officials claim to have uncovered a tunnel shaft and a “booby-trapped vehicle” on the hospital grounds. The IDF has shared images and videos purporting to show Hamas’ tunnels beneath Gaza hospitals. Earlier announcements by Israel had already indicated the discovery of these sites.
“Inside the Shifa Hospital complex, a Hamas terrorist tunnel was uncovered,” tweeted the IDF, accompanying the statement with a video allegedly depicting the entrance to an underground passage on the hospital grounds.
The IDF also shared earlier images of what they claimed to be “another terrorist tunnel” in Gaza’s main children’s hospital, Al-Rantisi. Earlier this week, the IDF released a video from the same hospital, reporting the discovery of weapons and explosives.
In the latest revelation, the IDF posted a picture of “a large amount of weaponry and ammunition” found in Al-Quds hospital. Israel contends that Hamas is operating within and beneath hospitals, a claim supported by the US, though both Hamas and hospital authorities consistently deny these allegations.
Israeli forces had previously raided Al-Shifa hospital, suspecting it to house a Hamas command centre—a claim vehemently denied by Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to CBS News in the US, cited “strong” intelligence indicating that hostages were being held at the hospital, although they had been moved by the time the IDF closed in.
UN May Halts Aid Delivery Due to Fuel Shortage
The UN cites its inability to utilise the Rafah crossing, the only available entry point, for aid delivery today due to the lack of fuel and phone connections. The ongoing ban by Israel on fuel entering the Gaza Strip for nearly six weeks has been a consistent grievance among humanitarian workers.
While a small amount of fuel was permitted this week for UN vehicles, it has already been depleted, resulting in a further breakdown of internet and phone services in the region. The situation underscores the urgent need for international intervention to address the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
The United Nations (UN) has declared a dire situation in Gaza as it announced the suspension of aid deliveries from Friday due to a critical lack of fuel. The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) reveals that nearly the entire 2 million population of Gaza is in urgent need of food assistance, with civilians facing the immediate threat of starvation.
According to the WFP, the absence of fuel has led to the shutdown of all WFP bakeries, leaving only a quarter of food shops operational. The limited food available at these shops is being sold at significantly inflated prices. The scarcity of fuel and electricity has rendered cooking impossible for many residents, forcing some to rely on canned foods, while others survive on raw ingredients.
Cindy McCain, the executive director of the WFP, warns, “Supplies of food and water are practically non-existent in Gaza, and only a fraction of what is needed is arriving through the borders.” As winter approaches, she emphasizes the dire conditions in unsafe and overcrowded shelters, coupled with a lack of clean water, placing civilians at the immediate risk of starvation.
McCain stresses the urgent need for an additional access point for aid delivery, stating, “There is no way to meet current hunger needs with one operational border crossing.”
The suspension of mobile phone and internet services, attributed to the fuel shortage, further exacerbates the crisis, according to Palestinian telecom companies.
Netanyahu Acknowledges Challenges in Minimising Civilian Casualties in Gaza Conflict
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has conceded that Israeli forces have not been “successful” in minimizing civilian casualties in the ongoing conflict in Gaza. However, he attributed the difficulty to Hamas, the militant group controlling the Gaza Strip. The admission comes as the death toll in the territory has surpassed 11,500 since Israel initiated retaliatory strikes.
In an interview with US television channel CBS News, Netanyahu stated that the Israeli military is making efforts to evacuate Gaza civilians from harm’s way. Despite these attempts, he acknowledged that the success in minimizing casualties has been limited. When questioned about the potential repercussions of the high Palestinian death toll on the sentiments of a new generation, Netanyahu emphasized the tragic nature of civilian deaths.
“Civilian death is a tragedy. And we should not have any because we’re doing everything we can to get the civilians out of harm’s way, while Hamas is doing everything to keep them in harm’s way,” Netanyahu asserted. He highlighted the measures taken by Israel, including sending leaflets and making phone calls to warn civilians to leave targeted areas.
News agencies reported that on the same day as Netanyahu’s comments, Israel’s air force dropped leaflets in south Gaza, urging residents to evacuate for their safety. However, it remained unclear where these individuals were expected to relocate, as Israel continued its military operations throughout the besieged territory.
Weeks earlier, similar leaflet drops were used in northern Gaza to advise civilians to move to the south, resulting in a mass displacement that raises concerns among Palestinians about the potential long-term impact on their communities.
US Secretary of State Accuses Hamas of Endangering Civilians in Gaza Conflict
In a statement, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Hamas of endangering civilians by embedding itself in hospitals, schools, and civilian residences. Speaking to ABC News on Thursday, Blinken expressed confidence that there were command centres in the tunnels beneath Al-Shifa hospital, emphasizing that it has been the practice of Hamas to use civilian infrastructure to shelter its fighters.
When asked about the US’s stance on Israel being in Gaza after the war, Blinken stated, “We don’t.” He ruled out the possibility of a re-occupation of Gaza by Israel, asserting that Gaza cannot be used as a platform for launching terrorist attacks. Blinken advocated for moving forward to a situation where Palestinians have political rights and the ability to govern themselves in their state.
Addressing the situation in the West Bank, Blinken called Benny Gantz, a key member of Israel’s war cabinet, urging affirmative steps to de-escalate tensions and confront rising levels of settler extremist violence.
With approximately 200 Palestinians killed in the West Bank since the October 7 attack, concerns are rising among Arab diplomats about the potential for escalating violence in the region.
Blinken also contacted Egypt’s foreign minister, emphasizing the need for concrete steps to minimize harm to Palestinian civilians in Gaza. He expressed deep concern about a strike on a Jordanian medical facility in Gaza during a call with his Jordanian counterpart.
Analysts reported that the shift in the US stance was evident as it chose not to veto a UN resolution, the first time, which failed to condemn Hamas. Other world leaders, including the British Prime Minister and the French President, have also raised concerns about the loss of Palestinian lives.
International media reported that Israel’s foreign minister, Eli Cohen, acknowledged the growing international pressure for a ceasefire, suggesting that his country may have “two or three weeks” before this pressure becomes overwhelming.
Three killed in Israeli Military Raids in Jenin Hospital and Refugee camps
Last night, at least three Palestinians were killed and 10 others wounded in an Israeli military raid on a hospital in Jenin in the West Bank, as reported by media sources. The Israeli military claimed to have killed five gunmen during the operation and confiscated six rifles. Simultaneously, Palestinian medical sources to the media reported that three Palestinians lost their lives in an Israeli drone attack on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.
Jenin refugee camp has been a frequent target of Israeli forces since the October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, with a significant and deadly raid occurring just a week ago, resulting in the death of 14 individuals and the injury of at least 20 others.
The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics estimated that there are still 807,000 people living in Gaza City and North Gaza significantly reduced from the pre-conflict population of 1.2 million as the majority of them moved to the south after they were asked to evacuate north Gaza.