Israel expands Gaza operation as mediator says hostage deal ‘close’

As a mediator, Israel expands its Gaza operation and declares the hostage situation” close. “

As the military announced on Sunday that it was “expanding its operational activities in additional neighbourhoods… of the Gaza Strip,” Israel has forewarned residents about Jabalia, the largest refugee camp in Gaza, and a nearby coastal camp to evacuate.

An AFP reporter in Gaza witnessed columns of smoke rising from Jabaliaon on Sunday following the intense bombing.

More than 80 people were killed on Saturday in two attacks on Jabalia, including one on a UN school that was providing refuge for the displaced.

According to AFP-verified social media videos, mattresses were crammed under school tables and bodies were found on the floor of a building covered in blood and dust.

According to Israel’s military, Jabalia is one of the targets because it “targets terrorists and destroys Hamas infrastructure.”

The Israeli army stated that” an incident in the Jabaliaregion” was being reviewed without mentioning the strikes.

The alleged school strike was criticized by UN rights chief Volker Turk on Sunday, who added that” the horrifying events of the last 48 hours in Gaza beggar belief.”

The Indonesian hospital close to Jabalia reportedly came under shelling on Monday, according to Palestinian news agency Wafa.

” Window of legitimacy”

After a string of brutal cross-border raids on October 7 that left 1, 200 people dead, the majority of them civilians, Israel launched its offensive against Hamas.

According to the Hamas government, Israel’s ground and aerial bombardment operations in Gaza have claimed the lives of 13, 000 children.

Israel is under intense international pressure to defend its bloody toll six weeks into the war.

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A “window of legitimacy” has been warned by Israeli officials to prevent the war from enclosing Hamas.

On Monday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi demanded immediate action to halt the Gazan “humanitarian disaster.”

Wang told visiting diplomats from countries with an Arab and Muslim majority that the situation in Gaza “affects all countries around the world, questioning the human sense of right and wrong and humanity’s bottom line.”

Israel presented evidence on Sunday that Hamas gunmen had concealed foreign hostages and covered underground tunnels in Gaza’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa.

Two male hostages from Nepal and Thailand were reportedly taken into the hospital on October 7 according to footage that the Israeli military released.

According to army spokesman Daniel Hagari, both of these hostages have not yet been found.

A manin shorts and a light blue shirt were seen being dragged into an entrance hall by five men, at least three of whom were carrying weapons, in one clip.

A second clip shows armed men wheeling in a wounded man in underwear while several other people in blue hospital scrubs watch.

The footage could not be immediately verified by AFP.

Israel also displayed images of what it claimed was a 55-meter-long underground tunnel beneath the hospital and accused the Palestinian militant group of killing Israeli soldier NoaMarciano, 19, at Al-Shifa.

Hamas and hospital administrators dispute Israel’s repeated claims that Al-Shifa serves as a base for Palestinian militants.

The hospital has been designated a “death zone” by the World Health Organization.

As loud explosions could be heard throughout the complex over the weekend, hundreds of people fled Al-Shifa Hospital on foot.

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With displaced people, doctors, and nurses, columns of sick and injured people could be seen leaving.

An AFPjournalist reported that there were at least 15 bodies scattered along the route, some of which were in the early stages of decomposition.

On Sunday, the WHO reported that 31 premature babies had been removed from the facility.

Israeli troops were still present in the hospital, which was surrounded by tanks, according to Al-Shifa head ofsurgery Marwan Abu Sada.

He stated on Sunday that he had heard at least two explosions since this morning.

According to other doctors, the troops were searching for Hamas tunnels by moving from building to building and detonating explosives on hospital basements and ground floors.

” Big, big hole in our hearts,” she said.

During the worst attack in Israel’s history, the militants kidnapped about 240 people, most of whom were Israeli citizens but also dozens of foreigners, and Israel has vowed to eradicate Hamas and free them.

According to the Israeli military, two female hostages ‘ bodies were found in Gaza this week.

Hamas has so far freed four kidnapped people, and troops have saved a fifth.

Qatarimediators announced on Sunday that a deal to release some of the Hamas-held hostages in Gaza was getting closer.

Hopes that Israeli, Nepalese, American, or other captives could soon be released were raised when Qatar’s prime minister announced that efforts to return hostages” safely back to their homes” in exchange for a temporary ceasefire were now possible.

Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said, adding that only “minor” practical issues remained unresolved,” I’m now more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal.”

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Children, teenagers, and pensioners are among the hostages. Not only their families, but also the entire Israeli population, have been affected by their fate.

Negotiators were” closer to securing a deal than we have been in quite some time,” according to US deputy national security adviser Jon Finer.

However, he continued,” The adage “nothing is agreed upon until all matters are resolved actually applies.”

The distraught father of missing 9-year-old Emily Hand pleaded for her to be returned to her family in London.

He told AFP that until she returns home,” there’s just a big, big hole in all our hearts that wo n’t be filled.”



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