February 20, 2024

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories: Hamas warned Sunday that no hostages would depart Gaza alive except its calls for for prisoner releases are met.

In a televised assertion, a Hamas spokesman mentioned Israel is not going to obtain “their prisoners alive with out an trade and negotiation and assembly the calls for of the resistance.”

Senior Hamas official Bassem Neim mentioned in late November the motion was “able to launch all troopers in trade for all our prisoners.”

Israel says there are nonetheless 137 hostages in Gaza, whereas activists say round 7,000 Palestinians are in Israeli jails.

Hamas triggered the battle with the deadliest-ever assault on Israel on October 7 through which it killed some 1,200 individuals, based on Israeli figures, and dragged round 240 hostages again to Gaza.

Israel has responded with a relentless army offensive that has lowered a lot of Gaza to rubble and killed no less than 17,997 individuals, largely girls and kids, based on the Hamas-run well being ministry.

On Sunday, a supply near Hamas and Islamic Jihad informed AFP each teams had been engaged in “fierce clashes” with Israeli forces close to Khan Yunis, the place an AFP journalist additionally reported heavy strikes, in addition to Jabalia and Gaza Metropolis’s Shejaiya district within the north.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu known as on Hamas to surrender.

“It’s the starting of the top of Hamas. I say to the Hamas terrorists: It’s over. Don’t die for (Yahya) Sinwar. Give up now,” he mentioned, referring to the Hamas chief in Gaza.

The Israeli military mentioned Sunday it struck greater than 250 targets in 24 hours, together with “a Hamas army communications website,” “underground tunnel shafts” in southern Gaza, and a Hamas army command heart in Shejaiya.

It mentioned 98 troopers have died and round 600 wounded within the Gaza marketing campaign.

Some 7,000 “terrorists” have been killed, based on Nationwide Safety Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi.

“Hamas shouldn’t exist, as a result of they don’t seem to be human beings, after what I noticed they did,” Menahem, a 22-year-old soldier wounded on October 7, informed AFP throughout a military-organized tour that didn’t permit him to present his surname.

After greater than two months of battle, the World Well being Group mentioned Gaza’s well being system was collapsing.

“Gaza’s well being system is on its knees and collapsing,” mentioned World Well being Group chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, with solely 14 of 36 hospitals performing at any capability.

WHO’s govt board on Sunday adopted a decision calling for instant, unimpeded support deliveries.

The UN estimates 1.9 million of Gaza’s 2.4 million individuals have been displaced — roughly half of them kids — many pressured south and operating out of protected locations to go.

AFP visited the bombed-out ruins of Gaza Metropolis’s Al-Shifa hospital and located no less than 30,000 individuals taking refuge amid the rubble after Israeli forces raided the medical facility final month.

“Our life has turn into a residing hell, there’s no electrical energy, no water, no flour, no bread, no medication for the youngsters who’re all sick,” mentioned Mohammed Daloul, 38, who fled there together with his spouse and three kids.

UN Secretary-Common Antonio Guterres mentioned the Safety Council’s “authority and credibility had been severely undermined,” after the US blocked a cease-fire decision on Friday.

“I can promise, I can’t hand over,” Guterres informed Qatar’s Doha Discussion board.

Qatar, the place Hamas’s prime management relies, mentioned it was nonetheless engaged on a brand new truce just like the week-long cease-fire it helped mediate final month that noticed 80 Israeli hostages exchanged for 240 Palestinian prisoners and humanitarian support.

However Israel’s relentless bombardment was “narrowing the window” for fulfillment, mentioned Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday once more rejected a cease-fire.

“With Hamas nonetheless alive, nonetheless intact and… with the acknowledged intent of repeating October 7 many times and once more, that might merely perpetuate the issue,” he informed ABC Information.

However Blinken additionally informed CNN that Israeli forces ought to guarantee “army operations are designed round civilian safety.”

In Rafah in southern Gaza, one displaced girl mentioned she had been caught there for 18 days regardless of having an Egyptian passport.

“At any time when I wish to go someplace, we hear bombing and shelling and really feel scared and return,” mentioned Noura Al-Sayed Hassan.

“I’ve been looking for bread for my daughter for over per week now.”

The pinnacle of the UN company for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) voiced alarm over what he feared could be a mass expulsion of Palestinians into Egypt.

In an opinion piece Saturday within the Los Angeles Instances, Philippe Lazzarini mentioned “the developments we’re witnessing level to makes an attempt to maneuver Palestinians into Egypt.”

An Israeli spokesman responded: “There’s not, by no means was, and by no means will likely be an Israeli plan to maneuver the residents of Gaza to Egypt.”

The combating in Gaza has sparked pro-Palestinian protests in lots of international locations, together with massive gatherings in Morocco, Denmark and Turkiye on Sunday.

However there have been additionally demonstrations towards anti-Semitism, together with in Brussels the place European Fee President Ursula von der Leyen helped mild an enormous Hanukkah menorah candelabrum.

There are fears of regional escalation with frequent cross-border exchanges between Israel and Lebanese militants, and assaults by pro-Iran teams towards US and allied forces in Iraq and Syria.

Syrian state information company SANA reported late Sunday that Israeli strikes hit targets close to the capital Damascus, though the nation’s air protection programs was capable of deter some “and losses had been restricted to supplies.”

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that Israeli bombings “focused Lebanese Hezbollah websites” together with areas close to the Damascus Worldwide Airport, noting that the bombing “was in three rounds.”

In the meantime, Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels threatened to assault any vessels heading to Israel except extra support was allowed into Gaza.

France mentioned Sunday one in every of its frigates within the Purple Sea had shot down two drones launched from Yemen.