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Israel-Hamas war updates and latest news on Gaza conflict

China urges Israel to abide by international humanitarian law in its self defense

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi speaks at a press briefing during the Third Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on October 18, 2023.

Wang Zhao | Afp | Getty Images

China urged Israel to abide by international humanitarian law and to protect the safety of civilians in its war with the Hamas militant group, calling for peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians in “major choices between war and peace.”

“Every country has the right to self-defense, but every country should abide by international humanitarian law and protect the safety of civilians,” China Foreign Minister Wang Yi was reported to have told his Israeli counterpart Eli Cohen in a call on Monday.

Read this story for more.

— Clement Tan

Obama warns that ignoring human cost in war could ‘ultimately backfire’

Former U.S. President Barack Obama cautioned that “any Israeli military strategy that ignores the human costs could ultimately backfire.”

Spencer Platt | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Former U.S. President Barack Obama has called for restraint in the Israel-Hamas war.

“The world is watching closely as events in the region unfold, and any Israeli military strategy that ignores the human costs could ultimately backfire,” Obama warned in a blog post.

He emphasized his support for the Jewish state and its right to protect its citizens, saying: “I fully support President Biden’s call for the United States to support our long-time ally in going after Hamas.”

“But even as we support Israel, we should also be clear that how Israel prosecutes this fight against Hamas matters,” Obama said, highlighting that Israel must abide by international rules, “including those laws that seek to avoid, to every extent possible, the death or suffering of civilian populations.”

“This is an enormously difficult task. War is always tragic, and even the most carefully planned military operations often put civilians at risk,” he acknowledged.

“The Israeli government’s decision to cut off food, water and electricity to a captive civilian population threatens not only to worsen a growing humanitarian crisis; it could further harden Palestinian attitudes for generations, erode global support for Israel, play into the hands of Israel’s enemies, and undermine long term efforts to achieve peace and stability in the region,” he warned.

Joanna Tan

Clean water shortages a ‘major concern’ in the Gaza Strip, U.N. humanitarian agency says

Clean water shortages remain a “major concern” in the Gaza Strip, as humanitarian aid supplies start to trickle into the besieged enclosure, the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in its latest update.

“The shortage of clean potable water, alongside water consumption from unsafe sources, remains a major concern,” OCHA said.

“On 23 October, the Rafah crossing with Egypt opened for the third consecutive day, allowing the entry of 20 trucks carrying food, water and medical supplies. This is equivalent to about four per cent of the daily average volume of commodities entering Gaza prior to the hostilities. None of the aid shipments have included desperately needed fuel to power hospitals and water facilities.”

Deprived of Israeli resources, the Gaza Strip began receiving humanitarian assistance over the weekend, as U.N.-brokered truck convoys entered the territory through the Rafah crossing from Egypt.

The U.N. agency drew further alarm bells over the overcrowding of hospitals in the Gaza Strip, with the Shifa facility — the largest in the area — currently treating 5,000 patients, or over seven times more than its capacity of 700 patients.

OCHA estimates there are now 1.4 million internally displaced persons in the Gaza Strip, of whom 590,000 people are taking cover in the shelters of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees group.

Ruxandra Iordache

Hamas hostage release is an attempt to ‘buy time,’ IDF spokesperson says

The “cynical” Monday release of two Israeli hostages is a bid by Palestinian militant group Hamas to buy time and does not lay the foundation of a cease-fire, an Israeli spokesperson said overnight.

“Hamas is doing what we are anticipating they would do: very cynical, psychological warfare, trying to bide for time, buy time, by using the release, the slow drip release of some of the hostages,” Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Jonathan Conricus told NBC News in a TV interview, stressing that all of the 222 hostages abducted by Hamas on Oct. 7 must be returned.

Hamas released two hostages on Monday, bringing the combined count to four. The IDF did not play a part in negotiating the captives’ return, according to Conricus.

Israeli Army Spokesperson for International Media, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus.

Jalaa Marey | Afp | Getty Images

Asked whether Hamas’ Monday concession paved the path to a cease-fire, the IDF spokesperson said, “I am not aware of any such discussions. The only thing I am aware of is troops ready on the ground, air force striking Hamas targets from the air, and an elevated sense of understanding within the IDF that there is a tremendous task at hand that needs to be done.”

The IDF has been accruing forces at the border with the Gaza Strip enclave, in preparation for a long-anticipated ground incursion that some have begun to question whether U.S. diplomacy could deter.

“Our ground forces are ready to commence significant military operations in Gaza and to bring the fight to Hamas on their home turf, whenever we will get the directive from the war cabinet, that will commence,” Conricus said, adding there is “very close coordination, both on the military and on the strategic international level between Israel and the U.S,” specifically to prevent a spillover of the Israel-Hamas conflict into the broader Middle East.

Ruxandra Iordache

Two elderly Israeli hostages arrive in Tel Aviv after their release

One of the freed hostages in a wheelchair disembarks from a military helicopter after landing on the roof of Ichilov Hospital.

Picture Alliance | Picture Alliance | Getty Images

Two Israeli women who were captured and subsequently freed by Hamas landed in Tel Aviv, Israel early Tuesday.

An Israeli military helicopter carrying Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, arrived on the rooftop of Ichilov hospital, according to Reuters footage.

One of them was seen in a wheelchair while the other was carried out on a stretcher.

The military wing of Hamas said in a statement on Telegram that the women were released for “compelling humanitarian” reasons. The Israel Defense Forces has previously said the militant group is “trying to present itself as a humanitarian organization to the world” by releasing hostages.

Hamas militants massacred 1,400 people, including babies, women and elderly, and kidnapped more than 200 people from Israel in their Oct. 7 rampage. Little is known about their well-being and whereabouts.

The militants have so far released four hostages.

Joanna Tan

Third aid convoy enters Gaza, UN warns fuel about to run out

A third convoy of humanitarian aid trucks delivered water, food and medicine to the besieged Gaza Strip on Monday, but the United Nations warned that fuel was not included and reserves will run out within the next two days.

Humanitarian deliveries through the Rafah crossing from Egypt began on Saturday after wrangling over procedures for inspecting the aid and bombardments on the Gaza side of the border had left relief materials stranded in Egypt.


Not the time for a ceasefire in Israel-Hamas conflict, says White House’s Kirby

This is not the time for a ceasefire in the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants, White House national security spokesman John Kirby told CNN on Monday.

“We don’t believe that this is the time for a ceasefire,” he said. “Israel has a right to defend themselves. They still have work to do to go after Hamas leadership.”


Israel says the two hostages released by Hamas will receive medical treatment and see family shortly

Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, who was held as hostage by Palestinian Hamas militants, is seen in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on October 23, 2023, as Hamas announced she was going to be released.

Hostages And Missing Families | via Reuters

A spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office confirmed that Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yochaved Lifshitz, 85, were released by Hamas after being taken hostage for a little over two weeks.

“After being handed over to the Israeli Defense Forces, they are making their way at this time to a medical center in Israel that was organized and specially prepared to receive them. Their family members will be waiting for them there,” Netanyahu’s office wrote in a statement.

Nurit Cooper, 79, who was held as hostage by Palestinian Hamas militants, is seen in this handout picture obtained by Reuters on October 23, 2023, as Hamas announced she would be released.

Hostages And Missing Families Forum | via Reuters

“We thank Egypt for the assistance and the Red Cross for their important role as life savers. The Government of Israel, the IDF and the entire security establishment will continue to operate with the best of their abilities and efforts in order to locate all of the missing and return all of the abductees home,” the statement added.

— Amanda Macias

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