Netanyahu declares war on Gaza as Knesset approves emergency government - Day 6 as it happened

Ahram Online , Friday 13 Oct 2023

Egypt and Jordan are working closely to deliver urgent humanitarian aid and medical supplies to Palestinians under round-the-clock Israeli assaults in the Gaza Strip while Israel carried out airstrikes against Aleppo and Damascus airports in Syria.

A convoy of Israeli armoured vehicles advances near the border with Gaza on October 12, 2023. AFP


00:40 Human Rights Watch have confirmed that Israeli forces have used white phosphorus, banned by international law, in military operations in Gaza and Lebanon which puts civilians at risk of serious and long-term injuries.

"Human Rights Watch verified videos taken in Lebanon and Gaza on October 10 and 11, 2023, respectively, showing multiple airbursts of artillery-fired white phosphorus over the Gaza City port and two rural locations along the Israel-Lebanon border, and interviewed two people who described an attack in Gaza," the report said.

00:15 Israel beef up security as Hamas calls for Day of Rage on Friday. The Palestinian group called all its supporters around the world to express their solidarity and show support against the oppression of Israel and its aggression on Gaza.

23:40 Hamas released a video message on their Telegram channel denouncing the biased Western media and governments, especially the United States, for the racist speech by its President, Joe Biden.

The group stressed that the military operation, "Al-Aqsa Flood," launched on Saturday, was a defensive act, and its decision was purely Palestinian. Hamas said the operation was only targeting military bases and compounds, with clear instructions to avoid civilians.

They played down any possibility of a prisoner swap as long as the aggression on Gaza continues.

23:15 “Not a single electricity switch will be flipped on, not a single faucet will be turned on, and not a single fuel truck will enter until the Israeli hostages are returned home,” Israeli Energy Minister Israel Katz said on social media.

23:00 The death toll from Israeli strikes on Gaza has risen to 1,537, with 6,612 people wounded, the Gaza-based Health Ministry reported.

Of those killed, 276 were women and 500 were under the age of 18, the ministry said.

22:40 Israel army revealed that a soldier was killed and another one wounded yesterday in a missile attack by Hezbollah on the Lebanon border.

21:45 National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters that "there is no intention, no plan and, frankly, no desire by the Israelis for US combat troops to be involved in this conflict."

21:20 President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called for protecting civilians on all sides and avoiding the policy of starvation, siege, and displacement.

21:00 Britain’s government says it is deploying two Royal Navy ships to the eastern Mediterranean within days to show support for Israel, offer “deterrence and assurance” and support humanitarian efforts.

The government that U.K. Royal Air Force surveillance planes will also begin patrols on Friday to help “track threats to regional security, such as the transfer of weapons to terrorist groups.”

20:00 Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declares war on Gaza in front of Knesset. The Knesset approved the emergency government and added five ministers to the cabinet.

19:20 An Israeli report revealed that the Israeli military was made aware in the late hours of Friday 6 October of some significant signs of a Hamas attack but decided to wait till the morning to process information after concluding it did not warrant panicking.

19:00 The Israeli military said it had dropped 6,000 bombs on Gaza since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. 

18:20 Saleh Al-Arouri, the deputy head of the political bureau of Hamas warned that any Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip will prove catastrophic for the Israeli army.

“For every action the enemy takes, there is a plan we have,” he said

17:45 Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called for "an immediate end to the comprehensive aggression against the Palestinian people. " He also rejected "practices related to killing civilians or abusing them on both sides",

17:00 The cyber unit of the Israeli army took over the Palestinian al-Aqsa channel broadcasting messages calling on Gaza residents to evacuate their homes and get to a protected place, a warning before the expected ground invasion of the strip.

16:30 1,448 Palestinians, including 447 children, have been killed and 6,868 other injured in Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian News Agency (Wafa) announced.

Israel army announced that the Israeli death toll surpassed 1,200 and over 3,000 people have been wounded.

16:00 The Israeli military says 222 army personnel have been killed and their bodies identified so far. Their families have been notified.

15:30 The Israeli army says that it will be conducting further airstrikes against targets in Syria in the coming days. This comes after Israeli strikes knocked Syria's two main airports out of service on Thursday. The "simultaneous" strikes on the Aleppo and Damascus airports "damaged landing strips in the two airports," Syrian state media said, citing a military source.

15:10 Humanitarian aid from Jordan arrived at Egypt's El-Arish Airport, destined for transfer to the Gaza Strip. Earlier, Jordan had announced the dispatch of the first relief aid aircraft to the residents of Gaza, as reported by the "Petra" agency.

A statement from the Jordanian Hashemite Charity Organization clarified that the aircraft carries medical supplies and medications. The plane will proceed to Egypt in coordination with the Egyptian authorities, and then, through the Rafah border crossing, it will reach the Gaza Strip, the statement added. The aid will be handed over to the medical entities operating in Gaza, in accordance with the essential and urgent needs announced by the Palestinian Ministry of Health, to ensure the continuity of treatments and medical assistance under the current conditions in the strip.

15:00 The spokesperson for the Israeli army stated that they had conducted airstrikes on the airports of Damascus and Aleppo in retaliation for the mortar shells fired from Syria. The airstrikes on Syrian airports took place prior to the arrival of the Iranian Foreign Minister to the country.

14:45 The Foreign Office has announced that the UK will organize flights to assist in repatriating British citizens stranded in Israel.

14:35 Egypt has designated North Sinai's El-Arish International Airport for receiving international humanitarian assistance to be delivered to Gaza, calling upon all countries and regional and international organizations willing to offer humanitarian aid to the Palestinians to route their aid to the airport, a statement by Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday.

The Egyptian initiative is in direct response to the ongoing and severe Israeli bombardment on Gaza and aims to alleviate the suffering endured by the Gazans, the ministry said.

El-Arish city, the capital of North Sinai, is located about 50km west of the Rafah border crossing, the only crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.

14:00 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is delivering a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in Tel Aviv while the Israeli war on Gaza persists. Blinken began his address in Israel by saying, "I come before you not just as the United States Secretary of State, but I come before you as a Jew... I come before you as a husband, and as a father of young children..."

13:00 Egypt stated that, in contrast to inaccurate information that does not reflect reality, the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip remains operational and has not been closed at any time since the onset of the current crisis, a statement by the foreign ministry said on Thursday.

Nevertheless, the vital infrastructure on the Palestinian side has suffered damage due to recurrent Israeli airstrikes, disrupting its regular operation, according to the ministry.

Egypt has urged Israel to refrain from targeting the Palestinian side of the crossing to facilitate restoration and rehabilitation efforts, enabling it to serve as a vital conduit to support our Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

12:00 Hospitals in Gaza risk turning into morgues as they lose power, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned Thursday. The Gaza Strip's only power station stopped working on Wednesday due to fuel shortages. It means Gaza - including the hospitals - is relying on generators, which in turn need fresh supplies of fuel. Most of Gaza's electricity supply came from Israel, which cut off power to the area after the Hamas attack.

"The human misery caused by this escalation is abhorrent, and I implore the sides to reduce the suffering of civilians," the ICRC's regional director for the Near and Middle East, Fabrizio Carboni, says.

"As Gaza loses power, hospitals lose power, putting newborns in incubators and elderly patients on oxygen at risk. Kidney dialysis stops, and X-rays can’t be taken," he adds. 

Palestinian children wounded in Israeli strikes are brought to Shifa Hospital in Gaza City on Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023. AP

11:50 The United Nations humanitarian office (OCHA) has reported that the Israeli bombardment of Gaza has leveled 1,000 homes since the retaliation began last Saturday, and many in the territory face dire shortages of water, fuel, and medical supplies, according to AP.

Another 560 housing units, it said, have been severely damaged and rendered uninhabitable. Over 12,600 homes have sustained damage due to Israeli airstrikes.  The agency, OCHA, also reported that all 13 hospitals in Gaza are only partially operational because of severe fuel shortages and crucial medical supplies. It said the reduction in water supplies due to Israel tightening its siege on the strip has resulted in dire water shortages for over 650,000 people in the territory of 2.3 million.

The humanitarian office added that sewage systems had been destroyed, sending fetid wastewater into the streets and posing a health hazard.

11:30 The International Energy Agency said Thursday the risk of oil supply disruptions due to the conflict between Israel and Hamas is limited but that it stands ready to intervene if necessary.

"While the prospect that oil supply flows will be impacted currently remains limited," the IEA said in its regular monthly report, the agency that coordinates releases of emergency stockpiles said that it "stands ready to act if necessary to ensure markets remain adequately supplied."

11:15 Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince and Iran's president spoke by phone about the war between Israel and Hamas, Saudi state media said early Thursday, their first call since a surprise rapprochement in March.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman received a call on Wednesday from the Iranian leader, Ebrahim Raisi, during which they discussed "the current military situation in Gaza and its environs", the official Saudi Press Agency (SPA) said.

Prince Mohammed told Raisi that Riyadh is "communicating with all international and regional parties to stop the ongoing escalation", SPA said. He also stressed "the kingdom's firm position towards supporting the Palestinian cause," it said.

10:50 A senior Egyptian official, speaking to the Associated Press, said, "We firmly oppose the establishment of exit corridors from Gaza for Palestinians seeking to leave the Strip." 

The source further disclosed, "We are currently in discussions with Israel and the United States regarding the creation of secure internal corridors within Gaza for the delivery of humanitarian aid."

10:30 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel, as reported by the BBC. During his brief visit, Blinken is scheduled to hold meetings with both Israeli officials and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

09:45  "Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades fired rockets at Tel Aviv in response to (Israeli strikes) targeting civilians in Al-Shati and Jabalia camps," Hamas said, referring to its armed wing, in a text message sent to journalists.

AFP correspondents witnessed dozens of air strikes over 30 minutes on Thursday morning in the direction of Al-Shati camp and in the blockaded strip's north.



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