Israel ratchets up bombardment near Gaza’s hospitals – Day 23 as it happened

Ahram Online , Sunday 29 Oct 2023

On the 23rd day of its war on Gaza, Israel carried out limited ground incursions into the strip and heavy airstrikes targeting buildings and the vicinity of hospitals. Communications were restored in the strip after a two-day complete blackout. The death toll of Palestinians killed by Israel has now exceeded 8,000.

A picture taken from Israel s southern city of Sderot shows flares launched by Israeli forces above the Gaza Strip on October 29, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement. AFP


00:00 Hamas says its fighters were engaged in "heavy fighting" in Gaza where Israel has escalated ground operations, as calls multiply to deliver aid to the Palestinian territory after weeks of siege and bombardment.

23:00 President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stressed to US President Joe Biden in a phone call Sunday that “Egypt has not and will never allow the displacement of Palestinians from the Gaza Strip to Egyptian territory”.

El-Sisi reiterated Egypt’s firm rejection of policies that collectively punish and displace the Palestinian people.

22:30 Russian law enforcement has "freed" Makhachkala airport in the Dagestan republic from a mob who stormed the building, looking for Israelis travelling from Tel Aviv, Russia's aviation agency said Sunday.

"As of 22.20 (1920 GMT), thanks to the work of law enforcement agencies, the aerodrome has been freed from infiltrating unauthorised citizens," the agency said on Telegram.

22:00 The Israeli army claims it fired at targets in Syrian territory after several missiles were launched from its territory.

21:25 US President Joseph Biden spoke with President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to express his appreciation for Egypt’s leading role in efforts to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the civilian population of Gaza. 

The two leaders committed to the significant acceleration and increase of assistance flowing into Gaza beginning today and then continuously. 

21:00 The Israel army says it struck anti-tank guided missile squad in southern Lebanon and launched a drone attack on a Hezbollah post.

20:45 Russia's aviation agency closed down Dagestan's main airport Sunday, diverting flights, after a mob stormed it looking for Israeli citizens following reports that a plane from Israel was arriving.

"Following the entry of unknown people into the traffic zone of Makhachkala airport, it has been decided to temporarily close the airport to arriving and departing flights," said Rossavitsia, adding that the security forces had arrived there.

20:30 Hamas raises concerns about the potential for another devastating massacre at Al-Quds Hospital by the Israeli occupation forces. It is crucial for the international community to take responsibility for preventing further acts of aggression against innocent civilians.

20:00 Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and French President Emmanuel Macron "stressed the importance of getting urgent humanitarian support" into the Palestinian territory, while UN chief Antonio Guterres said the situation was getting "more desperate by the hour".

19:25 International Criminal Court prosecutor Karim Khan visited the Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt and posted a video on social media, expressing his intention to visit the Gaza Strip and Israel during his stay in the region.

He emphasized the importance of ensuring that relief supplies for civilians are not delayed or obstructed in any way. Khan stated, "There must be no obstacles to the delivery of humanitarian relief to innocent civilians, including children, women, and men."

19:10 The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said Sunday the Israeli military was repeatedly bombing around its hospital in central Gaza, causing damage and putting civilians at risk.

"The Israeli army deliberately continues to launch rockets directly near Al-Quds hospital with the aim of forcing medical staff, displaced individuals and patients to evacuate the hospital," the medical organisation said in a statement.

"This has caused significant damage to hospital departments and exposed residents and patients to suffocation," the statement added.

18:45 The International Committee of the Red Cross expresses profound concern about the evacuation warning issued for Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza.

18:20 Intense clashes break out between the Al-Qassam Brigades and Israeli occupation forces in northwest Gaza.

17:40 The Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza reports that 116 medical personnel have been martyred as a result of Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip over the past three weeks.

17:20 Hezbollah: The resistance has engaged an Israeli infantry unit at the Al-Malikiyah military outpost, resulting in confirmed casualties.

16:25 Israeli bombing is now targeting Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza, as reported by Al Arabiya correspondent. The occupation aircraft also bombed the Muhammad al-Fateh Mosque in Beit Lahia in the northern Gaza Strip, completely destroying it, the Palestinian TV said.

15:45 Israel must do all it can to protect innocent people in Gaza by distinguishing between Hamas fighters and the civilians in the embattled Palestinian territory, the White House warned Sunday.

"There is a burden, as I said before and as the president has said, on Israel to take the necessary steps to distinguish between Hamas and innocent Palestinian civilians," US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on CNN.

Sullivan added that President Joe Biden will call Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later Sunday to reiterate the US position that civilians must be protected.

15:10  Irani Foreign Minister told CNN that "what happened on 7 October was a decision taken by the Palestinians alone".

15:00 Egypt has issued "strong warnings" to Israel regarding potential military operations in the 14-kilometer buffer zone near Gaza, known as the Philadelphia corridor. This area is designated as a buffer zone under the Egypt-Israel peace treaty of 1979. The warning comes in response to concerns about a potential Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

Any such action would be seen as a violation of the international treaty, and Egypt is committed to preventing such violations, Cairo said.

14:57 The Al-Qassam Brigades have confirmed the targeting of two tanks belonging to Israeli "invading forces" in northwestern Gaza, resulting in them catching fire. Additionally, they launched a rocket barrage at the 'Re'im' military base.

14:50 Incessant and intense aerial bombardments are now being carried out by the Israeli occupation around Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Hospital, in Gaza, Palestinian media reported.

14:00 A number of rockets were launched from Lebanon at the Er Rous mountain area, near the borders with Israel, while all the projectiles landed in open areas, the Israeli military said.

It adds that Israeli forces are responding with artillery shelling against the sources of the rocket fire.

Meanwhile, the UNIFIL announced that one of its members was injured in shelling on the Lebanese-Israeli border.

Lebanon's Al-Manar TV channel, citing a Hezbollah statement released on Saturday, reported that the group carried out an artillery attack on Burket Risha and Jardah on Saturday.

The statement said the strike resulted in damage to the targeted sites, and inflicted casualties among Israeli troops.

In another statement, the resistance movement said its precision-guided missiles also struck the Israeli military base in Al-Marj region.

13:14  Egypt is actively engaging in diplomatic efforts with various countries and relevant international and regional stakeholders in order to secure a ceasefire agreement in Gaza and facilitate a prisoner swap, according to high-level sources cited by Al Qahera News TV.

Additionally, Egypt is working towards permitting the entry of "substantial amounts" of humanitarian aid into Gaza, particularly in light of the ongoing military escalation.

On Saturday, Egypt said Israel is to blame for the delayed delivery of humanitarian aid to the embattled Gaza Strip, creating hurdles for convoys and imposing overly strict and slow-paced inspection measures.

“The process of transporting aid to the Gaza Strip faces major logistical problems imposed by the Israeli side,” the spokesperson for the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ahmed Abu Zeid, told journalists.

Israel requires the aid convoys to be inspected first at the Israeli Nitsana crossing -- located opposite the Egyptian El-Ouga crossing -- and then travel nearly 100 km to the Egyptian Rafah crossing before entering Gaza, Abu Zeid explained.

12:40 The Palestinian Health Ministry said that the death toll of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza has now reached 8,005, which includes 3,342 children. Over the past few hours, at least 302 individuals lost their lives in Israeli airstrikes, with the majority of them being displaced individuals, according to the ministry.

Additionally, the ministry has received reports of 1,870 people trapped under the rubble, including 1,020 children. Furthermore, the ministry noted that since the onset of the war, 116 medical workers have tragically lost their lives, and 25 ambulance cars have been destroyed in Gaza.

12:30 The Al-Qassam Brigades launched a rocket barrage at central Israel, prompting sirens in cities, including Tel Aviv. Multiple explosions were reported, and there were reports of rocket fragments falling in the central city of Rishon Letzion, according to Israeli media, citing police reports.

Al-Qassam and Al-Quds Brigades also announced targeting Israeli military groups northwest of the Gaza Strip. Al-Qassam stated in a statement that it had targeted with a drone a gathering of Israeli vehicles penetrating the area known as the American zone northwest of Beit Lahia.

Meanwhile, the Al-Quds Brigades said that it bombed Israeli vehicles northwest of the Gaza Strip with rockets and mortar shells.

An Israeli officer and a soldier were wounded in armed clashes with Hamas fighters in northern Gaza overnight, the Israeli military said earlier.

Israeli troops near the border with Gaza.

12:00 A spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Education has confirmed that during the 23-day Israeli war on Gaza, 2,000 students and over 70 members of the educational staff were killed. Additionally, 200 schools were damaged during this period.

11:45 Israeli artillery fires incendiary shells at the vicinity of the town of Kfar Shuba south Lebanon, according to media reports.

11:35 After much criticism, including from members of his war cabinet, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized for blaming Israeli security and military heads for Hamas’ 7 October operation,

"I made a mistake. The things I said following the press conference shouldn't have been said and I apologize for it.", Netanyahu said.

Late on Saturday, Netanyahu wrote a post on X (formerly Twitter), insisting that he never received any warnings of Hamas “war intentions” at any stage, adding “all the security services, including the head of military intelligence and the head of the Shin Bet, were of the opinion that Hamas was deterred and wanted to come to a settlement.”

11:30 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned on Sunday the situation in Gaza is declining rapidly as he repeated desperate appeals for a ceasefire to end the "nightmare" of bloodshed.

"The situation in Gaza is growing more desperate by the hour. I regret that instead of a critically needed humanitarian pause, supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations," Guterres said on a visit to Nepal's capital Kathmandu.

11:20 The Palestinian television reported casualties, including both fatalities and injuries, following an Israeli attack on a bus carrying civilians in southern Gaza.

11:15 The Palestinian Red Crescent has received threats from Israel of an imminent evacuation of Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Hospital in anticipation of an airstrike. 

11:10 A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health in Gaza told Al Jazeera, that "the health institutions have lost vital supplies, including medicines, equipment, and fuel".

"The occupation allows the entry of items we do not need while preventing essential supplies from coming through the Rafah crossing," he added.

In a statement posted on Facebook, the organization reported that the area surrounding the hospital faced continuous airstrikes since the early morning, resulting in the destruction of some buildings within approximately 50 meters of the hospital.

Moreover, residents living near Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest medical facility, have reported Israeli airstrikes near the hospital complex and the closure of numerous access roads.

Israel previously bombed Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital on October 17th, killing hundreds of people.

11:06 Hamas says in a statement on Telegram that Israel "is pretending not to be interested in the prisoners, but ultimately, it will need to address the issue and comply with the resistance's terms." 

Israel says that at least 230 captives are being held in the Gaza Strip.

10:35 The Israeli occupation army raised the number of troops fighting inside the Gaza Strip, a spokesman said Sunday, as the military stepped up its war on the Palestinian territory.

Meanwhile, U.S. officials told the New York Times that the scope of Israel's incursions into Gaza indicates that the Israelis took the American advice into account and limited their original operational plans.

9:58 Al-Qassam Brigades say they confronted an Israeli incursion northwest of Beit Lahia in Gaza.

9:50 The United Nations warned Sunday that "civil order" was starting to collapse in Gaza after thousands of people ransacked its food warehouses.

The UN relief agency for the Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said wheat, flour and other basic supplies had been pillaged at several warehouses.

"This is a worrying sign that civil order is starting to break down after three weeks of war and a tight siege," said Thomas White, Gaza's UNRWA chief.

9:38 Israeli ex-Chief of Staff Benny Gantz posted on Sunday on X (formerly Twitter) calling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to retract his statement last night against the security agencies, and stop dealing with the issue.

He added that "when we are at war, leadership must show responsibility, decide to do the right things and strengthen the forces in a way that they can to realize what we demand from them. Any other action or statement - harms the people's ability to stand and their strength."
On Saturday night Netanyahu claimed he did not receive a warning about Hamas' intentions to start a war against Israel, and blamed the security agencies – particularly naming the military intelligence chief and Shin Bet chief - for the failure that led to the attack.

9:20  Kuwait's embassy in Beirut advised its citizens to leave the Lebanese territory, the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) said on Sunday.

The embassy called on the nationals currently in Lebanon to contact the embassy and provide them with their information and also try to return if it is viable for them to do so.

9:10 Israeli forces killed five Palestinians across the occupied West Bank on Sunday, the Palestinian health ministry said, as violence surges across the territory in parallel with the ongoing war in Gaza.

Israel killed more than 110 Palestinians in the West Bank since the war on Gaza erupted on 7 October.

The health ministry said three people aged 29 to 31 were shot dead by Israeli forces at dawn, with Israeli attacks taking place in Beit Rima, northwest of Ramallah, in Nablus's Askar refugee camp and in Tubas, a town further north.

On Saturday, a 40-year-old Palestinian who was harvesting his olives was killed by a terrorist Israeli settler in the village of Sawiya near Nablus.

Meanwhile, Israeli settlers, backed by army and police forces, expelled the 200 residents of the Bedouin village of Wadi Al-Seeq in the occupied West Bank, forcing them to flee on foot with their sheep and goats.

On October 12, five days after the start of the Israeli war on Gaza, residents say dozens of Israeli terrorists turned up at the village and gave them an hour to leave their land, among them settlers, soldiers and police.

Residents said some were local settlers dressed in army uniforms who have regularly harassed the village, while others wore civilian clothing, with army and police vehicles also at the scene.

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