Humanitarian crisis deepens in Gaza as Israel weighs ground invasion - Day 9 as it happened

Ahram Online , Monday 16 Oct 2023

The Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip has now reached its 9th day, and the situation is growing increasingly dire for the 2.3 million civilians residing in Gaza. They are confronted with escalating challenges in securing essential necessities such as food, water, and safety, all while preparing for the imminent threat of an Israeli ground invasion.

A ball of fire and smoke rise above buildings during an Israeli strike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on October 15, 2023. AFP


01:15 The Palestinian Red Crescent says that five airstrikes were carried out near al-Quds Hospital, in fresh attacks by the Israeli forces on Gaza. Israel had given the hospital a deadline of Saturday afternoon to evacuate, which the Red Crescent refused, saying the order was impossible.

01:00 Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas said Sunday that the policies and actions of Hamas "do not represent the Palestinian people", the news agency Wafa reported.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisations (PLO) was the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, he added, during talks with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Wafa added.

00:00 An Israeli drone fired two missiles late Sunday evening at a hill west of the town of Kfar Kila in south Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency reported. There were no casualties reported in the strikes, which hit near a Lebanese army center.

22:40 The Israeli army says it has killed Muataz Eid a senior Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip. Israel hit 250 targets throughout the Gaza Strip on Sunday. 

The army also announced it is conducting air raids on Hezbollah posts in South Lebanon.

22:00 Netanyahu invites Biden to visit Israel, and the White House views the matter positively, according to Israeli media

22:00 Hamas fired rockets toward central and southern Israel as sirens sound in in the Gaza border communities as well as Ashkelon, Ashdod, Rehovot and Ramle.

Loud explosions are heard as Iron Dome intercepts many of the rockets.

21:45 Palestinian death toll rises to 2,726 and more than 10,800 other wounded, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.

21:25 Upon leaving Cairo, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken expressed confidence that "Rafah crossing border will reopen."

He also mentioned that the US, the UN, Egypt, Israel, and other parties are collaborating on a mechanism to deliver assistance to those in need.

This came following his meeting with Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi who stressed that Israel has turned its response to Hamas's attack into collective punishment against more than 2 million Palestinians.

21:10 A rocket hit the headquarters of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon in the coastal town of Naqoura as clashes between the militant Hezbollah group and its allies and the Israeli military escalated.

The U.N. mission said no one was hurt even though the peacekeepers were not in shelters. It did not specify where the rocket came from but expressed disappointment saying that despite the mission's efforts to get the sides "to de-escalate the situation,” the violence continues.

20:30 UN’s interim force in Lebanon said: “Today we are observing intense exchanges of fire in several areas along the Blue Line between Lebanese territory and Israel. There have been impacts on both sides of the Blue Line. Our headquarters in Naqoura was hit by a rocket, and we are working to verify from where. Our peacekeepers were not in shelters at the time. Fortunately, no one was hurt… We remind all the parties involved that attacks against civilians or UN personnel are violations of international law that may amount to war crimes.”

20:00 2,670 Palestinians have been killed and over 10,000 injured by Israeli strikes on Gaza and the West Bank, the Palestinian Health Ministry announced.


19:30 Israel resumed the water supply to southern Gaza, Energy Minister Israel Katz said Sunday, as one million people have evacuated the north of the Strip to escape a massive air assault.

"This will push the civilian population to the southern (part of the) Strip," Katz said in a statement, a week after Israel had stopped supplying water to the entire territory as part of a "complete siege" on the Palestinian enclave.

17:20 President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi stated on Sunday that the current Israeli response has escalated into collective punishment against Palestinians in Gaza.

During his meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Cairo, El-Sisi emphasized that the ongoing crisis may have far-reaching implications for the Middle East region and that Egypt is actively working to de-escalate the situation.

In response, Blinken urged El-Sisi to collaborate to prevent further escalation in the current crisis between Israel and the Palestinians.

16:30 White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in an interview with CBS that Israeli officials have informed him that water pipes in southern Gaza have been turned back on. Sullivan said that his country is focused on ensuring that its citizens can safely pass from Gaza to Egypt pointing out that all parties must respect the security of civilians in the region. The US t is focusing on evacuating people from Gaza to other areas "not in the north or south of Gaza", he added.

15:30 King Abdullah II of Jordan has issued a directive to secure the continued operation of the Jordanian field hospital in the Gaza Strip, as announced by Jordan's National Center for Security and Crises Management on Sunday.

Local media reports suggest that the hospital's operations are at risk of cessation due to a shortage of medical supplies, compounded by Israel's sustained bombardment of the Gaza Strip.

15:15 Israel's actions in Gaza have gone "beyond the scope of self-defense" and the Israeli government must "cease its collective punishment of the people of Gaza", China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in remarks published Sunday.

15:00 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Cairo on Sunday, with plans to head back to Israel on Monday for a second visit in less than a week. This follows a tour of six Arab nations to address the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

According to the US Department of State spokesperson, Matthew Miller, who spoke to reporters upon Blinken's arrival in Cairo, "The Secretary of State will be returning to Israel on Monday for further discussions with Israeli leaders."

14:36 Iran warned Sunday that "no one can guarantee" control of the situation if Israel invades Gaza, ahead of an expected ground offensive by Israeli forces.

"If the attacks of the Zionist regime (Israel) against the defenseless citizens and people of Gaza continue, no one can guarantee the control of the situation and the non-expansion of the conflicts," Iran's foreign ministry quoted Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying during his meeting with Qatar's Emir, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Outside al-Aqsa hospital in Deir el-Balah, central Gaza Strip, a Palestinian woman kisses the sheet-covered body of a child killed during an Israeli airstrike, Sunday, Oct. 15, 2023.

14:30 The Israeli military said Sunday it had confirmed 126 people held as captives by Hamas since the Palestinian militant group staged their deadly attack eight days earlier.

Authorities had initially estimated about 150 Israeli and foreign captives after Hamas launched its October 7 attack that killed at least 1,300 in Israel.

14:10 Egypt has extended an invitation to host an international regional summit to address the developments and future of the Palestinian Cause, as announced by the Egyptian National Security Council following a meeting on Sunday. President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi chaired the meeting to review regional developments, particularly those concerning the military escalation in the Gaza Strip.

The council also reiterated Egypt's emphasis on the fact that there is no solution to the Palestinian Cause except the two-state solution while rejecting and condemning any policy of Palestinian displacement or attempts to liquidate the Palestinian Cause at the expense of neighboring countries.

14:00 The Israeli army is waiting for a "political decision" regarding the timing of a significant ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, stated military spokesmen on Sunday. Lieutenant Richard Hecht, and Daniel Hagari, emphasized in separate briefings that any action against Hamas would be triggered by "a political decision."

Hecht explained, "We will be holding discussions with our political leadership."

13: 45 The Israeli military announced that an airstrike in southern Gaza had killed Hamas commander Bilal al Kedra, whom they believe was responsible for 'the mass killings of Israelis' at Kibbutz Nirim and Nir Oz last weekend. The announcement comes one day after the killing of another Hamas commander, Ali Qadi, who was struck down in an Israeli drone attack on Saturday.

13:40 Biden confirms in a conversation with Abu Mazen: working with the Qataris to release kidnapped citizens, N12News reports.

13: 20 The majority of Sderot's 30,000 residents left after a week of continuous bombing according to Israeli media. 

13:00 Israeli forces have detained 330 Palestinians in the West Bank since the Gaza conflict commenced on October 7, as stated by the Israeli army. Meanwhile, The Palestinian health ministry reports that at least 55 West Bank Palestinians have lost their lives due to actions by Israeli forces since the Gaza war began.

12: 40 The Saudi Crown, Mohammed Bin Salman, told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the kingdom refuses the targeting of civilians and disruption of infrastructure in Gaza. He added that international humanitarian law must be respected, including lifting the Israeli siege on Gaza. He also expressed the need for a halt in military operations in Gaza, which has resulted in the deaths of innocent people. Saudi Arabia seeks to intensify communication and work to calm the situation and stop the escalation in Gaza,  Bin Salman stressed, adding that 'the path of peace must be restored' to ensure that the Palestinian people obtain their rights

12:00 "The World Food Programme (WFP) is running out of reserve stock inside Gaza and is so far unable to get more food into the enclave," Corinne Fleischer, a regional director with the United Nations humanitarian organization, told CNN.

Fleischer added that the WFP currently possesses enough supplies to feed 1.3 million people for two weeks, which are stockpiled at the border, ready for delivery. However, the group has yet to receive the necessary authorization to enter Gaza safely. She stated, "We're talking to all parties to be able to move in. Unfortunately, we have not received that okay yet. We need to be able to cross the border; we need to have safe supply corridors to go to the shelters to distribute the food."

As the situation becomes increasingly urgent, she added, "(We) are running out of time ... people are really getting hungry."

The WFP has already provided canned food, bread, and cash to 520,000 people in Gaza. Despite the challenges, the organization is expected to reach an additional 224,000 people on Sunday, Fleischer said.

11:30 Hezbollah said that the missile strike on Israel was a retaliatory action following the deaths of a journalist and two civilians in the recent Israeli bombardment of southern Lebanon. On Saturday, Israeli shelling in the southern village of Shebaa resulted in the loss of two Lebanese civilians. The previous day, a stray Israeli shell hit a group of international journalists covering border clashes in southern Lebanon, killing Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah and causing injuries to six other journalists.

11:10 "We will act anywhere in the Middle East to realize the interests of the State of Israel", Israeli army spokesperson, Daniel Hagari, said in a statement to the media.

Another spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, told CNN that Israel will initiate "substantial military operations" in Gaza once they confirm the departure of civilians. He also added that the 150-200 Israelis captured by Hamas are most probably being held underground in various locations.

11:00 The Israeli army has declared the closure of all regions within 4 kilometers of the Lebanese border, imposing restrictions on movement in that area. This comes in response to an attack on an Israeli border military site after the bombing of Shtoula.

10:45 the US embassy in Israel announced its provision of a sea evacuation option for American citizens and their immediate relatives within the country. Those meeting the criteria will depart from the northern Israeli port city of Haifa and head to Cyprus on Monday.

10:30 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh. On Sunday, Blinken and the crown prince engaged in discussions for just under an hour at his private farm outside the capital, according to U.S. officials. When asked about the meeting's outcome, Blinken stated that it was "very productive," though no immediate details were provided. The meeting, originally anticipated for late Saturday night but delayed, was conducted without media presence.

This meeting with Crown Prince Mohammed marks the sixth in-person interaction between Blinken and an Arab leader since his arrival in the Middle East on Thursday. His journey commenced in Israel, where he reaffirmed the Biden administration's commitment to stand with and support Israel. Subsequently, Blinken has toured the region, meeting with the leaders of Jordan, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. He has plans to visit Egypt later on Sunday.

10:15 Israel struck southern Lebanon in response to fire toward the Israeli border settlement of Shtula. One Israeli was dead and three others were wounded in the strike on Shtula, according to Israeli medics. While some reports talk about 5 Israelis wounded in the attack. The Israeli military said the fire from Lebanon at Shtula was an anti-tank guided missile (ATGM).

10:00 British citizens in Gaza have received instructions to remain prepared for potential openings of the Rafah border crossing into Egypt, the BBC reported. This development follows the departure of a third UK government charter flight from Israel. The BBC added that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is scheduled to host a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan on Sunday to engage in discussions about the ongoing conflict.

Rubble litters a street between smoldering buildings hit by an Israeli airstrike in Jabaliya, Gaza Strip

9:45 The Israeli army demands that civilians currently situated in northern Gaza relocate south between 10:00 and 13:00. The Israeli army defined a single route stretching from Beit Hanoun to Khan Yunis, claiming that it will ensure the safety of this path during the specified hours.

9:30 China's special envoy on the Middle East issue, Zhai Jun, will visit the region next week and make positive efforts to cool down the situation and promote peace talks between Palestine and Israel.
Zhai confirmed his visit in an interview with the Chinese CGTN Channel on Sunday. 
He noted in the interview that the root cause of the Palestine-Israel conflict is the failure to arrive at a "two-state solution" that would realize the long-cherished statehood aspirations of the Palestinians.

9:00 Israeli air strikes on Gaza continue. 

Search Keywords:
Short link: