Israel tanks raid Gaza as UN fails to halt the war - Day 20 as it happened

Ahram Online , Thursday 26 Oct 2023

Israel's 20-day bombing campaign in Gaza has caused 6,500 Palestinian casualties, including children, and displaced over half of Gaza's population. Israel's preparations for a ground invasion are underway, while regional leaders criticize the West for its perceived double standards in supporting Israel's war crimes.

Gaza Strip
A picture taken from the southern Israeli city of Sderot on October 26, 2023, shows black smoke billowing over the northern Gaza Strip. AFP


23:30 The Pentagon said that there was an attempted attack at Irbil air base in Iraq but there were no casualties and only minor damage to the facilities.

Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, Pentagon press secretary, declined to detail which Iranian-backed groups may be responsible for the recent spate of attacks at bases in Iraq and Syria.

He said there have been at least 12 attacks in Iraq and four in Syria, and that 21 U.S. personnel received minor injuries in two separate attacks early last week. Of those, 19 people had some type of traumatic brain injury, and all 21 returned to duty.

22:40 EU leaders on Thursday called for "humanitarian corridors and pauses" to get aid into Gaza, after hours of negotiations at a summit of the bloc in Brussels.

"The European Council expresses its gravest concern for the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza and calls for continued, rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access and aid to reach those in need through all necessary measures including humanitarian corridors and pauses for humanitarian needs," a statement said.

21:40 The European Central Bank (ECB) is "very attentive" to economic risks posed by "the conflict between Israel and Hamas", ECB President Christine Lagarde said Thursday.

Referring to the crisis in the Middle East as well as the war in Ukraine, she said: "We are monitoring the situation, we are very attentive to the economic consequences that could have, whether in terms of direct or indirect impact on energy prices, or the level of confidence that economic actors will continue to display."

21:35 Israel army spokesman Daniel Hagari says the army will continue limited ground raids in the Gaza Strip after last night infantry forces and tanks operated for a number of hours over the border fence to attack Hamas positions and members.

Hagari says raids will be carried out “tonight as well, and it will continue all the more forcefully in the coming days.”

21:20 In response to scepticism from American President Joe Biden about the number of Palestinian causalities from the Israeli war on Gaza, the Ministry of Health in Gaza published an exhaustive 212-page document that includes the names, ID numbers, gender, and ages of 7,028 Palestinians who have been killed by Israeli airstrikes since 7 October.

The report also features a dedicated section listing the names of children. The spokesperson for the Ministry of Health in Gaza stated, “We would not have revealed the names of the martyrs if it weren't for the doubts raised by Washington and Tel Aviv.”

21:00 UN Permanent Observer of the State of Palestine Riyadh Mansour urged the UN General Assembly Thursday to act against the indiscriminate Israeli killing of Palestinians "under the bombs" in Gaza and to allow humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory.

“We are meeting here while Palestinians in Gaza are under the bombs,” the Palestinian Ambassador to the UN exclaimed.

Citing circumstances on the ground, Mansour stressed that humanitarian aid was badly needed and that hospitals were operating without anaesthetics.

20:40 Egyptian General Intelligence Service Chief Abbas Kamel held a conversation on Thursday with Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of the Hamas Political Bureau, to discuss the latest developments in Gaza amid ongoing Israeli attacks, as announced by the Palestinian movement on Thursday afternoon.

According to a statement issued by Hamas on its Telegram channel in Arabic, Kamel and Haniyeh discussed the latest developments related to Gaza.  The movement said Kamel reviewed Egypt's efforts to ensure a ceasefire in Gaza and the urgent delivery of necessities to the Palestinian people, adding that Haniyeh expressed his appreciation for Egypt's stance, both the government and the people.

19:00 Representatives of Hamas and Iran are in Moscow Thursday for talks, Russia's foreign ministry said.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri Kani was in Moscow and confirmed reports that a Hamas delegation was in the Russian capital.

17:15 In a joint statement issued on Thursday, Egypt and eight other Arab countries expressed strong condemnation and rejection of the targeting of civilians and the violation of international law amidst the ongoing escalation in Gaza. The statement was released by the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, the UAE, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, and Morocco.

The Arab ministers underscored that the right to self-defense, as enshrined in the UN Charter, should not serve as a pretext for "blatant" violations of international law and international humanitarian law, or the deliberate disregard of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people in their pursuit of an independent state.

15:05 Hamas called on Arab and Muslim nations to participate in a movement on Friday and Sunday, advocating for "the opening of the Rafah crossing" to facilitate humanitarian aid and to call for "an end to Israeli genocide in Gaza".

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), on October 14, 2023, accused Israel of committing mass ethnic cleansing of Palestinians and, on October 20, of posing a risk of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza.

This accusation has garnered support from various international leaders, including Lula the President of Brazil, whose country currently presides over the Security Council.

14:55 Gaza Health Ministry Spokesperson says that the death toll from the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip has reached 7,028, including 2,913 children and 1,709 women.

14:35 A 17-year-old boy, Asid Hamdi Hamidat, has been killed by Israeli gunfire in the Jalazone camp north of Ramallah, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. His death raises the total number of Palestinians killed by Israel in the West Bank since the beginning of this year to 313, including 105 since 7 October"

14:10 Muslim civil rights groups say they’ve seen large increases in reports of harassment, bias and sometimes physical assaults against members of their communities since the war in Gaza.

A spokesperson for the Council on American-Islamic Relations said that the organization’s chapters and national office had received 774 reports of bias-related acts between 7 and 24 October. The council’s leaders believe it’s the largest wave of complaints since December 2015, when then-presidential candidate Donald Trump declared his intent to ban Muslim immigration to the U.S.

The reported acts since  include an Illinois landlord fatally stabbing a 6-year-old Muslim boy and wounding the boy’s mother, police say, as well as the arrest of a Michigan man after police say he asked people in a social media post to join him in hunting Palestinians.

13:40 According to Al Arabiya correspondent, Israel targeted the village of Aita al-Shaab in southern Lebanon with a phosphorus missile.

Lebanese state media say Israel conducted airstrikes and drone attacks early Thursday in southern Lebanon, near the tense Israel-Lebanon border where exchanges between Israeli forces and Lebanese Hezbollah militants have intensified amid the war in Gaza.

Strikes ignited fires in the fields near in the border town of Aita al Shaab, the National News Agency reported.

On Wednesday night, Israeli strikes hit the Tyre district and a mattress factory there, NNA said, while small-arms fire was exchanged between militants and Israeli troops along the border.

Hezbollah announced that Israel's attacks have kille two of its members in southern Lebanon, bringing the total casualties to 46.

13:00 Intensive preparations are currently being made to deliver the sixth aid convoy into the Gaza Strip through the Rafah Border Crossing, the only entry point not controlled by Israel, reported AlQahera New Channel on Thursday.

The channel added that the fifth aid convoy, which entered the strip late on Wednesday, is now being offloaded on the Palestinian side.

12:45 Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said that restoring Israeli security after the Gaza attack will take years.
“Tough times are expected for us,” Gantz told reporters in Tel Aviv.

He also said that Israel will ultimately make its own decisions regarding war plans, in light of several reports saying Israel has bowed to American pressure to delay its Gaza ground invasion.

12:08 US Republican Florida governor Ron DeSantis is taking the extraordinary step of ordering state universities to ban a pro-Palestinian student organization from campuses, saying it illegally backs Hamas.

DeSantis, who is running for president, has ramped up his pro-Israel stance since the Oct. 7 Hamas attacks in southern Israel, which led to pro- and anti-Israel demonstrations around the world and prompted Israel to respond with airstrikes. The governor has sent planes to Israel to provide supplies and return Floridians there who want to come back.

Students for Justice in Palestine has been on U.S. campuses for decades, with frequent protests calling for the liberation of Palestinians and boycotts against Israel. The network says it has more than 200 chapters across the United States.

Palestine Legal, a group that provides legal support for pro-Palestinian groups, said the ban on SJP is part of a broader effort by DeSantis to suppress freedom of speech on campuses.

Under DeSantis, Florida has limited how race can be discussed in schools, prohibited state universities from spending money on diversity, equality and inclusion programs and taken other actions that critics say limit free speech on campus.

12:00 Brazil's Lula says war in the Middle East is genocide.

It’s not a war, it’s a genocide that has killed nearly 2 thousand children who have nothing to do with this war, they are victims of this war. And frankly, I don’t know how a human being is capable of war knowing that the result of that war is the death of innocent children,” he declared.
11:50 Turkey's Erdogan told Pope Francis in a phone call that Israeli attacks on Gaza amount to massacre and the silence of international community "embarrassing" and "is shame for humanity."
Erdogan was also quoted as telling Francis during their telephone conversation that everyone should support efforts to deliver “uninterrupted aid to innocent civilians” in Gaza. 
On Wednesday, he defended Hamas as "liberators" and condemned the West for not stopping Israel's assault on Gaza. 

He said "Western powers shed tears for Israel and do nothing else," as hecancelled plans to go to Israel. 

Erdogan condemned Israel, affirming “you will not find any other state whose army behaves with such inhumanity.” 

11:45 The Israeli occupation army reports 309 soldiers killed since the start of the war on Gaza. Israel also said that the confirmed number of people detained in Gaza is 224.
11:30 17 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli raid behind Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, south of Gaza, media reports said.

10:45 Heavy Israeli bombardment targeted the vicinity of Nasser Hospital in Khan Yunis, south of Gaza, according to Al Arabiya.

10:40 EU leaders will on Thursday debate calling for a “humanitarian pause” in Israel’s war on Gaza. The European Union has struggled for both unity and influence in the face of the crisis that has engulfed the Middle East. 

EU’s 27 leaders fight over words, whether to call to implement a “humanitarian pause”, “humanitarian pauses”, or “humanitarian windows” in the fighting, in a statement to be issued after the summit. 

The bloc has long been split between more pro-Palestinian members such as Ireland and Spain, and strongest supporter of Israel including Germany and Austria. 

Much depends on Germany, the EU’s most powerful member state. Wednesday evening Berlin was still pushing for “windows”.

10:36 Lynn Hastings the UN's humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinians responded in a statement to Israel telling people in Gaza City to leave, emphazising that "or people who can’t evacuate – because they have nowhere to go or are unable to move – advance warnings make no difference."

"When the evacuation routes are bombed when people north as well as south are caught up in hostilities, when the essentials for survival are lacking, and when there are no assurances for return, people are left with nothing but impossible choices," she said, according to BBC, "nowhere is safe in Gaza."

She added that armed conflict should be governed by international law.

Amnesty International has earlier said that Israeli army threats ordering residents of northern Gaza to leave may amount to war crimes. ​

10:00 A Red Cross mission to assess the state of Gaza’s hospitals has described scenes of ‘utter chaos’  and exhaustion in the face of a total blockade, a critical fuel shortage and relentless Israeli bombing.

Experts from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) focused their visit on Tuesday on two of the main medical centres in Gaza, al-Quds and al-Shifa hospitals.

The Red Cross said it hopes to bring in more than half a dozen trucks filled with vital medical supplies.

“This is a small amount of what is required, a drop in the ocean if you will, given the severity of the consequences of the violence in the last two and a half weeks,” said William Schomburg, head of the sub-delegation in Gaza.

“Today, we are looking at eight to ten trucks coming in. We have more lined up,” he says. “We are trying to establish a pipeline.”

9:30 UNRWA, the UN relief and works agency for Palestinian people, has said that it expects its fuel supply to run out Thursday. The agency has been sharing its supplies in order to allow trucks to distribute aid, bakeries to feed people in shelters, water to be desalinated, and so that hospitals can keep incubators, life support machines and other vital equipment running.

The dwindling supply of fuel has left the agency grappling with the question of how best to use what is left, UNRWA spokeswoman Tamara Alrifai told The Associated Press.

“Do we give for the incubators or the bakeries?” she said. “It is an excruciating decision.

9:25 The Palestinian foreign minister, Riyad al-Maliki, said "a humanitarian truce alone is unacceptable", as he met senior international criminal court (ICC) officials in The Hague. Maliki’s visit came a day after he deplored inaction by the UN security council to stop Israel breach of humatinarian and international laws and its crimes against the Palestinians.

He said that Israel's war in Gaza is a "war of revenge", as he called for a ceasefire in the conflict.

"This time the war that Israel is waging is different. This time... it's a war of revenge," al-Maliki said. "First we need to end this one-sided aggression and then we need to call for a ceasefire."

9:15 Amid fears of wider conflict in the region, 5 missiles targeted an American base and its surroundings in the Hasakah countryside, northeastern Syria, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Meanwhile, Iraqi armed factions, announced that it launched a drone attack targeting American forces at Ain al-Assad, western Iraq.

The past week has seen a spate of more than a dozen attacks on U.S. military facilities in Iraq in Syria, most of them claimed by The Islamic Resistance group in Iraq, which has said it is retaliating against America’s backing of Israel in its war on Gaza.

9:05 As the death toll mounts in Gaza, Palestinians are burying the unidentified dead in mass graves, with a number instead of a name. Some families are using bracelets or wrting names on arms and legs in the hope of finding their loved ones should they be killed.

9:00 Israeli occupation army said it "conducted a targeted raid using tanks in the northern Gaza Strip, as part of preparations for the next stages of combat," the army said.

"The soldiers exited the area at the end of the activity."

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