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- Saudi Arabia to hold Arab-Islamic summits to discuss conflict
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GAZA/JERUSALEM, Nov 8 (Reuters) – Israeli ground forces in the Gaza Strip aimed on Wednesday to locate and disable Hamas militants’ vast network of tunnels beneath the enclave, the next phase of an Israeli offensive which killed thousands of Palestinians.
Since Hamas gunmen killed 1,400 people and took some 240 hostages in a cross-border raid on October 7, Israel has pounded Gaza from the air and used ground troops to divide the coastal enclave in two.
Gaza City, the main Hamas stronghold in the territory, is surrounded. Israel says its troops advanced into the heart of the densely populated city while Hamas says its fighters inflicted heavy losses on invading forces.
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel had “a single target: the Hamas terrorists in Gaza, their infrastructure, their commanders, their bunkers and their communications rooms.”
The Israeli army’s chief military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said the Israeli Combat Engineer Corps used explosive devices to destroy a network of tunnels built by Hamas that spans hundreds of kilometers under Gaza.
Israeli tanks faced heavy resistance from Hamas fighters who used the network of tunnels to launch ambushes, sources from Hamas and the separate militant group Islamic Jihad said.
It was not possible to verify the claims of both sides on the battlefield.
ISRAEL SEEKS “INDETERMINATE PERIOD” OF CONTROL
Israelis have expressed concern that the military operations could further endanger the hostages, who are believed to be held in the tunnels. Israel says it will not agree to a ceasefire until the hostages are freed. Hamas says it will not stop fighting as long as Gaza is under attack.
“I challenge (Israel) whether it has been capable, so far, of registering any military success on the ground other than the killing of civilians,” Ghazi Hamad, a senior Hamas official, told Al television. Jazeera.
“Gaza is unbreakable and will remain a thorn in the throat of Americans and Zionists,” Hamad said.
Since October 7, Israeli bombings have killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, about 40 percent of them children, according to counts by health officials in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Washington has supported Israel’s position that a ceasefire would help Hamas militarily. But US President Joe Biden said on Tuesday he had urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take a pause in the fighting.
Israel has so far remained vague about its long-term plans if it achieves its stated goal of defeating Hamas. In some of the first direct comments on the subject, Netanyahu said Israel would seek to take responsibility for Gaza’s security “for an indefinite period” after the war.
But officials said Israel was not interested in governing the enclave. Gallant, the Israeli defense minister, said that once the war was over, neither Israel nor Hamas would rule Gaza.
Saudi Arabia convenes summits
Saudi Arabia will host summits of Arab and Islamic nations in the coming days to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the kingdom’s investment minister said Wednesday.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi will travel to Saudi Arabia on Sunday for the Organization of Islamic Cooperation summit, the Etemadonline newspaper reported, the first visit by an Iranian head of state since Tehran and Riyadh ended years of hostility under a deal negotiated by China in March.
“The objective of bringing together these…summits and other gatherings under the leadership of Saudi Arabia would be to contribute to a peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Saudi Investment Minister Khalid Al-Falih told Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore.
“NO FOOD, NO WATER”
Hamas’ military wing said Tuesday evening it had fired missiles at Tel Aviv, and rocket sirens rang out in the Israeli city and other towns in central Israel.
Israelis in Tel Aviv marked the first month of the Hamas attack with a candlelight vigil featuring photographs of the hostages in Habima Square. Some cried, others sang or prayed.
“I came to look at the faces of the hostages, to be part of them. (…) I want to be alongside the families whose loved ones are” in Gaza, declared Valeria Nesterov, 24, a makeup artist. .
Nearly two-thirds of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are internally displaced, according to UN figures, and thousands are seeking refuge in hospitals, including makeshift canvas shelters set up in their parking lots. .
At Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Um Haitham Hejela, a refugee woman with young children in a makeshift fabric tent, said they had fled their home because of the airstrikes.
“The situation is getting worse every day,” she said. “There is no food, no water. When my son goes to get water, he queues for three or four hours. They hit the bakeries, we have no bread.”
International organizations and Western countries have made urgent attempts to deliver aid to the Gaza Strip and get foreign nationals out.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said a humanitarian convoy came under fire in Gaza City on Tuesday.
After being rerouted, the convoy delivered medical supplies to Al Shifa Hospital. Describing the incident as “deeply disturbing”, the organization said two trucks were damaged and a driver was lightly injured. The origin of the shots has not been identified.
Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Maytaal Angel, Emily Rose and Maayan Lubell in Jerusalem and Rami Amichay in Tel Aviv; written by Rami Ayyub and Michael Perry; Editing by Cynthia Osterman and Simon Cameron-Moore
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Senior correspondent with nearly 25 years of experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including several wars and the signing of the first historic peace agreement between the two sides.
Nominated journalist who covers high-impact events in the agricultural commodities and general agricultural commodities sectors, analyzing industry trends and uncovering developments that drive the market. Work has included investigative reporting on market developments on commodity trade flows, business strategy, farmer poverty, sustainability, climate change and government policy.