Israeli strikes kill nearly 50 hostages, says Hamas; UN warns 'nowhere is safe' in Gaza
Families and supporters of hostages that are being held in Gaza attend a protest calling for their immediate release in Tel Aviv. /Tomer Appelbaum/Reuters
Families and supporters of hostages that are being held in Gaza attend a protest calling for their immediate release in Tel Aviv. /Tomer Appelbaum/Reuters

Families and supporters of hostages that are being held in Gaza attend a protest calling for their immediate release in Tel Aviv. /Tomer Appelbaum/Reuters

Hamas said Thursday Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed almost 50 of the hostages its fighters seized in bloody cross-border attacks, as the United Nations warned "nowhere is safe" in the territory. 

The group's armed wing made the claim, which could not immediately be independently verified, after Israel sent tanks, troops and armoured bulldozers into the enclave in a "targeted raid" overnight that the military said destroyed multiple sites before withdrawing. "Al-Qassam Brigades estimates that the number of Zionist prisoners who were killed in the Gaza Strip as a result of Zionist strikes and massacres has reached almost 50," the group said in a statement on its Telegram channel. 

Hamas's shock October 7 attacks, the worst in Israeli history, saw throngs of Hamas gunmen pour from Gaza into Israel, killing more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 224 more, according to official tallies. Israel has retaliated with relentless strikes that Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said have killed more than 7,000 people, also mainly civilians – a toll expected to rise substantially if Israeli troops massed near the border thrust across.

On the 20th day of Israel's bloodiest Gaza war yet, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Lynne Hastings, said that despite the Israeli military issuing warnings to people in Gaza City to leave, "advance warnings make no difference." She said in a statement that when evacuation routes are bombed, "people are left with nothing but impossible choices. Nowhere is safe in Gaza."


EXPLAINER: What happens when the fuel runs out in Gaza?

Israel's biggest Gaza ground raid, Biden doubts Palestinian death toll

Gaza aid set to stop over fuel supply as row erupts over UN's Guterres

The Israeli army said overnight its forces hit "numerous terrorist cells, infrastructure and anti-tank missile launch posts". Black smoke billowed into the sky after a blast in the grainy night-vision footage the Israeli military released hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared preparations for a ground war were under way. The operation in northern Gaza came in "preparation for the next stages of combat," the military said.

International alarm has increased amid growing shock about the scale of human suffering inside the besieged Palestinian territory where Israel has cut off most water, food, fuel and other basic supplies. In southern Gaza, a grieving Umm Omar al-Khaldi said she saw her neighbors being killed in an Israeli strike that reduced the house to rubble, with many feared buried beneath.


"We saw them getting bombarded – the children got bombarded while their mother was hugging them," the woman said, desperately pleading for help from the outside world. "Where are the Arabs, where is humanity?" she asked.

Amnesty International in a statement called for an immediate ceasefire to ensure "access to life-saving aid for people in Gaza amidst an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe." The human rights group's chief Agnes Callamard said: "Serious violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes, by all parties to the conflict continue unabated."


Surging death toll

The conflict's surging death toll is by far the highest since Israel unilaterally withdrew from the small coastal territory in 2005. Entire neighborhoods have been razed, surgeons are operating without anaesthetic, and ice-cream trucks have become makeshift morgues. In chaotic scenes, volunteers and neighbors have clawed, sometimes with their bare hands, through shattered concrete and sand to pull out civilian casualties. All too often they recover only corpses which have piled up, wrapped in bloodstained white shrouds.

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said it urgently needed fuel to maintain life-saving humanitarian operations in the enclave. "If fuel is not received into Gaza, UNRWA will be forced to significantly reduce and in some cases bring its humanitarian operations across the Gaza Strip to a halt. The coming 24 hours are very critical," it said.


In Brussels on Thursday, European Union leaders debated calling for "pauses" in the conflict so aid can get in. The 27-nation bloc has long been split between more pro-Palestinian members such as Ireland and Spain, and staunch backers of Israel including Germany and Austria.

Those differences were on display again as leaders gathered in Brussels for their first in-person summit on the conflict. "Israel is a democratic state guided by very humanitarian principles and so we can be certain that the Israeli army will respect the rules that arise from international law in everything it does," said German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. "I have no doubt about that."

Scholz's remarks contrasted sharply with comments in recent days by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell and Charles Michel, the chairman of EU leaders' summits, who have said that a total blockade of Gaza and attacks on civilian infrastructure already contravene international law.

"What we want is the killing and the violence to stop so that humanitarian aid can get into Gaza, where innocent Palestinian people are suffering, and also to allow us to get EU citizens out," said Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, while.French President Emmanuel Macron warned Wednesday that "a massive intervention that would put civilian lives at risk would be an error." 

The United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, Egypt and Morocco on Thursday condemned the targeting of civilians and "flagrant violations of international law" in Gaza in a joint statement from their respective foreign ministers. 


They also condemned forced displacement and collective punishment in Gaza and emphasized that "the absence of a political solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict has led to repeated acts of violence and suffering for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples and the peoples of the region."

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Minster Hossein Amirabdollahian warned that if Israel's retaliation against Gaza  doesn't end then U.S. troops in the region would "not be spared". Speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, he said: "I say frankly to the American statesmen, who are now managing the genocide in Palestine, that we do not welcome (an)expansion of the war in the region. But if the genocide in Gaza continues, they will not be spared from this fire." 

A delegation from Hamas visited Moscow on Thursday for talks on the release of foreign hostages including Russian citizens that the group is currently holding in Gaza, Russian news agencies reported. Russia has ties to all key players in the Middle East, including Israel, Iran, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the political group that controls Gaza.

Israeli strikes kill nearly 50 hostages, says Hamas; UN warns 'nowhere is safe' in Gaza

Subscribe to Storyboard: A weekly newsletter bringing you the best of CGTN every Friday

Source(s): AFP ,Reuters

Search Trends