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Fierce fighting in Gaza as US envoy faces Arab anger


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Fierce fighting in Gaza as US envoy faces Arab anger

By Adel Zaanoun with Leon Bruneau in Amman
Gaza Strip, Palestinian Territories (AFP) Nov 4, 2023
Israel battled into the fifth week Saturday of its war to crush Hamas, showing no signs of letting up even as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken faced a rising tide of anger in meetings with Arab foreign ministers.

Blinken reaffirmed US support for "humanitarian pauses" in the fighting in Gaza to ensure desperate civilians get help a day after Israel's hawkish Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the idea short shrift.

Speaking at a news conference in Amman about sparing civilians and speeding up aid deliveries, Blinken said: "The United States believes that all of these efforts will be facilitated by humanitarian pauses."

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, whose country has been acting as the sole conduit for foreigners to escape the Gaza Strip and for aid to get in, called for an "immediate and comprehensive ceasefire".

Hamas said late Saturday the evacuation of dual nationals and foreigners from Gaza was being suspended until Israel lets some wounded Palestinians reach Rafah so they can cross the border for hospital treatment in Egypt.

Israeli chief of staff Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi visited troops inside Gaza on Saturday after they completed encirclement of its largest city.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israeli forces were fighting "hard" inside Gaza. He said they were "operating from south and north (of Gaza City) and have entered populated areas".

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas in punishment for its brutal October 7 attack on communities and military outposts near the Gaza border, which killed more than 1,400 people, mainly civilians.

- Netanyahu 'written off' -

The health ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas, says more than 9,480 Gazans, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israeli strikes and the intensifying ground campaign.

The ministry said at least 12 people had been killed when Israel struck a United Nations school where thousands of displaced Palestinians were sheltering.

"Bombs were falling on us, people got cut into pieces," said Sajda Maarouf, a Palestinian woman sheltering in the school. "We want a truce, please, we are exhausted."

The fighting has provoked anti-Israeli protests around the world, and political opposition from key regional powers, including influential Turkey, which on Saturday recalled its ambassador from Israel.

Palestinian ally Turkey had been mending torn relations with Israel until last month's start of the Israel-Hamas war.

But Ankara's tone hardened against both Israel and its Western supporters -- particularly the United States -- as the fighting escalated and the death toll among Palestinian civilians soared.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters he held Netanyahu personally responsible for the growing civilian death toll in Gaza.

"Netanyahu is no longer someone we can talk to. We have written him off," Turkish media quoted Erdogan as saying.

Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said the move was "another step by the Turkish president that sides with the Hamas terrorist organisation".

Hamas hailed the move and urged Ankara to "put pressure on President (Joe) Biden and his administration" so that "humanitarian and medical help can reach our besieged people in the Gaza Strip".

Blinken is to begin a two-day visit to Turkey on Sunday, the US State Department said. Thousands demonstrated in Istanbul on Saturday against his visit.

- 'Targeted raid' -

The Israeli mil itary describes Gaza City as "the centre of the Hamas terror organisation", but the US special envoy for aid assistance, David Satterfield, said between 350,000 and 400,000 civilians remained in the city and adjacent areas.

Overnight, Israeli ground forces launched "a targeted raid" to map tunnels and clear explosive traps in southern Gaza, where it has struck before but rarely sent in troops, the military said.

"The troops encountered a terrorist cell exiting a tunnel shaft. In response, the troops fired shells toward the terrorists and killed them," it said.

Israel says it has struck 12,000 targets across the Palestinian territory since October 7, one of the fiercest bombing campaigns in recent memory.

A key focus of Blinken's visit to Israel on Friday was to convince Netanyahu to enact "humanitarian pauses".

Netanyahu rebuffed the proposal, saying he would not agree to a "temporary truce" with Hamas until the Islamist group releases more than 240 Israeli and foreign hostages it abducted during its October 7 attack.

- Ambulance hit -

In Gaza City, an Israeli strike on Friday hit an ambulance convoy near the territory's largest hospital Al-Shifa, killing 15 people, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent and the Hamas-run health ministry.

Israel's military said it had targeted an ambulance used by a "Hamas terrorist cell" and had "neutralised" those inside.

An AFP journalist saw multiple bodies beside the blood-splattered Palestinian Red Crescent vehicle.

The Red Crescent said a convoy of five vehicles had been destined for the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, when they were struck multiple times.

One vehicle had been transporting a 35-year-old woman with shrapnel wounds.

A senior White House official said Hamas had tried to use a US-brokered deal opening the Egyptian border crossing to get its cadres out.

"That was just unacceptable to Egypt, to us, to Israel," the official said.

- Shuttle diplomacy -

Blinken on Saturday held talks in Amman with his counterparts from Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, all key players in the crisis.

In his talks with the US top diplomat, King Abdullah II of Jordan underlined that "the only way to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is to work towards a political horizon to achieve a just and comprehensive peace based on the two-state solution".

The US administration has said that it too backs a Palestinian state alongside Israel, but Netanyahu's hard-right government is implacably opposed.

The Amman talks came amid mounting Arab anger over the civilian death toll in the war.

Jordan, which in 1994 became only the second Arab country after Egypt to make peace with Israel, recalled its ambassador from Israel on Wednesday for the first time since 2019.


Artificial Intelligence Analysis

over Israels conflict with Hamas.Objective:

The objective of this text is to provide an update on the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Current State-of-the-Art and Limits:

The US is supporting humanitarian pauses in the fighting in order to provide aid to desperate civilians, however, the Prime Minister of Israel has been resistant to the idea and the evacuation of dual nationals and foreigners from Gaza has been suspended due to Israel not allowing some wounded Palestinians to reach Rafah for hospital treatment in Egypt. Israeli forces have been fighting hard from the south and north of Gaza City and have entered populated areas. The Israeli government has vowed to destroy Hamas in punishment for its October 7 attack.

Whats New/Why will it Succeed:

The new element of this conflict is that US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is facing a rising tide of anger from Arab foreign ministers in regards to Israels actions in the Gaza Strip.

Target Audience/Impact:

The target audience for this text is those who are interested in the conflict between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. If successful, the result will be a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip and aid for civilians.

Risks Involved:

The risk involved in pursuing this approach is that the ceasefire will not be successful and the conflict between Israel and Hamas will continue.

Cost /Timeline/

Success Metrics:

The cost of pursuing this approach is unknown, however, the timeline for achieving results is also unknown and the success metrics are also unknown.

Score: 6/10

This AI report is generated by a sophisticated prompt to a ChatGPT API. Our editors clean text for presentation, but preserve AI thought for our collective observation. Please comment and ask questions about AI use by Spacedaily. We appreciate your support and contribution to better trade news.

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