MIDDLE EAST CRISIS UPDATE: 2 NOVEMBER 2023
First group of US citizens depart Gaza; Israel strikes Jabalia refugee camp twice in 24 hours
The State Department said the first group of US citizens was allowed to leave the Gaza Strip, as a number of foreigners and wounded Palestinians passed through Rafah and arrived in Egypt. A Qatar-mediated deal allowing the departures required agreement between Hamas, Egypt and Israel. It’s intended to lead to about 500 people leaving each day, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Jordan said it has recalled its ambassador to Israel in a protest against the war and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. And Latin America’s leftist leaders are reevaluating their relations with Israel. Colombia and Chile recalled their ambassadors to Israel for consultations, and the hard-left government of Bolivia cut off diplomatic relations with Israel altogether.
The Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza was reported to have been struck a second time in less than 24 hours. Israel said Hamas, which is designated a terrorist group by the US and the EU, was using Jabalia as a training centre.
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US says first Americans are allowed to exit Gaza
Matthew Miller, the State Department’s spokesperson, said the first US citizens were permitted to leave the Gaza Strip, while declining to say how many departed. President Joe Biden said he expected more Americans to leave Gaza “over the coming days”.
The president said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that “US leadership” had helped secure the multiparty deal to allow foreign nationals and wounded Palestinians to leave the territory through the crossing with Egypt. “We won’t let up working to get Americans out of Gaza,” Biden said.
Roughly 400 US citizens and their families were in Gaza and seeking to depart, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said. The department also confirmed that Blinken would travel to Israel and Jordan on Friday to pursue diplomacy in the troubled region.
Israel says it killed Hamas anti-tank missile unit’s head
The Israeli army said it killed Muhammad A’sar, the head of Hamas’ anti-tank missile unit in the Gaza Strip, in an aerial attack by fighter jets.
“A’sar was responsible for all of Hamas’ anti-tank missile units throughout Gaza and commanded numerous anti-tank missile attacks that were carried out against civilians” and Israeli soldiers, the army said in a statement. Hamas didn’t immediately comment on the claim.
Leftist Latin American leaders pull their Israel envoys
Latin America’s leftist leaders are reevaluating their relations with Israel over its offensive in the Gaza Strip, highlighting the diplomatic risks posed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s bid to eradicate Hamas.
On Tuesday, Colombia and Chile recalled their ambassadors to Israel for consultations in protest. The hard-left government of Bolivia cut off diplomatic relations with Israel altogether, accusing it of “crimes against humanity.”
Israel’s attacks on Gaza “don’t respect the fundamental rules of international law,” Chilean President Gabriel Boric said in a post on X. Colombia President Gustavo Petro, an outspoken critic of Israel in the past, called the offensive “a massacre”.
Five French nationals cross into Egypt, says foreign ministry
Five French nationals crossed into Egypt from Gaza, the French foreign ministry said, in another sign that a number of foreigners were being allowed to pass through Rafah.
Jordan recalls envoy to condemn Israel’s Gaza push
Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel “in rejection and condemnation of the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza”, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said in an emailed statement. He said Israel would be told not to return its ambassador, who had left Jordan earlier.
Jordan signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994, making it the second Arab state to do so after Egypt.
Israel strikes cell in Lebanon trying to launch missiles
An Israeli tank struck a group attempting to launch anti-tank missiles from Lebanon into Israeli territory, the Israel Defense Forces said.
Israel again strikes residential area in Jabalia camp
Israeli military struck a residential area in the Jabalia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip for a second day in a row, causing “dozens” of deaths and injuries, according to Palestine TV.
The army had hit the refugee camp overnight, with the health ministry in the Hamas-run territory saying it killed and wounded hundreds of people.
WHO reports attacks on Gaza health facilities
The World Health Organization said there’d been three attacks affecting health facilities in Gaza over 24 hours. One resulted in the destruction of a primary-care clinic, alongside damage to two hospitals.
One of the buildings sustaining damages was the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, the main cancer treatment centre in Gaza City, which was hit for the second night in a row, a report on the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
“The hospital was directly hit in an aerial bombardment, with damage to the third floor and smoke causing suffocation and panic among the staff and people sheltering there,” the report said.
All 13 hospitals that were still operational in Gaza City and northern Gaza had received repeated Israeli evacuation orders, it said. Thousands of patients and medical staff, as well as about 117,000 displaced people were staying in these facilities, and for some it was impossible to move, it added.
Israel says more soldiers killed in Gaza clashes
Israel said 13 more of its soldiers died in clashes in Gaza as it steps up efforts to wipe out Hamas. The Israeli military made the announcement on Wednesday morning, without disclosing when the troops died. They were all men and ranged in age from 19 to 24, according to a list published by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
The IDF has now announced it’s suffered 15 fatalities since ground operations in the Gaza Strip started over the weekend.
Iran’s Khamenei calls for oil embargo against Israel
Iran’s supreme leader called on Muslim nations to impose an embargo on oil exports to Israel. “Channels for exports of oil and goods to Israel should be cut off,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a televised speech in Tehran on Wednesday.
His comments echoed a call by the country’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian on 18 October for halting oil exports to Israel. Khamenei also urged Muslim nations to “stop economic cooperation with and rally against Israel.”
Since mid-May, Israel has imported about 220,000 barrels a day of crude, of which about 60% came from Kazakhstan and Azerbaijan, according to data from analytics firm Kpler. West African producers, primarily Gabon, are other big suppliers.
Read more: Where does Israel get its oil from?
UN says ground operation is largest to date
The UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said the Israeli ground operation in Gaza was the largest to date. It cited fighting primarily in northern Gaza and the outskirts of Gaza City, alongside intense bombardment. The total number of reported Palestinian fatalities since the start of the hostilities was 8,525, of whom 67% were children and women, the UN said. DM