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MIDDLE EAST CRISIS UPDATE: 7 NOVEMBER 2023

Israeli forces cut off northern Gaza; Palestinian death toll exceeds 10,000; UN agencies, NGOs call for ceasefire

Israeli forces cut off northern Gaza; Palestinian death toll exceeds 10,000; UN agencies, NGOs call for ceasefire
A rocket is launched at buildings in the northern part of the Gaza Strip, 6 November 2023. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Neil Hall)

The United Nations said no foreigners, dual nationals or injured Palestinians were able to leave the Gaza Strip over the weekend as the Israeli army pressed on with its ground offensive.

Israeli troops were closing in on Hamas positions after encircling Gaza City and in effect cutting off the northern part of the territory from the south, according to the military. Fighter jets killed Hamas commanders, including one responsible for “special security”, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.

The United Nations said no foreigners, dual nationals or injured Palestinians were able to leave the Gaza Strip over the weekend.

Latest developments

Israeli border policewoman stabbed to death in Jerusalem 

A 20-year-old border policewoman was fatally stabbed by a 16-year-old Palestinian in Jerusalem, the police spokesperson’s office said in a text message.

The assailant was “neutralised” by other police officers, the announcement said. The police said that the fallen officer was the 59th to be killed in the war.

US denies Iranian report it seeks ceasefire 

A report in Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency saying the US had signalled it was seeking a ceasefire in Gaza was categorically false, a White House National Security Council spokesperson said Monday.

The Biden administration maintains its position that Israel and Hamas should seek a pause in fighting to allow for the release of hostages. It has stopped short of calling for a full ceasefire, saying it would benefit Hamas. Fars cited Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian as saying that the US sent messages to Tehran indicating it’s seeking a ceasefire.

Israel identifies about 30 launches from Lebanon 

The Israel army said about 30 launches were identified from Lebanon targeting northern Israel. The Hamas military wing, Al-Qassam Brigades, said it fired 16 rockets from Lebanon in response to Israel’s attacks on Gaza. The Israeli military said it was shelling the origin of launches in Lebanon.

Hezbollah said it launched missiles at two Israeli sites and destroyed equipment at another site in north Israel.

Gaza deaths exceed 10,000, says health ministry 

Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip had killed more than 10,000 people, the Hamas-run health ministry said. The number of casualties included more than 4,100 children while another 25,408 people had been wounded, it said.

Read more: Gaza death toll reported above 10,000 as conflict escalates

Israel closing in on Hamas, says military spokesperson 

Israel was “slowly closing in” on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, military spokesperson Richard Hecht said during a briefing on Monday. 

The air force had attacked about 450 Hamas targets in the past day, and fighter jets had killed Hamas commanders, including one responsible for “special security,” the IDF said in an earlier post on the social platform X. Troops had entirely encircled Gaza City and in effect cut off the northern part of the Gaza Strip from the south, the military said in an update on Sunday. 

Displacement is ‘declaration of war’, says Jordan

Jordan would view any conditions leading to the displacement of Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank “as a declaration of war”, Prime Minister Bisher Al-Khasawneh said on Monday during a government meeting.

Jordan’s King Abdullah II earlier said his nation had air-dropped medical aid to a Jordanian field hospital in Gaza City, stating that the act was due to “our duty to aid our brothers and sisters injured in the war”. 

UN agencies, NGOs issue joint call for ceasefire 

The heads of 18 UN agencies and major NGOs issued a rare joint statement to call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.

“It’s been 30 days. Enough is enough. This must stop now,” the declaration said, calling Israel’s blockade and siege of the strip “unacceptable”.

EU opposes long-term Israeli presence in Gaza 

Israel shouldn’t maintain a long-term security presence in Gaza and the strip will form an essential part of a single future Palestinian state, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told a conference in Brussels on Monday.

Von der Leyen spoke against a sustained blockade of Gaza and described the forced displacement of Palestinians as a “recipe for more regional instability”. She said that Hamas cannot control or govern Gaza and that there should be only one Palestinian authority.

Islamic bloc to hold emergency meeting 

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation will hold an emergency meeting in Saudi Arabia on Sunday to discuss Israel’s war with Hamas militants and mounting civilian casualties in the Gaza Strip, according to Turkish officials who are familiar with the matter. 

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is scheduled to attend the meeting, they said. 

Palestinian PM breaks down over Gaza deaths  

Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh broke down in tears during a weekly Cabinet meeting while talking about the civilian deaths in Gaza.

“The scenes in Gaza are beyond what a person can bear. Children being killed by bombs, hunger and fear, wounded left without treatment and ambulances being bombed during live broadcast,” Shtayyeh said.

UN says Gaza evacuation of foreigners blocked for two days 

The UN said no foreigners, dual nationals or injured Palestinians were able to leave the Gaza Strip over the weekend and it was unclear whether they would be able to do so anytime soon.

“This is reportedly due to the failure of Hamas, Israel and Egypt to reach an agreement regarding the safe evacuation of patients from northern Gaza,” the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Monday in a daily bulletin. 

Hundreds of citizens of the US and other countries began leaving Gaza on 1 November through the Rafah border crossing with Egypt.

Iran says war likely to spread if ‘Israeli crimes’ persist  

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani, said the war was “strongly likely” to spread in the Middle East if “Israeli crimes” continued, citing civilian deaths in Gaza.

He also urged the United Nations to “take notice” of comments by an Israeli minister on the possibility of using an atomic bomb in Gaza as a threat to international security. The minister was subsequently suspended from Cabinet meetings. DM

Read more in Daily Maverick: Middle East Crisis News Hub

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