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Israel’s encirclement of Gaza Metropolis tightens as high US diplomat arrives to push for humanitarian help

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KHAN YOUNIS, Gaza Strip — U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived in Israel on Friday to press for extra humanitarian help to be allowed into besieged Gaza, whereas Israeli troops tightened their encirclement of Gaza Metropolis, the main target of Israel’s marketing campaign to crush the enclave’s ruling Hamas group.

On the northern border with Lebanon, tensions continued to escalate forward of a speech deliberate later Friday by Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah, his first public feedback since Hamas attacked Israel final month, stoking fears the battle may turn out to be a regional one.

On Thursday, Hezbollah, an ally of Hamas, attacked Israeli positions within the north with drones, mortar hearth and suicide drones. The Israeli army stated it retaliated with warplanes and helicopter gunships.

Because the Gaza warfare started Oct. 7, Hezbollah has been taking calculated steps to maintain Israel’s army busy on its border with Lebanon, however to date nothing of the extent to ignite an all-out warfare.

Greater than 9,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza to date, and one other 1,400 individuals have died in Israel, primarily civilians killed throughout Hamas’ preliminary assault.

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Blinken is making his third journey to Israel because the Hamas assault. This journey takes him to Tel Aviv and Amman, Jordan, and follows President Joe Biden’s suggestion for a humanitarian “pause” within the preventing. The goal could be to let in help for Palestinians and let loose extra international nationals and wounded. Round 800 individuals left over the previous two days.

Israel didn’t instantly reply to Biden’s suggestion. However Netanyahu, who has beforehand dominated out a cease-fire, stated Thursday: “We’re advancing … Nothing will cease us.” He vowed to destroy Hamas rule within the Gaza Strip.

The U.S. has pledged unwavering assist for Israel after Hamas militants killed a whole bunch of males, girls and kids on Oct. 7 and took some 240 individuals captive.

Earlier than Blinken departed, the U.S. State Division reiterated American “assist for Israel’s proper to defend itself.”

On the identical time, the Biden administration has pushed for Israel to let extra help into Gaza amid rising alarm over the humanitarian disaster.

Greater than 3,700 Palestinian youngsters have been killed in 25 days of preventing, in keeping with the Well being Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza. Bombardment has pushed greater than half the territory’s 2.3 million individuals from their properties. Meals, water and gas are working low below Israel’s siege, and overwhelmed hospitals warn they’re on the breaking point.

Israel has allowed greater than 260 vans carrying meals and medication by way of the crossing, however help employees say it’s not almost sufficient. Israeli authorities have refused to permit gas in, saying Hamas is hoarding gas for army use and would steal new provides.

White Home nationwide safety spokesman John Kirby stated the U.S. was not advocating for a basic cease-fire however a “momentary, localized” pause.

Israel and the U.S. appear to have no clear plan for what would come subsequent if Hamas rule in Gaza is introduced down — a key query on Blinken’s agenda on his upcoming go to, in keeping with the State Division.

Earlier within the week, Blinken recommended that the Palestinian Authority govern Gaza. Hamas drove the authority’s forces out of Gaza in its 2007 takeover of the territory. The authority now holds restricted powers in some components of the Israeli-occupied West Financial institution.

Navy officers stated Israeli forces have now utterly encircled Gaza Metropolis, a densely packed cluster of neighborhoods that Israel says is the middle of Hamas army infrastructure and features a huge community of underground tunnels, bunkers and command facilities.

Israeli forces are “preventing in a built-up, dense, advanced space,” stated the army’s chief of employees, Herzi Halevy.

Israel army spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stated Israeli forces had been in “nose to nose” battles with militants, calling in airstrikes and shelling when wanted. He stated they had been inflicting heavy losses on Hamas fighters and destroying their infrastructure with engineering gear.

Casualties on each side are anticipated to rise as Israeli troops advance towards the dense residential neighborhoods of Gaza Metropolis.

On Thursday, Israeli planes dropped leaflets warning residents to right away evacuate the Shati refugee camp, which borders Gaza Metropolis’s heart.

“Time is up,” the leaflets learn, warning that strikes “with crushing drive” in opposition to Hamas fighters had been coming.

Lots of of 1000’s of Palestinians stay within the path of preventing in northern Gaza, regardless of Israel’s repeated requires them to evacuate. Many have crowded into U.N. services, hoping for security.

Nonetheless, 4 U.N. schools-turned-shelter in northern Gaza and Bureij had been hit in current days, killing 24 individuals, in keeping with Philippe Lazzarini, general-secretary of the U.N. company for Palestinian refugees, often called UNRWA.

Along with the 9,061 Palestinians killed within the warfare, largely girls and minors, greater than 32,000 individuals have been wounded, the Gaza Well being Ministry stated, with out offering a breakdown between civilians and fighters.

In Israel, some 5,400 have been injured along with the 1,400 killed, and 19 Israeli troopers have been killed in Gaza because the begin of the bottom operation.

Rocket hearth from Gaza into Israel, and each day skirmishes between Israel and Lebanon’s Hezbollah militants, have additionally disrupted life for thousands and thousands of Israelis and compelled an estimated 250,000 to evacuate border cities.

A number of hundred Palestinians with international passports have been in a position to flee the preventing this week, leaving Gaza by way of the Rafah crossing into Egypt.

U.S. officers stated 79 Individuals had been amongst those that have gotten out. The U.S. has stated it’s making an attempt to evacuate 400 Individuals with their households.

Egypt has stated it is not going to settle for an inflow of Palestinian refugees, fearing Israel is not going to enable them to return to Gaza after the warfare.


Mroue reported from Beirut; Rising reported from Bangkok.


Full AP protection at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war

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