Israel tells ‘everyone in Gaza City’ to leave

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The Israeli forces have dropped leaflets over Gaza City urging “everyone” in the city to evacuate amid heavy combat with Hamas….reports Asian Lite News

Israeli forces conducted aerial operation over Gaza City, dropping leaflets on Wednesday urging residents to evacuate amidst intense combat with Hamas militants.

The leaflets, addressed to “everyone in Gaza City,” provided designated escape routes while cautioning that the urban area, which previously housed over half a million people, remained a perilous combat zone.

Simultaneously, the United Nations raised concerns about the impact of these evacuations, warning that they would exacerbate the mass suffering already endured by Palestinian families, many of whom have been displaced multiple times due to the ongoing conflict.

“The civilians must be protected,” emphasised Stephane Dujarric, spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, underscoring the imperative of safeguarding civilian lives amidst escalating hostilities.

In response to international scrutiny, an Israeli government spokesperson defended the leaflet distribution as a measure to safeguard civilians from harm amid ongoing military operations targeting militants embedded within civilian areas.

Meanwhile, diplomatic efforts continued with talks aimed at securing a ceasefire and negotiating the release of hostages in Qatar. Hamas officials criticised the heightened military operations, asserting that Israel’s actions were designed to pressure the resistance movement into compromising its legitimate demands during ceasefire negotiations.

The conflict escalation also prompted international condemnation following airstrikes on schools in Gaza utilized as shelters for displaced civilians. France and Germany decried these attacks as unacceptable, calling for thorough investigations into civilian casualties and reaffirming the inviolability of civilian sanctuaries in times of armed conflict.

Amidst the military operations and humanitarian crisis, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu engaged in diplomatic maneuvers, meeting with US President Joe Biden’s special envoy for the Middle East, Brett McGurk. Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s commitment to a proposed truce plan while emphasizing the need to preserve Israel’s security interests.

Two-thirds of UNRWA schools hit

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) has said that since the Palestinian-Israeli conflict began, two-thirds of its schools in Gaza have been hit, some bombed out, and many severely damaged.

Schools have gone from safe places of education and hope for children to overcrowded shelters, often ending up a place of death and misery, UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said on Wednesday on social media platform X.

“Nine months in, under our watch, the relentless, endless killings, destruction, and despair continue. Gaza is no place for children,” Lazzarini added, noting that four schools were hit in the last four days, Xinhua news agency reported.

Israel has been waging a large-scale offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip to retaliate against a Hamas rampage through the southern Israeli border on October 7, 2023, during which about 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.

During the past 24 hours, the Israeli military has killed 52 people and wounded 208 others, bringing the total death toll to 38,295 and injuries to 88,241 since the conflict broke out, the Gaza-based health authorities said in a statement on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah has confirmed that his group will stop attacking Israel if an agreement is reached on a ceasefire in Gaza.

Nasrallah made the remark on Wednesday in a televised speech commemorating Mohammad Ni’mah Nasser, a party leader killed by Israel in southern Lebanon last week, reports Xinhua news agency.

The Hezbollah leader also made a response to Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s earlier comments about the potential continuation of conflict in Lebanon even if Gaza’s war ends, asserting the importance of defending Lebanon’s south and its people.

“Is the enemy who is unable to end operations in Rafah and achieve any gains capable of invading south of the Litani River in southern Lebanon?” he asked.

Moreover, Nasrallah reiterated that Hezbollah will support whatever decision is made by Hamas in its negotiations with Israel.

“The brothers in Hamas know best,” he stated, emphasising that Hamas negotiates on behalf of all resistance factions and that Hezbollah will back all its decisions.

Nasrallah’s words came while delegations from Egypt, the United States, Qatar, and Israel met on Wednesday in Qatar’s capital Doha to resume the Gaza truce talks.

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