Israel-Hamas war live: Gaza strikes to intensify, Israeli military says; West Bank mosque hit | Israel-Hamas war

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Key events

The USS Carney, a US Navy guided missile destroyer, was in the northern Red Sea last Thursday morning when its radar detected three cruise missiles apparently launched by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. The missiles’ target was unclear but they were heading north, so it was “potentially” Israel. Within a very short time, the Carney had destroyed them all.

These were the first shots fired by the US in defence of Israel in the current conflict. The Pentagon press secretary later told reporters that the intervention was “to send a strong message intended to deter a wider conflict” and “regional escalation”.

The crew of the USS Carney are not alone in having this objective. Since Hamas’s terrorist attacks on 7 October, very large numbers of people have been working very hard to contain the hostilities. The motives and means of presidents, prime ministers, priests, humanitarians, protesters, influencers, spies, diplomats and many others may vary but foremost for many is the very real fear of the consequences for all of us of failure.

To read all of this analysis by Jason Burke, click here:

An assessment by French military intelligence indicates the most likely cause of the deadly explosion at Gaza City’s Al-Ahli hospital was a Palestinian rocket that carried an explosive charge of about 5kg (11 pounds) and possibly misfired, a senior French military official has said.

Associated Press reports the official said several rockets in the arsenal of Hamas carried explosive charges of about that weight, including an Iranian-made rocket and another that was Palestinian-made.

None of the French military intelligence pointed to an Israeli strike, the official said on Friday.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity but was cleared to discuss the assessment by President Emmanuel Macron in what was described as an attempt to be transparent about the French intelligence findings. The assessment was based on classified information, satellite imagery, intelligence shared by other countries and open-source information, the official said.

The report came as Canada’s defence department said Israel was not behind the hospital explosion on Tuesday night.

Reuters quoted the National Department of Defence as saying in a statement: “Analysis conducted independently by the Canadian Forces Intelligence Command indicates with a high degree of confidence that Israel did not strike the Al-Ahli hospital on 17 October 2023.”

Wounded Palestinians at Gaza City’s Al-Ahli hospital after the explosion on 17 October
Wounded Palestinians at Gaza City’s Al-Ahli hospital after the explosion on 17 October. Photograph: Abed Khaled/AP

The explosion was more likely caused by an errant rocket fired from Gaza, the Canadian department said, based on analysis of open source and classified reporting.

Hamas blamed an Israeli airstrike for the killings, while the Israeli army blamed a misfired rocket from the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad, which denied it was responsible.

The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, convened his cabinet late on Saturday, reportedly to discuss the expected ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, while the US said it would send more air defence systems to the Middle East and prepare to move in more troops after attacks on its forces in Iraq and warnings from militants against intervening to support Israel against Hamas.

For our full report covering the conflict’s latest key developments, click here:

The news that Israel is planning to evacuate 14 additional communities in northern Israel comes as its military says escalating attacks by Hezbollah risk “dragging Lebanon into a war”.

Agence France-Presse reports Israel Defence Forces spokesman Jonathan Conricus said: “Hezbollah … is dragging Lebanon into a war that it will gain nothing from, but stands to lose a lot.”

Israel has been exchanging fire with Hezbollah across its northern border.

Conricus said:

Hezbollah is playing a very, very dangerous game. They’re escalating the situation. We see more and more attacks every day.

Is the Lebanese state really willing to jeopardise what is left of Lebanese prosperity and Lebanese sovereignty for the sake of terrorists in Gaza?

Recent exchanges of fire have killed four Hezbollah fighters and a member of Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad in Lebanon, while three Israeli troops were injured, one seriously, in Hezbollah anti-tank fire, and two Thai farm workers also wounded.

Israel has ordered dozens of northern communities to evacuate, and several thousand Lebanese have also fled border regions for the southern city of Tyre.

Hezbollah deputy leader Naim Qassem has warned the group could step up its involvement in the conflict.

Israel to evacuate 14 more communities in north

Israel plans to evacuate 14 additional communities in northern Israel, it has said in a statement, snapped on Reuters.

The move comes after renewed cross-border exchanges of fire between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah militant across Israel’s northern border, prompting concerns of a widening conflict amid the Israel-Hamas war.

Israel pounded southern Gaza with airstrikes early on Sunday after saying it would intensify its attacks in the territory’s north, Reuters reports.

At least 11 Palestinians were killed in an Israeli strike in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis, and Israeli was striking the southern city of Rafah, Palestinian media reported.

The strikes came hours after the Israeli military spokesperson R Adm Daniel Hagari called on Gazans to move south “for your own safety”.

“We will continue to attack in the area of Gaza City and increase attacks,” he told Israeli reporters on Saturday.

Israel started its “total siege” of Gaza after Hamas militants carried out a cross-border attack on southern Israel on 7 October, killing 1,400 people, mainly civilians.

Gaza’s health ministry said on Saturday that Israel’s air and missile strikes in retaliation had killed at least 4,385 Palestinians, including hundreds of children, while more than a million of the territory’s 2.3 million people had been displaced.

Israeli forces killed four Palestinians in the occupied West Bank overnight, bringing the total number of deaths there to 89 since 7 October, Reuters quoted the Palestinian health ministry as saying on Sunday.

Opening summary

Hello and welcome back to our rolling live coverage of the Israel-Hamas war. This is Adam Fulton and here’s a snapshot of where things stand, including the latest developments on day 16.

Israel said it planned to intensify its attacks on Gaza from Saturday night, while Israeli commanders visited frontline units to rally troops who have massed on the border with Gaza.

Israel’s R Adm Daniel Hagari, speaking to reporters in response to a question about a possible ground invasion into Gaza, said on Saturday: “We will deepen our attacks to minimise the dangers to our forces in the next stages of the war. We are going to increase the attacks from today.”

The chief of staff, Lt Gen Herzi Halevi, told one infantry brigade on Saturday: “We will enter Gaza. Gaza is densely populated, the enemy is preparing a lot of things there – but we are also preparing for them.”

Meanwhile, Israel says it killed “terror operatives” from Hamas and Islamic Jihad who were planning attacks, in an airstrike on al-Ansar mosque in Jenin in the West Bank early on Sunday.

The Red Crescent in Jenin said one person was killed and three injured.

People inspect the damage after an Israeli strike hit a compound beneath a mosque in Jenin refugee camp, West Bank
People inspect the damage after an Israeli strike hit a compound beneath a mosque in Jenin refugee camp, West Bank. Photograph: Reuters

In other news as it approaches 7.30am in Gaza City and Tel Aviv:

  • Israel said its aircraft struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon on Saturday and that one of its soldiers was hit by an anti-tank missile, in cross-border fighting that the Iran-backed group said killed six of its fighters. A security source in Lebanon said one Hezbollah fighter was killed in the Lebanese area of Hula, opposite the Israeli community of Margaliot, which Israel said was the target of an anti-tank missile attack. The Israeli army said it fired back. Hezbollah, which claimed attacks on Israeli military positions throughout Saturday, later said five other members were killed.

  • The US will send a terminal high-altitude area defence (Thaad) system and additional Patriot air defence missile system battalions to the Middle East, the Pentagon has said, in response to recent attacks on US troops in the region. The defence secretary, Lloyd Austin, also said he was placing additional troops on prepare-to-deploy orders, while not saying how many.

  • Two Palestinians were killed and several wounded in Israeli shelling on the Jenin refugee camp, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

  • Hamas claimed it had planned to release two more hostages “for humanitarian reasons” but that Israel refused, a Hamas spokesperson said on Saturday. The Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that “we will not refer to false propaganda by Hamas” and it would “continue to act in every way to return all the kidnapped and missing people home”. Abu Ubaida, a spokesperson for the Izz el-Deen al-Qassam brigades, had said it informed Qatar on Friday of Hamas’s intention to release the two hostages.

  • Hezbollah is “in the heart of the battle”, the deputy leader of the Iran-backed militant group in Lebanon said. Sheikh Naim Kassem vowed that Israel would pay a high price whenever it started its ground offensive in Gaza.

  • Gaza’s healthcare system is “facing collapse”, Médecins Sans Frontières has said. The international medical organisation said on Saturday that Gaza’s hospitals were “overwhelmed and lacking resources”.

  • Doctors in Gaza have warned that 130 premature babies are in “imminent danger due to a lack of fuel”. “The world cannot simply look on as these babies are killed by the siege in Gaza,” said Melanie Ward, the chief executive of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

Residential buildings destroyed in Israeli strikes in Zahra City, southern Gaza
Residential buildings destroyed in Israeli strikes in Zahra City, southern Gaza. Photograph: Reuters
  • The Rafah crossing point between Egypt and Gaza finally opened to allow in a trickle of aid on Saturday for the first time in two weeks, after intense negotiations involving the US, Israel, Egypt and the UN. Under the US-brokered agreement, only 20 trucks were allowed in on Saturday, deliveries from the Egyptian Red Crescent to the Palestinian Red Crescent organisation. Aid officials said they were not expecting a delivery on Sunday, with the next consignment due to be a UN convoy on Monday. Saturday’s entry of humanitarian aid “is a welcomed glimpse of hope but this minuscule aid represents a drop in the ocean”, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society said.

  • The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, urged all parties to keep the Rafah crossing into Gaza open to enable aid to continue coming through.

  • The US on Saturday proposed a draft UN security council resolution that says Israel has a right to defend itself and demands Iran stop exporting arms to “militias and terrorist groups threatening peace and security across the region”. Russia plans to hold another UN security council meeting on the humanitarian situation in Gaza, the Russian deputy UN envoy Dmitry Polyansky said on Saturday.

  • Qatar’s foreign minister has said it is coordinating with the US and other international partners to release more hostages and reduce escalation in Gaza. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman al-Thani spoke to the US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, in a phone call on Saturday.

  • The first Palestinian American to serve as a congressman on the US Capitol is mourning the loss of several family members who were killed at the Greek Orthodox church in Gaza that was reportedly struck by Israel. Justin Amash detailed his sorrow in a post on X/Twitter.

  • Up to 100,000 people marched in London on Saturday in support of Palestine, calling on an immediate end to the war.

  • Thirteen people were reportedly killed in an airstrike above a residential unit in the Gaza city of Deir al-Balah. The report from Reuters, citing Hamas media, has not been independently verified.

  • The Iraqi prime minister said at peace talks in Cairo on Saturday that Palestinian people were “facing genocide” and being targeted in hospitals. “It’s a war crime on full scale,” Mohammed Shia al-Sudani said. The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said: “We won’t leave, we will remain on our land.” The UN secretary general, António Guterres, told the summit that the time had come for “action to end this godawful nightmare” and called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire. “I appeal for a humanitarian ceasefire now,” he said. The UN’s undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs and the emergency relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said the humanitarian situation in Gaza “has reached catastrophic levels”.

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