A GIRL covers her ears during Israeli air strikes on the al-Maghazi refugee camp, Gaza Strip, on Monday.—AFP
A GIRL covers her ears during Israeli air strikes on the al-Maghazi refugee camp, Gaza Strip, on Monday.—AFP

• Israeli minister’s N-remarks condemned as US sends nuclear submarine to region
• South Africa recalls diplomats from Tel Aviv
• Tanks moving between ruins; 1.5m people have fled northern Gaza

GAZA STRIP: The death toll in Gaza has exceeded 10,000 after nearly one month of Isra­eli bombardment, the Hamas-run health ministry said on Monday as the military action against the Palestinian group showed signs of intensifying.

Determined to destroy Hamas whose Oct 7 raid left 1,400 dead in Israel and saw over 240 taken prisoner, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed no let-up despite mounting international calls for a halt to fighting.

Hundreds of overnight stri­kes pushed the death toll to 10,022, mostly women and children, a spokesman for the health ministry told a press conference.

Two paediatric hospitals and Gaza’s only psychiatric hospital were hit, the ministry said, after the director of another hospital, the Deir Al Balah in central Gaza, reported he had counted 58 dead.

“These are massacres. They destroyed three houses over the heads of their inhabitants,” one resident, Mahmud Meshmesh, said.

“We have already taken 40 bo­d­ies out of the rubble,” he said as crowds prayed around cor­pses wrapped in white shrouds.

Israel’s ground forces have flooded the northern half of the Gaza Strip with tanks and tightened an encirclement of Gaza City, effectively splitting the territory in two, even as hundreds of thousands of civilians remained in the north despite Israeli evacuation orders.

The United States sent its top diplomat Antony Blinken on a whirlwind Middle East tour that wrapped up on Monday in Turkiye, where again his host pressed for a ceasefire, which Washington has declined to endorse.

The Israeli army said on Monday it had pounded Gaza with “significant” strikes on 450 targets, having earlier said it had already hit over 12,000.

It also reported seizing a Hamas ‘command post’ in central Gaza, where tanks were driving between the ruins of buildings.

Israeli troops and Hamas fighters have engaged in fierce house-to-house combat in densely populated northern Gaza, where the Israeli bombardment has sent 1.5 million people fleeing to other parts of the territory.

Shortly before the latest barrage of strikes, internet and telephone lines were cut, the Israeli army said.

Israel has air-dropped leaflets and sent text messages ordering Palestinian civilians in northern Gaza to head south, but a US official said at least 350,000 civilians remained in the worst-hit areas.

The Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt reopened on Monday to allow the evacuation of foreigners and dual nationals, ending a two-day closure prompted by a dispute over the passage of ambulances.

Six ambulances carrying wounded Gazans also arrived in Egypt as the evacuations resumed, a border official said.

In Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, a female Israeli soldier was “seriously” wounded in a knife attack before “border police forces neutralised the terrorist by shooting”, police said.

Erdogan snubs Blinken

Blinken called for “humanitarian pauses” while rejecting Arab countries’ demands for a ceasefire.

After meeting his Turkish counterpart Hakan Fidan in Ankara, Blinken said Washington was working “very aggressively” to dramatically expand aid reaching trapped civilians in Gaza, but he did not provide details before boarding a flight to Japan.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself was travelling across his country’s remote northeast on Monday, snubbing Blinken.

S. Africa recalls diplomats

South Africa recalled its diplomats from Israel on Monday to assess its relationship with the country.

Naledi Pandor, the foreign minister, made the remarks in Pretoria during a joint press briefing with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.

Calling the return of diplomats a “normal practice”, Pandor said the recall was to determine “whether there is any potential for you to be of assistance and whether the continued relationship is actually able to be sustained in all terms”.

Arrival of N-sub

US Central Command, which covers the Middle East, said on X, formerly Twitter, that a nuclear missile submarine had arrived in the region — an unusual announcement seen by some analysts as a message to Iran.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian told state TV the US had sent a message to Iran in the past three days saying it sought a ceasefire in Gaza, but in practice Iran had seen only US “support of genocide in Gaza”.

Remarks on N-option condemned

Pakistan expressed alarm over an Israeli minister’s statement threatening the use of nuclear force against Palestinians.

In a post on X, the Foreign Office spokesperson said in Islamabad the statement reflects an inclination to ethnic cleansing and genocide.

“It is time for the international community to wake up to the threat posed by the Israeli aggression to regional peace, security and stability,” the spokesperson said.

Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries condemned the Israeli minister’s remarks.

The minister’s comments showed the penetration of “extremism and brutality” among members of the Israeli government, the Saudi statement said.

In Doha, Qatar’s foreign ministry said such threats were an incitement to war crime and a disregard for humanitarian values and international laws.

In Kuwait City, a government spokesperson said such remarks prove that the “Israeli aggression against Palestinian people has reached a chilling stage”.

The spokesperson appealed to the United Nations Security Council to halt Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

The Yemeni foreign ministry said the Israeli statement represents a serious threat and incitement to murder. “It reflects unprecedented levels of hatred and extremism.

Published in Dawn, November 7th, 2023



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