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– According to a video broadcast by Al Jazeera TV, another heavy rocket attack appears to be underway in Gaza City. The footage showed clumps of orange smudges falling to the ground, although it was not immediately known which part of the city they were falling on.
– The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has warned that the health care system in Gaza has “reached a point of no return”, in connection with the escalation of violence, which has “severely” affected hospitals and ambulances working in the besieged Palestinian territory.
In a statement on Friday, the ICRC said the attacks on medical facilities and personnel dealt a “severe blow” to Gaza’s health care system, which is already “significantly weakened” after more than a month of heavy fighting and is “taking a heavy toll” on civilians, patients and medical personnel.
William Schomburg, head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Gaza, said: “The destruction of Gaza’s hospitals is becoming intolerable and must stop. The lives of thousands of civilians, patients and medical staff are at risk.
According to the organization, even children’s hospitals were not spared from the violence, including the “heavily damaged” al-Nasser hospital and the al-Rantisi hospital, which had to stop its operations.
Noting that thousands of displaced families are now housed in the al-Shifa medical complex, she said any military operation around the hospitals “must take into account the presence of civilians who are protected under international humanitarian law”.
The ICRC urged respect and protection of medical facilities, patients and medical workers in Gaza.
– Israel is reportedly considering a deal under which Hamas would release all civilian hostages held in Gaza.
Hamas and Israel are negotiating two proposals to release the hostages, the New York Times reported Friday, citing officials briefed on the talks. Qatar is the main mediator in the talks, and high-ranking US officials have also been involved, the newspaper reported.
Under one proposal under discussion, Hamas would release 10 to 20 civilian hostages — including Israeli women and children and foreigners including Americans — in exchange for a brief cessation of hostilities, one of the officials said. That exchange could be followed by the release of about 100 civilians if conditions are met, they said.
In exchange, Hamas is demanding a short break, more humanitarian aid, fuel for hospitals and the release of women and children in Israeli prisons, according to the source. The official said Israeli authorities have expressed uncertainty about releasing their prisoners.
According to Israeli officials, Hamas and other Palestinian groups are holding about 240 people hostage in Gaza. Less than half of them are civilians, one of the officials said.
Hamas has refused to release any of the Israeli men of military age it is holding in Gaza, officials said.
– Israel says more than 100,000 residents have fled Gaza City to the south in the past two days
In a televised briefing on Friday, army spokesman Daniel Hagari acknowledged that efforts were underway to free the hostages held by Hamas, but said it would take some time, Reuters reported.
On the ground in Gaza, conditions continue to deteriorate amid the sustained Israeli onslaught. According to an AFP report, streets are in ruins, residents are fleeing, and there are gunfights between Israeli soldiers and Hamas fighters.
The agency said heavy gunfire, explosions and the buzz of Israeli military drones could be heard as night fell over Gaza City, with the only glimmer of light coming from al-Shifa hospital, which is overwhelmed with casualties.
“Given the intensity of the bombing and shooting, I was not optimistic that any of my children or I would escape unharmed,” resident Jawad Haruda told AFP. He described the journey from the coastal refugee camp Šatí as a “tragedy”.
The agency also spoke to Al Jazeera correspondent Wael Al-Dahdouh after he left the once bustling city, now devoid of shoppers and heavy traffic.
“The situation in Gaza is very difficult. The bombing is hitting all areas and there are many clashes, contributed to by Israeli raids,” he said.
– Crowds of people marched through the center of Janin in the occupied West Bank on Friday for the funerals of Palestinians killed in an airstrike by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).
– While the Israeli offensive in Gaza continues, violence in the occupied West Bank is escalating. On Thursday, nineteen Palestinians were killed in clashes with the IDF across the territory.
According to Israeli media citing an IDF statement, the IDF launched an anti-terrorist operation during which troops exchanged fire with armed “terrorists”.
Janin has long been the focus of clashes between Hamas and Israeli security forces, is outside the practical control of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah, and is a stronghold of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
– A letter signed by 2,900 doctors and other BMA members was sent to the British Medical Association on Friday, calling for further action and stronger support for the Palestinians.
“Our medical colleagues in Gaza are exhausted and the basic resources needed to care for patients are running out,” the letter said. “This situation is neither sustainable nor humane and is categorically morally and legally unacceptable.”
The letter expressed “serious concern over the growing political repression against those calling for a ceasefire and freedom for the Palestinian people”.
Health workers say they feel abandoned in Gaza, where more than a third of hospitals have been shut down since last week.
– The director general of Gaza’s hospitals, Mohammed Zaqout, said on Friday that hospitals are facing a “catastrophic situation” without electricity, water and food.
“We are unable to provide services to the wounded and the hospitals are constantly being bombed by Israel.”
– Uniformed British medics protested outside Downing Street on Friday to commemorate the nearly 200 doctors killed in Gaza since Israel’s bombardment began.
The vigil was held to call on Prime Minister Ríshi Sunak to push for an early ceasefire.
Many of the participating hospital workers carried one of 189 different banners bearing the name of a health worker killed in Gaza in the past month. Organizers said several more people would have died before the names were printed.
Hospitals in Gaza continue to be under attack, with the largest al-Shifa hospital hit by Israeli fire early Friday morning. The Israeli military claims that Hamas hides in and under hospitals and that it has set up a command center under al-Shifa Hospital, a claim denied by hospital staff.
– Evacuation from Gaza to Egypt has been suspended
Evacuations from the Gaza Strip to Egypt for foreign passport holders and for wounded Palestinians in need of urgent medical treatment were suspended on Friday, Reuters reported, citing three Egyptian security sources and a Palestinian official.
According to a Palestinian official and an Egyptian health source, the suspension was due to problems transporting medical evacuees to the Rafah crossing from inside Gaza.
Several dozen foreign passport holders and their dependents, as well as a small number of medical evacuees, entered Egypt on Friday before crossings were suspended, Egyptian sources said.
The Rafah crossing reopened for limited evacuations on Thursday after being suspended again earlier in the week due to what the US State Department described as an unspecified “security circumstance”.
Nearly 700 foreign passport holders and dependents, 12 medical evacuees and 10 escorts were reportedly able to leave Gaza through the crossing on Thursday.
– According to him, a senior representative of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group denied Israeli claims that al-Shifa hospital in Gaza is being used by Palestinian fighters.
Mohamad al-Hindi, deputy secretary general of Islamic Jihad, said Israel could reach al-Shifa hospital “within hours” and that claims that the hospital is a resistance base were “false,” the AP reported.
“Not a single bullet was fired from Šifa Hospital or any other hospital,” he said.
Israel says Hamas has placed parts of its military tunnel system and command network under civilian facilities, including al-Shifa Hospital, Gaza’s largest hospital. Last month, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released an infographic that it said showed a Hamas command post under a hospital.
Hamas has denied allegations that the group is using the Shifa hospital as a shield for its underground military infrastructure, saying the claims are “not based on truth”.
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