About 1.4 million people have been displaced in Gaza, and more than 544,000 are sheltering in 147 UN-designated emergency shelters that are in “increasingly dire conditions,” according to a statement Saturday by the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
The number of the displaced constitutes more than 60% of Gaza’s population of about 2 million people.
OCHA stressed that the electricity blackout and ban on fuel imports into the strip have “devastating consequences” on the health care system and access to clean water.
“Increasing water consumption from unsafe sources elevates the threat of infectious disease outbreaks,” OCHA added.
In a statement earlier on Friday, the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) also warned of the dire conditions in the strip and said that 16 of UNRWA’s staff have lost their lives over the last 12 days.
US President Joe Biden told reporters at the White House Friday that trucks carrying much-needed humanitarian aid should enter Gaza “within the next 24-48 hours.”
The Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza received three evacuation orders on Friday, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Earlier on Friday, the hospital’s administration announced the Israeli army had contacted them, demanding the immediate evacuation of the hospital in preparation for a nighttime airstrike.
The Israel Defense Forces called the Palestinian Red Crescent three times between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. local time on Friday, its director general, Marwan Jilani, told CNN on Friday.
“It was the same threat, it was ‘evacuate immediately,’” Jilani added.
Jilani stated the hospital had received evacuation orders in the past, but emphasized the ones on Friday seemed “really serious.”
Al-Quds Hospital currently houses more than 400 patients and approximately 12,000 displaced civilians who have sought refuge there as a safe haven, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Netanyahu says Israel will continue working to return all hostages
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated Israel will continue working to return all hostages following the release of two American hostages who were held by Hamas Friday.
“Two of our hostages are home. We will not ease the effort to bring back all abductees and those missing. Simultaneously, we keep fighting until a victory is reached,” Netanyahu said in a statement posted to social media on Friday.
Hamas says they are working with mediators to release foreign national hostages
Hamas issued a statement shortly after the release of two American hostages Friday, saying they are working with mediators in Egypt, Qatar and other “friendly countries”
“This commitment remains resolute as we endeavor to enact our decision to release individuals of foreign nationalities under temporary custody, as and when security circumstances permit,” the statement added.
Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Daniel Hagari has announced Friday that the two released American hostages, Judith and Natalie Rannan, are now in the care of the IDF.
IDF will continue fight against Hamas and is preparing for next stages: Spokesperson
The Israel Defense Forces are preparing for the “next stages” in the fight against Hamas as the conflict continues, IDF spokesperson Daniel Hagari stated Friday.
“The top priority of the country is to return all the abductees and locating the missing, in all possible ways: civil, intelligence and military,” Hagari said during a news conference in Tel Aviv.
“At the same time, we are continuing the war against the Hamas. And getting ready for the next stages of the war. As we speak, the crossings are closed and no equipment (aid) is getting into the (Gaza) Strip,” he continued.
Hagari’s response came after he was asked a question about further negotiations on the release of hostages, noting the IDF is making a “great effort and prioritizing the return of all the hostages.”
Palestinian prime minister criticizes Israel for telling over 1 million in northern Gaza to evacuate
Israel telling more than a million Palestinians to evacuate out of Gaza was “designed to end the question of the Palestinian right to return of the Palestinian refugees,” Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told CNN’s Becky Anderson.
“If that is going to happen in Egypt, then who will prevent the Israelis from pushing us here in the West Bank to be forcefully transferred to Jordan? And that is where the issue of transfer is such a concern because it is a national security issue for Egypt. It’s a national security issue for Jordan, but it is an existential issue for us the Palestinians,” Shtayyeh said in a sit-down interview with CNN in Ramallah on Friday.
Last week, Israel’s military told 1.1 million people in northern Gaza to evacuate their homes immediately, as it appeared to prepare to ramp up fighting against Hamas — which the United Nations and several humanitarian groups sharply criticized.
When asked if there was a possibility that the Palestinian Authority (PA) might take over governing Gaza if Israel succeeds in destroying Hamas, Shtayyeh stated: “We will not go to Gaza on an Israeli tank,” meaning they did not want Israel’s war on Hamas to be the PA’s path to leadership in Gaza.
Shtayyeh also added there needs to be a comprehensive solution to the Palestinian issue in both Gaza and the West Bank, and that a piecemeal approach would not work.
“A solution for Gaza is not going to take us anywhere. A solution in the West Bank alone is not going to take us anywhere,” he said.
“So what we want is a comprehensive solution that ends occupation.”
“We’re not looking for improving life conditions under occupation,” Shtayyeh continued, adding, “We are looking for a sovereign, independent, contiguous, viable state of Palestine on the borders of 1967 with Jerusalem as its capital, including the rest of the Palestinian territory in the West Bank.”
More Americans are still being held by Hamas: US official
A US official confirms that there are more American hostages still being held by Hamas, following the release of two Americans Friday.
President Joe Biden said in a statement Friday that the US has “not ceased our efforts to secure the release of those who are still being held”. That, the official said, was indeed a reference to the fact that there are additional American hostages.
US officials have never given a firm number of American hostages – only that they believe there are a “handful.”
Lebanon calls on Israel to declare a 48-hour ceasefire: FM
Lebanese Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib asked Israel to declare a 48-hour ceasefire, telling CNN “then we will know exactly who is starting what.”
Habib told CNN’s Poppy Harlow Friday that his country is very worried that the war could spread into the region.
“Really we don’t want war. The government does not want war. We are dialoguing with the various groups. But it is uncontrollable because it depends all on what happened in Gaza,” Bou Habib said.
While Israel prepares for the next stage of the war with Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah has been exchanging fire with Israeli forces across the border in northern Israel and southern Lebanon.
Earlier on Friday, Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told CNN, “The government of Lebanon, anything that happens from their sovereign territory, they need to — they are responsible for, and they will be held accountable for. This is a sovereign state. It has control over its borders. They have the responsibility to make sure that terrorists like Hezbollah, a terrorist army, do not launch attacks against Israel.”
In response to Lerner’s comments, Bou Habib said Israel is “making it worse by their talk.”
“Let’s call for a ceasefire and see what happens. Instead of threatening,” he added.
When Harlow asked Habib if his government has control over Hezbollah, he said, “The people are interrelated here, politically and even blood-wise. So, we cannot hold them from doing some revenge if really the situation in Gaza is going to be worse than what it is now.”
“They (Hezbollah) do not want a war. But I mean, you can’t control it. It all depends, again, on what happens in Gaza, on the invasion of Israel to Gaza,” he added.
Number of French citizens killed in Hamas attacks rises to 30
At least 30 French citizens have been killed following the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7, the French foreign ministry said Friday.
Seven French citizens are still missing, according to the ministry, which announced that “some” of these people are hostages in Gaza without providing further details.
“We are doing everything we can to secure their release,” the ministry added.
About 100,000 civilians have been evacuated from their homes: Israel
About 100,000 civilians have been evacuated from their homes so far in northern and southern Israel, according to the Israeli Ministry of Defense.
These evacuations include short-term leave, the ministry said, but it did not specify a time frame.
The evacuation of the city of Kiryat Shmona — which is not mandatory — is not included in that number, but would bump up the total number of evacuations to around 123,000 civilians, the ministry added.
7 Gaza hospitals are “out of service”: Palestinian Ministry of Health
Seven hospitals and 21 primary care health centers in Gaza are “out of service,” and 64 medical staff have been killed as Israel continues its airstrikes, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Ministry of Health said Friday.
“Due to the Israeli violations, seven hospitals are out of service and 21 Primary Health care centers as well. 64 medical staff were killed and 23 ambulances were destroyed,” stated the health ministry spokesperson Dr. Ashraf Al-Qidra.
On Thursday, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced in a statement that more than 60% of primary care facilities are shut down, and hospitals in Gaza are on the brink of collapse due to the shortage of power, medicine, equipment and specialized personnel.
UN human rights group calls for “rapid and unimpeded passage” of humanitarian aid for all civilians
The office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a statement Friday implored all parties “to allow the rapid and unimpeded passage of humanitarian relief for all civilians in need, wherever they are.”
A spokesperson for the human rights group expressed concern about continuing Israeli strikes across Gaza, including in the south.
“Strikes, coupled with extremely difficult living conditions in the south, appear to have pushed some to return to the north, despite the continuing heavy bombing there,” the statement said.
It also expressed concern about the rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel and the alarm at the “rapidly deteriorating human rights situation in the occupied West Bank and the increase in unlawful use of lethal force.”
Citing reports of ill-treatment and lack of due process, it called for the end of “arbitrary arrests of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Arab Israelis in Israel.”
Shortages in Gaza “are going to kill many, many people: Head of Doctors Without Borders
Utility shortages in Gaza “are going to kill many, many people,” said Avril Benoît, executive director of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) also known as Doctors Without Borders.
Benoît told CNN that it often loses contact with its team in the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza due to lack of electricity, inability to charge phones and cell signal often being cut out, making it “difficult to get real-time information.”
“What we do know is our medical coordinator was warning that the fuel was reaching catastrophic lows,” she said.
Benoît added that there is a lack of painkillers, something which she said has “been going on for quite a time.”
“There’s a real shortage of anesthesia. And again, those surgical teams are going to have to ration. They are going to have to choose who gets it and who doesn’t, who gets the lifesaving surgery, who doesn’t,” she continued.
People in Gaza are “exhausted, including the medical teams who have been working around the clock,” Benoît said.
“Everyone is dehydrated, malnourished, hungry,” she stated, noting, “It’s really a difficult circumstance in which to be able to even focus on a mass casualty response that’s needed.”
“It’s absolutely life or death at this point. Hour by hour it’s essential for that humanitarian assistance to be brought in,” Benoît continued, adding, “We are deeply concerned for the fate of everyone who happens to be in Gaza right now, where nowhere is safe.”