U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken (L) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netenyahu (R) in Tel Aviv, Israel on November 03, 2023.
Amos Ben-Gershom | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Israel continues to reject U.S. calls for a pause in the fighting to allow more aid into Gaza, saying there would be no temporary cease-fire until an estimated 240 hostages held by militant group Hamas are released.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday with the U.S.’ top diplomat reiterating President Joe Biden’s calls for a brief halt in the fighting to address the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip.
More than 9,200 people have been killed in Gaza since the conflict began, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza, which is run by Hamas. Israel said that over 1,400 Israelis have been killed — the majority in the Hamas terror attack on Oct. 7.
Blinken is expected to meet with leaders and officials of Arab nations Saturday, including Jordan’s King Abdullah II.
— Holly Ellyatt
The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) warned Friday that even a UN flag cannot provide safety or protection to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians trapped in the Gaza Strip.
“Let’s be very clear, there is no place that is safe in Gaza right now,” Thomas White, the director of UNRWA affairs, said on Friday, describing the enclave as “a scene of death and destruction.”
A view of destroyed area after the Israeli attacks on the Nasirat Refugee Camp that continues on its 28th day in Gaza City, Gaza on November 3, 2023.
Doaa Albaz | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
Although people are sheltering under the UN flag, “the reality is we cannot even provide them safety under a UN flag,” he said, speaking from the UN agency’s Rafah logistics base.
“We’ve had over 50 of our facilities that have been impacted by the conflict, including five direct hits. I think at last count 38 people have died in our shelters. I fear that with the fighting going on in the north right now, that number is going to grow significantly,” he added.
UNRWA, the UN agency assisting Palestinian refugees, said Friday that more than 1.5 million people are now displaced and nearly 600,000 are crowded in shelters run by the agency.
UNRWA has itself lost 72 staff members during the conflict. White believed this marked the highest loss ever of UN staff in conflict.
— Holly Ellyatt
Israel on Friday deported thousands of Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip back to the besieged territory, Palestinian authorities said, capping what many described as harrowing weeks trapped in legal limbo since their detention when the Israel-Hamas war erupted.
Some workers, streaming by foot through an Israeli crossing that had been sealed shut since Hamas unleashed its brutal attack on southern Israel Oct. 7, told of violent mistreatment by Israeli authorities in detention centers. The Israeli military did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the allegations.
“We sacrificed and they treated us like livestock over there,” one of the workers, Wael al-Sajda, said from the border, pointing to his ankle fitted with an identification bracelet.
Al-Sajda was among the roughly 18,000 Palestinians from Gaza allowed to work in menial jobs in Israel. The permits have been coveted in Gaza, which has an unemployment rate approaching 50%. Israel began issuing the permits in recent years, a measure it thought helped stabilize Gaza and moderate Hamas, despite a broader blockade aimed at weakening the Islamic militant group.
Late Thursday, Israel announced it was revoking the workers’ permits and would deport them.
— Associated Press
The humanitarian group Palestine Red Crescent Society said it received 47 humanitarian aid trucks Friday from the Egyptian Red Crescent across the Rafah border crossing.
The trucks delivered water, blankets, medical supplies, food, tents and mattresses. The group said that it has so far received 421 trucks, but noted fuel is still not allowed into Gaza.
— Christine Wang
Egypt received and treated 17 injured Palestinians, out of the 28 who were expected to arrive, a spokesman for the Egyptian Ministry of Health told NBC News.
In its summary of the third day of entry for injured and foreign nationals, the ministry said 11 of the expected, injured Palestinians did not arrive due to unspecified “events in Gaza.”
Egypt said it conducted medical exams on 448 foreign nationals received, including 96 children who received vaccines.
— Christine Wang, NBC News
Women, children and newborns have been disproportionately affected by the conflict in the Gaza Strip, both as casualties and in reduced access to health care, U.N. agencies warned.
As of Friday, at least 2,300 women and 3,700 children have been killed in the territory accounting for 67% of all casualties while thousands more have been injured, the statement said, citing health ministry data.
The joint statement was issued by the World Health Organization, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).
The agencies warned that bombardments have further reduced health-care access in Gaza and could lead to more deaths. They estimated that over half of the population in Gaza is now sheltering at UNRWA facilities with limited water and food supplies.
“An immediate humanitarian pause is needed to alleviate the suffering and prevent a desperate situation from becoming catastrophic,” the agencies said.
— Christine Wang
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken disembarks at the airport during his visit to Jordan after arriving from Israel, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Amman, Jordan November 3, 2023.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has arrived in Jordan to continue his latest diplomatic mission to increase humanitarian aid deliveries into Gaza and prevent Palestinian civilian casualties as Israel intensifies its war against Hamas.
Blinken, whose call for Israel to temporarily pause some military operations to allow assistance in and foreign nationals out appeared to be rejected by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after they met in Tel Aviv earlier Friday, will meet Jordan’s King Abdullah II and the foreign ministers of Jordan and perhaps other Arab nations on Saturday.
Earlier this week, Jordan recalled its ambassador to Israel and told Israel’s envoy not to return to Amman at least until conditions in Gaza have improved, further complicating Blinken’s efforts.
In addition to aid distribution, allowing foreigners out of Gaza and securing the release of hostages held by Hamas, Blinken is looking to persuade Jordan and other Arab states to begin thinking about the future of Gaza — if and when Israel succeeds at eradicating Hamas.
— Associated Press
People gather around an ambulance damaged in a reported Israeli strike in front of Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City on November 3, 2023, as battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas movement continue.
Momen Al-halabi | AFP | Getty Images
An Israeli air strike on an ambulance being used to evacuate the wounded from besieged northern Gaza killed 15 people and injured 60 others on Friday, the Hamas-controlled enclave’s health ministry said.
Israel’s military said it had identified and hit an ambulance “being used by a Hamas terrorist cell”. It said Hamas fighters were killed in the strike, and accused the group of transferring militants and weapons in ambulances.
Hamas official Izzat El Reshiq said allegations its fighters were present were “baseless”. Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson for Gaza’s health ministry, said the ambulance was part of a convoy that Israel targeted near Gaza City’s al-Shifa Hospital.
Qidra said Israel had targeted the convoy of ambulances in more than one location, including at al-Shifa Hospital gate and at Ansar Square a kilometer (0.6 miles) away.
In a statement on the incident, Israel’s military gave no evidence to support its assertion that the ambulance was linked to Hamas but said it intended to release additional information.
“We emphasize that this area is a battle zone. Civilians in the area are repeatedly called upon to evacuate southwards for their own safety,” the military said.
Reuters was unable to independently verify either side’s account.
Video shared on social media, which Reuters has verified, showed people lying in blood next to an ambulance with flashing lights on a city street as people rushed to help.
Another video showed three ambulances standing in a line, with about a dozen people lying either motionless or barely moving next to them. Blood was pooled nearby.
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a social media post he was “utterly shocked by reports of attacks on ambulances evacuating patients”, adding that patients, health workers and medical facilities must be protected.