Gaza on its last legs: citizens’ assault on food depots. Israel “ready to bomb the hospital in the Strip”. The exchange of prisoners for hostages is being considered

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By John

The Israeli army has increased the number of ground troops in the northern Gaza Strip as part of the expansion of the operation. The media reported it, according to which the troops are operating deeper in the Strip.

The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRCS) reported that Israel has called for the immediate evacuation of the al-Quds hospital in the Gaza Strip, as it is “about to be bombed”: the same association reports it on X, as the Guardian reports at the beginning. “Since this morning there have been raids 50 meters from the hospital,” the message reads.

The Israeli army bombed with “firebombing” areas of southern Lebanon, including the area near the UN base in Naqura, which hosts the headquarters of the UN mission (Unifil), which includes a thousand Italian soldiers. No casualties were recorded among civilians or soldiers. This was reported by Lebanese media quoting the mayor of Naqura, Abbas Awada.

In the last 24 hours – the military spokesman said – there have been over 450 Hamas “terror” targets hitincluding operational command centers, observation posts and anti-tank missile launch sites.” As part of the expansion of ground activities – he continued – “combined combat forces struck terrorist cells attempting to attack soldiers”. Last night an officer and a soldier were injured: apparently the first during this operation.

“Humanitarian efforts in Gaza, led by Egypt and the United States, will be expanded on Sunday.” This was stated by the spokesperson of the Israeli Army, Brigadier General Daniel Hagari, adding that “the inhabitants of Gaza have been warned for more than two weeks, through various means of communication: they must stay away from the outposts belonging to Hamas. This warning comes relaunched: civilians in northern Gaza and Gaza City should temporarily move south to a safer placewhere they can get water, food and medicine.”

Hamas’ health ministry said: more than 8,000 people (half of whom are children) were killed in the Strip since the beginning of the war with Israel. A Palestinian was killed in clashes with the Israeli army in the Askar refugee camp near Nablus in the West Bank. Palestinian medical sources reported this, quoted by the Wafa agency, explaining that the Palestinian (25 years old) “died from a serious chest wound” and that there were also 10 others injured. Accidents and clashes were then reported in Tammun near Nablus and in Jenin in the northern West Bank.

‘Desperate situation’ in Gaza, assault on food

Thousands of people broke into several warehouses and distribution centers of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) in the central and southern areas of the Gaza Strip, carrying away flour and other “basic survival items”: the the organization announced, as reported by the Guardian. One of the depots raided is located in Deir al-Balah, where UNRWA stores supplies from humanitarian convoys coming from Egypt.

“The situation in Gaza is becoming more and more desperate by the hour”: said the UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, during a visit to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Guterres repeated desperate calls for a ceasefire to end the “nightmare” of bloodshed. “I regret that instead of a much-needed humanitarian pause, supported by the international community, Israel has intensified its military operations,” he added.

Telephone and Internet communications in Gaza have gradually returned to work, the Reuters agency writes – as reported by the Ynet website.

The exchange of hostages

Qatari Foreign Ministry spokesman Majed Al-Ansari said the parties involved in the negotiations for the release of the hostages were considering the possibility of a prisoner exchange agreement. According to the spokesperson – quoted by Haaretz – Hamas’ handling of the hostage issue is being conducted in a chaotic manner. “Talks are ongoing with all parties around the clock to ensure we reach an agreement, and we hope we can,” Al-Ansari said, adding that the expansion of Israeli military activity in Gaza makes this difficult. According to him, «despite the expansion of activities, today Netanyahu mentioned mediation talks for an agreement on the release of prisoners. A Hamas spokesperson said a few minutes ago that they are ready for a prisoner exchange. The efforts will ensure that more hostages are released.”

Netanyahu: ‘I made a mistake, I apologize for criticizing the army’

Meanwhile, disagreements have emerged among Israel’s leaders over responsibility for the surprise attack by Hamas on 7 October. “I was wrong. The things I said after the press conference should not have been said and I apologize for that.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wrote this on X after deleting his initial post on social media in which he accused the intelligence and army leaders of not having warned him of Hamas’ plans. “I fully support all the heads of the security services”, as well as “the chief of staff, commanders and soldiers of the army who are at the front and fighting for our country”.

Netanyahu had written on Facebook that he had not been warned either by military intelligence or by the Shin Bet (internal security) about the possibility of war by Hamas. The military radio then replied that he instead received warnings about the possibility of attacks by the Iran-Hezbollah-Hamas axis, which had become “more aggressive” due to the tensions in Israel. The centrist leader Benny Gantz (who is part of the ‘national emergency’ government) defended the military leaders and asked the prime minister to withdraw his statements.