First Evacuees Leave Gaza as Israeli Offensive Intensifies

By Reuters
November 1, 2023Israel–Hamas War
First Evacuees Leave Gaza as Israeli Offensive Intensifies
Palestinians with dual citizenship walk at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the hope of getting permission to leave Gaza, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, on Nov. 1, 2023. (Arafat Barbakh/Reuters)

GAZA/JERUSALEM—A first group of injured evacuees from Gaza crossed into Egypt on Wednesday under a Qatari-mediated deal, Egyptian media said, as Israeli forces pressed their battle against Hamas terrorists in the Palestinian enclave.

The evacuees were driven in ambulances through the Rafah border crossing. Under the deal reached between Egypt, Israel, and Hamas, a number of foreigners and critically wounded people will be allowed to leave the besieged territory.

The evacuation followed another day of bloodshed in Gaza in which an Israeli air strike on Tuesday killed about 50 people in a refugee camp, according to Palestinian health officials.

Israel said the attack killed a senior Hamas commander and many other combatants.

Israel sent its forces into Hamas-controlled Gaza following weeks of air and artillery bombardments in retaliation for a deadly attack by the Islamist group on southern Israel on Oct 7.

Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas. But the civilian death toll in Gaza and the desperate humanitarian conditions have caused great concern across the world as food, fuel, drinking water, and medicine run short and hospitals struggle to treat casualties.

The Hamas attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7 killed about 300 soldiers and some 1,100 civilians, Israeli figures say.

At least 8,525 Palestinians, including 3,542 children, were killed in retaliatory Israeli strikes on Gaza since Oct.7, the Gaza health ministry says.

Refugee Camp Hit

The Israeli military said Tuesday’s strikes on Jabalia, Gaza’s largest refugee camp, had killed Ibrahim Biari, a Hamas commander it said was pivotal in organizing the Oct. 7 assault, as well as dozens of Hamas terrorists.

Palestinian health officials said at least 50 Palestinians were killed and 150 wounded, while a Hamas statement said there were 400 dead and injured in Jabalia, which houses families of refugees from wars with Israel dating back to 1948.

Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades said seven civilian hostages were killed in the Jabalia attack, including three foreign passport holders. There was no comment from Israel on the claim.

Eleven Israeli soldiers were also killed in fighting on Tuesday, the Israeli military said, its biggest one-day loss since the initial assault.

Mr. Netanyahu mourned mounting military losses but said the war would be long but victorious.

“We are in a tough war. It will be a long war,” he said in a statement. “I promise to all citizens of Israel: We will get the job done. We will press ahead until victory.”

After a lull of several hours in rocket fire, the Israeli military sounded sirens in southern communities as well as the port cities of Ashkelon and Ashdod.

NTD Photo
Armoured vehicles of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during their ground operations at a location given as Gaza on Nov. 1, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces/Handout via Reuters)

Power Outage

The din of Israeli war planes, tanks, and naval boats pounding Gaza city and the north continued all through the night. Israeli ground forces clashed with gunmen from Hamas and other groups in the north, southern, and eastern areas of Gaza—part of a series of incursions apparently aimed at incremental gains rather than a full-scale invasion.

Communications and internet services were completely cut off in Gaza again on Wednesday, telecommunications provider Paltel said.

Dozens of Palestinians gathered outside the Nasser Hospital morgue waiting to get the bodies of their relatives for burial.

Health officials said they had received 15 bodies of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes overnight in Khan Younis, including four children.

Two of Gaza’s main hospitals—Al Shifa Medical and the Indonesian Hospital—faced a power outage as their generators rapidly run out of fuel.

Israel sees Hamas, which has vowed to destroy the Jewish state, as an existential threat.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who will visit Israel on Friday, said the United States and other countries were looking at “a variety of possible permutations” for the future of Gaza if Hamas terrorists are removed from control.

Iran supports Hamas, as well as several other terrorist groups in the region, and the conflict in Gaza has triggered fears of a wider escalation.

On Wednesday, the Israeli military said it had deployed missile boats in the Red Sea, following long-range drone and missile attacks claimed by the Houthis in Yemen.

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