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The death toll has exceeded 10,000 since the Israel-Hamas conflict broke out on Oct 7, according to Palestinian and Israeli sources.

13:05 2023-11-24
Truce deal in Gaza enters into force
Israeli military tanks leave Gaza, during the temporary truce between Hamas and Israel, as seen from southern Israel Nov 24, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

CAIRO/GAZA - The first temporary humanitarian truce between Hamas and Israel entered into force at 7:00 am local time (0500 GMT) on Friday in the Gaza Strip.

Confirming the truce agreement had taken effect, Diaa Rashwan, chairman of Egypt's State Information Service (SIS), said in a statement that 130,000 liters of diesel and four trucks of gas from Egypt will enter the Gaza Strip daily.

Some 200 trucks, loaded with food, medicine and water, can enter daily for the first time since the start of the war on Oct 7, he said.

"Some seven fuel trucks have entered the Gaza Strip so far," an anonymous security official source at Rafah crossing told Xinhua, adding that 230 trucks carrying aid and fuel will enter today.

There are about 600 Palestinians stranded on the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, said the source, and some 17 ambulances are waiting to transfer the wounded.

Egypt will continue to receive wounded and injured children from Gaza for treatment in Egyptian hospitals, helping foreigners and dual nationals detained in the Gaza Strip travel to their own countries, the SIS's chairman said.

Rashwan added that the Egyptian side will also allow the entry of Palestinians stranded in the country into the Gaza Strip at their will.

The truce is scheduled to be followed by the release of 13 Israeli detainees in the Gaza Strip at 4:00 pm local time (1400 GMT).

Hamas and Israel reached an agreement earlier this week on a four-day ceasefire in the Gaza Strip. Under the deal, Hamas would release at least 50 hostages from Gaza in exchange for some 150 Palestinian detainees held in Israel.

Israeli troops have been conducting airstrikes and a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip since Oct 7, in retaliation for a surprise attack staged by Hamas.

Israel said the Hamas assault killed about 1,200 people while more than 200 hostages were taken to Gaza. At the same time, the Palestinian death toll from the Israeli strikes in Gaza has reached 14,532 so far, according to the Hamas-run media office in Gaza.

10:08 2023-11-24
Israel, Hamas brace for 1st ceasefire after weeks of bloody conflict
A picture taken from southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip on Nov 20, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA/JERUSALEM - After more than six weeks of bloody conflict, Israel and Hamas are poised to implement the first truce as part of a swap deal, under which Hamas will free some hostages in exchange for some Palestinian prisoners held in Israel.

Under the deal reached on Wednesday under the mediation by Qatar, Egypt and the US, a four-day humanitarian ceasefire will start at 07:00 am local time (0500 GMT) on Friday.

Hamas, formally known as the Islamic Resistance Movement, said in a press statement that it would release about 13 hostages at 04:00 pm on Friday as the first stage of the deal.

Hamas, which has been ruling Gaza since 2007, will hand over the hostages to Egypt. In turn, Israel will release 150 Palestinians, including women and children, from the Israeli jails.

Israel is expected to stop all its military operations in the Gaza Strip as part of the four-day ceasefire. Meanwhile, at least 200 trucks loaded with humanitarian aid and medical supplies, including four fuel trucks, will be allowed into the Gaza Strip, Hamas explained.

The ceasefire will also facilitate the reopening of the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt to allow the return of stranded Palestinians waiting in the Arish area, according to the Palestinian Embassy in Cairo.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office confirmed receiving an "initial list of names" of detainees set for release tomorrow.

The Israeli army said it was ready to implement the ceasefire, but warned Hamas that "even the slightest violation would result in a severe response."

The ceasefire was originally due to start on Thursday but was delayed as the two sides were finalizing the details of hostage release. Meanwhile, Israel continued its airstrikes on various areas of Gaza, resulting in more casualties and injuries.

Palestinian medical sources reported that 10 people were killed in Israeli shelling on a residential building in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood in Gaza City.

The Hamas-run health ministry said that six people, including three children, were killed on Thursday in Israeli strikes targeting two houses in the Shouat area in Rafah, southern Gaza.

In the meantime, the Al-Qassam Brigades, the Hamas military wing, and the Al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement, separately launched mortar shells at Israeli military positions inside and on the outskirts of Gaza.

The upcoming Israel-Hamas ceasefire will mark the first cessation of hostilities between both sides since Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel on Oct 7, during which 1,200 people were killed and over 200 hostages were taken to Gaza by Hamas militants. Israel retaliated by launching relentless airstrikes and a ground offensive in Gaza, which have killed over 14,000 Palestinians so far.

23:12 2023-11-23
Qatar says Gaza truce to take effect early Friday
Smoke rises after an explosion in north Gaza as seen from southern Israel on Nov 23, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

DOHA -- The Qatari Foreign Ministry announced Thursday that a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip would officially take place at 7 am local time (0500 GMT) on Friday.

14:44 2023-11-23
China urges global efforts for two-state solution
By MINLU ZHANG at the United Nations
Palestinians search for casualties at the site of Israeli strikes on a house in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip Nov 22, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

China's top envoy to the United Nations on Wednesday called on international communities to increase efforts in advancing the political prospects of the two-state solution of the Palestinian question.

Any solution to the current situation must not deviate from the two-state solution and should be conducive to regional peace and stability, Zhang Jun, China's permanent representative to the UN, said at a Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question.

"Any arrangement on the future and destiny of Palestine must seek the consent of the Palestinian people and address the legitimate concerns of the countries of the region," Zhang emphasized.

"The United Nations should continue to play an active role in building international consensus and promoting the peace process. The Security Council should be ready to take responsible and meaningful action on the situation in Palestine and Israel to ensure that it stands the test of history and conscience," Zhang said.

The UNSC Resolution 2712, adopted in mid-November, called for humanitarian pauses and corridors in Gaza to allow relief supplies, Zhang went on to say that it, "represents an important initial step toward a ceasefire and de-escalation of the situation".

The resolution must be fully and immediately implemented in order to achieve a durable ceasefire and avoid further humanitarian catastrophe, Zhang said, calling Israel to cease its military operations against civilian facilities, such as hospitals and schools, and curb the growing settler violence in the West Bank.

"We support further diplomatic efforts to facilitate the early release of more detainees, in the hope that this will open up political space for dialogue and consultation and the resumption of peace," he said.

Zhang said China strongly condemns the clear violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza and opposes any collective punishment of Palestinian civilians, forced displacement and forced transfer.

"We urge Israel to lift the blockade of Gaza as soon as possible and to fully restore the supply of basic goods such as water, electricity and fuel. We call for the urgent opening of more relief corridors to Gaza and for the full utilization of border crossings…to ensure the unimpeded and efficient entry of sufficient humanitarian supplies into Gaza from all directions," said Zhang, adding that China supports further action by the Security Council on this issue on the basis of Resolution 2712.

China has been making unremitting efforts to restore peace, said Zhang.

President Xi Jinping on Tuesday attended the BRICS extraordinary virtual summit on the Palestinian-Israeli issue, which was also the first summit since the expansion of BRICS, calling for justice and peace.

On the meeting, leaders jointly called on the international community to support a just solution to the Palestinian issue and to promote the realization of the two-state solution, said Zhang.

In addition, a delegation of Arab and Islamic foreign ministers came to Beijing on Monday to coordinate with China to promote the current Palestinian conflict of cooling down, protecting civilians, and impartially solving the Palestinian issue.

On Monday, WHO told reporters that 21 out of 24 hospitals in Wadi Gaza, located north of the besieged Gaza Strip, are now "completely non-functional". This situation has arisen due to escalated conflict, with ambulances coming under fire, hospitals overwhelmed with a surge of critical patients and a growing number of casualties, Time Magazine reported.

At least 14,500 Palestinians have been killed, including around 6,000 children and 4,000 women, since the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel conflict on Oct 7, according to the Hamas-run government media office.

07:13 2023-11-23
Hopes rise over cease-fire deal in Gaza
By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong and CHEN YINGQUN in Beijing
Smoke rises as the Palestinian-Israeli conflict continues, as seen from Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, Nov 22, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Brief truce between Israel, Hamas seen as opportunity for peace talks

Israel and Hamas have reached a Qatar-mediated agreement to cease fire in the Gaza Strip for four days, which offers an opportunity for peace talks being widely pushed by the global community, analysts said.

The temporary truce, which will be accompanied by the release of some hostages held by the militant group in return for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel, marks the biggest diplomatic breakthrough since the Oct 7 Hamas attack on Israel reignited the Palestine-Israel conflict.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel will free 150 Palestinian women and teens and allow more humanitarian aid to enter Gaza in return for 50 hostages, mostly women and children.

China has welcomed the pause in fighting and said it hopes this will help alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, de-escalate the conflict and ease tensions in the region.

Since this round of conflict started, China has been calling for a cease-fire, and working relentlessly to de-escalate the situation, protect civilians and provide humanitarian assistance, said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning.

Hamas gunmen captured around 240 people when they rampaged through southern Israeli towns on Oct 7. Four hostages have been released so far, while at least 14,400 Palestinians, including women and children, have been killed in the nearly seven-week-long conflict.

According to the deal brokered by Qatar, 50 hostages will be released in small groups over four days, during which there will be a full pause in the fighting. The release of every 10 hostages thereafter will result in one additional day of truce.

Umer Karim, an associate fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, told China Daily that the hostage issue "is becoming a real political burden "for Netanyahu.

"It (the cease-fire deal) shows that his military campaign in Gaza still hasn't given him the political leverage he needs right now domestically and, therefore, he needs some development on the hostage issue," Karim said.

Netanyahu has agreed on a temporary truce to also "slow down the general momentum against Israel right now in the form of protests and demonstrations", which is "putting some pressure on Western governments to change their stance on the matter", Karim added.

Yu Guoqing, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences' Institute of West Asia and African Studies, said the Israeli government agreed to the brief cease-fire largely because it is under pressure at home and abroad.

The Netanyahu government is under immense domestic pressure due to Israeli casualties in the conflict and the fact that hostages held by Hamas have not been released even a month and a half later, Yu said.

Israel had received a wave of sympathy after it was attacked by Hamas, but its image in the international community changed somewhat following the continuous disclosure of the large number of civilian casualties caused by its military operation in Gaza, especially its attacks on hospitals and schools.

"The international community has already tried to restrain Israel's military action through the multilateral framework of the United Nations. Global calls for a cease-fire actually played an important role in this brief ceasefire agreement," Yu said.

China has also played an important role as it actively advocated for a cessation of hostilities and a cease-fire in Gaza, and consistently worked toward realizing lasting peace and sustainable security in the Middle East, the researcher said.

However, the Israeli government still believes its aim of completely defeating Hamas has not been achieved yet, and the brief cease-fire could be an opportunity to replenish its supply of troops and weapons and to see if Hamas is abiding by the agreement, Yu added.

Ayman Yousef, a professor of international relations at the Arab American University in Jenin in the West Bank, said the global community should put some pressure on the United States to exert influence on Israel to end the conflict, which "is the logic at this stage" and "a matter of directly influencing events in the region".

Haydar Oruc, a Middle East analyst and former researcher at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies in Turkiye, said the cease-fire decision, which came after 46 days of violence, could create a basis for a lasting truce in the region.

"If the US provides sincere support and puts pressure on the Netanyahu government, it will be possible to end the Israeli strikes on Gaza," he said.

Wang Qingyun in Beijing and Xinhua contributed to this story.


19:04 2023-11-22
Ceasefire in Gaza starts at 10:00 am local time Thursday: Hamas official
Palestinians search for casualties at the site of Israeli strikes on a house in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip Nov 22, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

Ceasefire in Gaza starts at 10:00 am local time Thursday: Hamas official

10:53 2023-11-22
Palestinian death toll in Gaza surpasses 14,000
Smoke rises after Israeli air strikes in Gaza, as seen from southern Israel, Nov 21, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA - The Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip has surpassed 14,000 since the current Israel-Hamas conflict broke out on Oct 7, the Hamas-run government media office said Tuesday.

Ismail al-Thawabta, director general of the media office, said at a press conference that among the dead were 5,840 children and 3,920 women, while more than 33,000 others were injured.

Al-Thawabta said the number of missing persons has surpassed 6,800, including 4,500 children and women under the rubble of buildings destroyed in Israeli attacks.

Israel has been carrying out attacks on Gaza over the past weeks to retaliate against the Hamas surprise attack on southern Israel on Oct 7, during which Hamas militants killed about 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostages.

10:22 2023-11-22
Israel, Hamas confirm deal on releasing hostages, ceasefire
People are seen among the rubble of buildings destroyed in an Israeli airstrike in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on Nov 15, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

JERUSALEM/GAZA/DOHA - Israel and Hamas on Wednesday confirmed their agreement on a Qatar-mediated proposal for a ceasefire in Gaza.

In exchange for Hamas to release hostages, the Israeli side agreed to release Palestinian prisoners and allow more humanitarian aid to enter the besieged enclave, said the Israeli government in a statement.

Under the deal, at least 50 hostages, mainly children and women, would be freed for the release of about 150 female and teen Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons, said the statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office.

The hostages will be released in smaller groups over a span of four days, during which "there will be a full ceasefire in the fighting", it said.

Israel is pressing for freeing more children. The ceasefire would be extended for an extra day for every additional 10 hostages released by Hamas, it said.

Hamas confirmed the four-day ceasefire agreement with Israel on Wednesday under a Qatari-Egyptian mediation after 46 days of bloody conflict in the besieged coastal enclave.

"After complex negotiations, we have reached a humanitarian ceasefire with Israel. It will include the stop of all military operations in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli army will stop all movement of its military vehicles in all the territories in Gaza," Hamas said in a press statement.

In addition to exchanging hostages, hundreds of trucks loaded with humanitarian aid, medicine, and fuel will be allowed to enter all areas of Gaza, it said.

During the ceasefire, Israeli drones will stop operation for four days in southern Gaza, and stop working in the north for six hours a day starting from 10:00 am (0400 GMT) until 16:00 pm (1000 GMT), it added.

Moreover, the Israeli army will allow the residents to move freely from northern Gaza to the southern territories, Hamas said.

Later in the day, the Qatari Foreign Ministry confirmed the ceasefire agreement, which was jointly mediated by Qatar, Egypt and the United States, adding that the starting time of the pause will be announced within the next 24 hours.

Qatar reaffirmed its commitment to de-escalating tensions, preventing bloodshed, and protecting civilians through diplomatic efforts.

Since the new round of Palestinian-Israeli conflict erupted on Oct 7, Qatar has been making efforts to mediate between the warring parties, secure the release of hostages held by Hamas, and de-escalate the situation in Gaza.

09:39 2023-11-22
Israeli gov't accepts deal for Gaza ceasefire

JERUSALEM - Israel accepted a Qatar-mediated proposal on Wednesday for a ceasefire in Gaza, the release of Palestinian prisoners and the entry of more humanitarian aid to the besieged enclave in exchange for Hamas to release hostages, Israel's state-owned Kan TV reported.

13:30 2023-11-21
Ceasefire to be announced in coming hours
A man checks the rubble of buildings destroyed in an Israeli military operation in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis Nov 17, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

GAZA -- A Hamas official said Tuesday that a ceasefire agreement with Israel will be announced in the coming hours in Qatar.

The official, who requested to remain anonymous, told Xinhua, "We are close to reaching an agreement in the coming hours, and the movement has delivered its response to the mediators."

Another Hamas source said, "The agreement will be announced in Qatar, and it may be soon, and its success is linked to the commitment of the Israeli side."

The ceasefire deal, said the sources, will last for five days and includes the release of 50 civilians and foreign nationals held by Hamas in exchange for the release of 300 Palestinian detainees, including children and women, held by Israel.

The deal also includes the entry of 300 trucks of food, medical and fuel aid into the Gaza Strip.

The sources indicated that the release of prisoners will take place in stages, at a rate of 10 Israeli prisoners per day compared with that of 30 Palestinian prisoners.

05:10 2023-11-20
Palestinian death toll in Gaza surpasses 13,000
People demonstrate in support of Palestinians in front of the White House in Washington  DC, on Nov 19, 2023.[Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- Gaza's government media office announced on Sunday that the Palestinian death toll in the Gaza Strip has exceeded 13,000 since the Israel-Hamas conflict erupted on Oct 7.

Ismail al-Thawabta, the director general of the media office, said at a press conference that among the dead were 5,500 children and 3,500 women, while more than 30,000 others were variously injured.

Al-Thawabta said the number of missing persons has surpassed 6,000, including 4,000 children and women still under the rubble of buildings destroyed by Israeli attacks.

Israel has been carrying out attacks on Gaza over the past weeks to retaliate against the Hamas surprise attack on southern Israel on Oct 7, during which Hamas militants killed about 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostages.

18:52 2023-11-18
Israel demands evacuation of Al-Shifa Hospital within one hour
FILE PHOTO: A makeshift operating theater area is seen inside Al-Shifa hospital during Israel's ground operation around the hospital, in Gaza City Nov 12, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- The Israeli army has demanded the evacuation of Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City within one hour, Palestine TV reported on Saturday morning.

Sources in the hospital told Xinhua there is now a severe state of panic and fear in the hospital.

"We will not leave the hospital unless we do so with the patients," the sources cited medical personnel in the hospital.

The Israeli army on Saturday asked the Palestinian medical staff, displaced people and patients to evacuate Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, according to medical sources.

The sources said the hospital administration decided not to leave the premises until all patients are safely evacuated.

Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesperson of the Palestinian health ministry, said in a statement Saturday that the humanitarian situation in the Al-Shifa complex for eight days has been "catastrophic," and there is not even a piece of bread or any food or water supply.

Since Friday, "at least 51 of the Palestinian patients in Al-Shifa Complex, including four premature babies, have died," Al-Qedra added.

Currently, about 1,500 medical staff, hundreds of patients and 7,000 displaced people are facing death in the Al-Shifa complex after Israeli vehicles destroyed the infrastructure, water wells and the oxygen network. Staff are unable to bury the dead, and waste is piling up in the complex, he said.

Al-Qedra said that between 7,000 and 10,000 people are inside the complex.

He called for creating a safe passage to bring in medical supplies, food and fuel, noting that if the situation continues as it is, the death toll could double.

15:06 2023-11-18
About 26 Palestinians killed in Israeli bombardment of Gaza
A Palestinian walks near a destroyed vehicle at the site of an Israeli strike in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip Novr 17, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

GAZA -- About 26 Palestinians, mostly children, were killed in an Israeli bombardment of Khan Younis city in south Gaza early on Saturday, the Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.

The report, citing local sources, said that the Israeli aircraft launched several raids on apartments in Khan Younis, which led to the deaths of 26 citizens, most of them children, and dozens of injuries.

The Israeli army did not immediately comment on the report.

23:43 2023-11-15
Gaza to lose all communications, internet services soon
Smoke rises above Gaza, as seen from southern Israel, amid the ongoing Palestine-Israelconflict, Nov 15, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA -- Paltel warned Wednesday noon that the Gaza Strip could lose all communications and internet services in a few hours as fuel is running out in the besieged enclave.

Paltel, short for the Palestinian Telecommunications Company, Gaza's largest telecoms provider, said in a statement that facilities powering its network are running on backup energy, meaning services could come to a halt anytime in the upcoming hours.

Palestinian Minister of Communications and Information Technology Ishaq Sadr said that all the network services would be terminated by Thursday if the fuel supply was not resumed.

Israel has launched a large-scale military operation in Gaza after Hamas, a Palestinian faction that de facto governs the enclave, launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on Oct 7 and killed some 1,200 Israelis.

Furthermore, Israel has imposed a comprehensive blockade on Gaza, including cutting off electricity, water, and fuel supplies, causing a widespread humanitarian crisis.

09:40 2023-11-15
Israeli forces raid Gaza's largest hospital to search for militants
A picture shows a view of the exterior of Al-Shifa Hospital on Nov 10, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

GAZA - Dozens of the Israeli army forces on Wednesday carried out a raid at Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza City amid heavy gunfire, according to a senior medical official.

In a press statement sent to Xinhua, Monir al-Bursh, director-general of the pharmaceutical department at the Gaza Health Ministry, said that "the Israeli army officially informed the hospital in a phone call that the raid was being carried out, demanding that people not approach windows, balconies or doors".

For its part, the Israeli army said that it was carrying out a precise operation against Hamas in a specific area inside Al-Shifa Hospital based on intelligence information and an operational need.

Ashraf al-Qedra, the spokesman of the health ministry, said, "There is nothing that would require shooting inside the hospital because there is no form of resistance there, and what the occupation is doing constitutes terrorism for those in the complex."

About 1,500 staff members and 7,000 displaced people are currently stuck in the hospital, depending on capacity, according to al-Qedra.

Israeli tanks surrounded several hospitals in Gaza City over the past few days, claiming that they contain tunnels that constitute a base used by Hamas to shelter its leadership in addition to leading military operations against the Israeli army.

Both Hamas and the health ministry in Gaza denied Israel's accusations, considering them "an attempt to mislead and incite in preparation for the destruction of hospitals and the killing of patients".

00:22 2023-11-15
7 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli army in West Bank: ministry
Israeli army vehicles operate during an Israeli raid, in Tulkarm, West Bank Nov 14, 2023. [Photo/Agencies]

RAMALLAH -- At least seven Palestinians were killed on Tuesday in clashes with Israeli soldiers in northern West Bank, according to the Ramallah-based Palestinian Health Ministry.

The clashes occurred when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was conducting a massive manhunt for Palestinian suspects in the Tulkarm refugee camp, local eyewitnesses told Xinhua.

The IDF said in a statement that its troops clashed with "local terror operatives" and responded with a drone attack at armed Palestinians who were hurling explosives at them.

At least 196 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli gunfire in the West Bank since a new round of Israeli-Palestinian conflict broke out on Oct 7, according to WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency.

09:19 2023-11-14
Hamas says ready to release 50 hostages in Gaza for 5-day cease-fire
People walk past the rubble of buildings destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis on Nov 12, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

GAZA - Al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said on Monday that it has informed mediators of its readiness to release 50 women and children hostages held in Gaza in exchange for a 5-day cease-fire.

Abu Ubaida, the spokesperson for Al-Qassam Brigades, said in a message on its Telegram channel that "Qatari mediators have made efforts to release Israeli detainees in exchange for releasing 200 Palestinian children and 75 women."

He stressed that the cease-fire should ensure a halt to hostilities and allow aid entry to people in the enclave.

He emphasized that the continued Israeli ground, naval, and aerial aggression threatens the lives of the detainees held by them and by other armed Palestinian factions in Gaza.

The Israeli military operations came in retaliation for the Hamas-led attacks on Oct 7, in which about 1,200 people were killed in Israel and about 240 hostages were taken, according to Israeli figures.

10:31 2023-11-13
Protests in Europe demand cease-fire
By CHEN WEIHUA in Brussels
People take part in a demonstration in Brussels, Belgium, Nov 11, 2023, calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza Strip. [Photo/Xinhua]

Massive protests calling for an immediate cease-fire were staged in Brussels and many other European cities on Saturday against Israeli military operations in Gaza that have triggered a humanitarian crisis.

An estimated 21,000 people turned out in Brussels despite rain, marching from the city's North Station to the Central Station, according to initial statistics by the local police.

"Cease-fire now!", "Free Palestine", "Stop the genocide" and "Boycott Israel" were some of the slogans shouted and on banners held by protesters.

Some held banners criticizing US and European Union leaders for their endorsement of Israel's actions and their persistent refusal to call for a cease-fire.

Many demonstrators waved Palestinian flags and wore kaffiyehs, or the black and white scarf symbolizing the Palestinian cause. Some held photos of children killed in Israeli bombings and some carried baby dolls covered in blood.

The organizers said there is "the urgent need to ensure that international law is respected … and demand an immediate cease-fire to save human lives".

"How can we defend the two-state solution while refusing to sanction the occupation and colonization (of Palestine) or refusing to recognize the state of Palestine now?" Simon Moutquin, a Green Party member of the Belgian Parliament, said in a message on X after attending the demonstration.

In London, organizers said 800,000 people took part in Saturday's demonstration and called it one of the largest demonstrations in British history, while the Metropolitan Police put the number at 300,000.

The protesters wanted to pressure British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Labour Party leader Keir Starmer who have not supported the call for a cease-fire.

In Paris, thousands of people marched from the Place de la Republique toward the Place de la Nation on Saturday to demand an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

French President Emmanuel Macron told the BBC on Friday that Israel must stop bombing Gaza and killing civilians, a message that most Western leaders have refused to express.

"De facto, today, civilians are bombed, de facto. These babies, these ladies, these old people are bombed and killed. So there is no reason for that and no legitimacy. So we do urge Israel to stop," Macron said.

"Macron finally uttered the word 'cease-fire' but France must speak with a stronger voice, especially in the UN Security Council in which it is a permanent member," said Mathilde Panot, an MP and leader of La France Insoumise group in parliament.

"France must apply as much pressure possible on Netanyahu's far-right government in order to stop war crimes," she said.

Agencies contributed to this story.

10:06 2023-11-13
Arab, Islamic nations call for end to violence
By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong
Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (second from right) meets Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi (second from left) in Riyadh on Saturday. REUTERS

Summit condemns attacks in Gaza, urging UN to take 'decisive decision'

A rare and special summit of the Arab and Islamic world in the capital of Saudi Arabia has spoken out against alleged Israeli war crimes in the Gaza Strip and called for an end to the military operations and siege of Gaza.

A communique by the Joint Arab Islamic Extraordinary Summit hosted by Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Saturday condemned Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip and the "war crimes" and "brutal massacres being committed by the colonial occupation government against the Strip and the Palestinian people in the occupied West Bank, including East Al-Quds".

Leaders of the Muslim world refused to describe "this retaliatory war as self-defense or justifying it under any pretext". They included Saudi Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo.

In a joint news conference the same day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz rejected growing international calls for a cease-fire, the Times of Israel reported.

Netanyahu said Israel's battle to crush Hamas will continue with "full force".

A cease-fire would be possible only if all 239 hostages held by militants in Gaza were released, Netanyahu said in a televised address.

He also insisted that after the fighting, Gaza would be demilitarized and Israel would retain security control there. Asked what he meant by security control, Netanyahu said Israeli forces must be able to enter Gaza freely to hunt down militants.

The Riyadh joint summit demanded that the UN Security Council take "a decisive and binding decision" that imposes a cessation of aggression and curbs the colonial occupation authority that violates international law, international humanitarian law, and international legitimacy resolutions.

Initially, the meeting on Saturday was expected to be attended by 22 members of the Arab League, but it broadened and included the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, a bloc consisting of 57 Muslim-majority countries.

Rare meeting

At the summit, Raisi became the first Iranian president to visit the Gulf kingdom in years since ties between Saudi Arabia and Iran were restored through a China-brokered deal in March.

Ayman Yousef, a professor of international relations at the Arab American University in Jenin in the West Bank, said the call to persuade other countries not to export weapons to Israel was "something not easy to achieve".

Jasim Husain, a Gulf analyst and former member of Bahrain's parliament, said: "Really not many countries have influence over Israel, with the clear exception of the US."

The US has poured billions of dollars into its support for Israel. Following Hamas attacks on Israel on Oct 7, US President Joe Biden swept in to show support for Israel. The US House of Representatives on Nov 2 passed a bill that would provide $14.3 billion in aid to Israel.

Israeli leaders told the media on Saturday they urged Western leaders to throw their support behind the Jewish state.

Israeli officials revised the death toll in the Oct 7 attack to 1,200 instead of the earlier 1,400, with 240 taken hostage. But Israel's attacks on Gaza have killed more than 11,000 Palestinians, said Palestinian Health Minister Mai Al-Kaila on Saturday.

The Times of Israel reported that the Israel Defense Forces says humanitarian pauses in the northern Gaza Strip will continue to enable Palestinians to head to the south, citing the IDF's Arabic-language spokesman Avichay Adraee.

"What these Arab countries and Muslim countries can do at this stage is they can work to form an alliance, to establish an international alliance to put more weight on the United States to pressure Israel," said Yousef from the West Bank.

Agencies contributed to this story.

09:17 2023-11-13
Collapse of healthcare system adds to Gaza's suffering
Staff workers disinfect temporary shelters in the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis, on Nov 12, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

GAZA - Dozens of Palestinians were killed in the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza in the past 24 hours, amidst a collapse of the healthcare system in the enclave.

The government media office in Gaza on Sunday announced that the casualties from Israeli attacks climbed to 11,180, including nearly 8,000 children and women, with more than 28,000 injuries.

Intense clashes continued between the Israeli army and Hamas fighters in northern Gaza, while milder clashes were reported in the central strip. The Israeli ground forces maintained an effective separation between the north and south, except for the "corridor" leading to the south.

According to the media office, Israeli airstrikes persist around the Al Shifa Medical Complex in Gaza City, which has been out of service since Saturday, jeopardizing life-supporting devices, including those for infants.

The Palestinian Red Crescent warned that Palestinian infants in Gaza are also suffering from dehydration due to the interruption of baby formula under the current siege.

Gaza's health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qedra said at least five casualties died in the past hours as a result of power outages after the hospital ran out of fuel.

Spokesperson of Israel Defence Forces (IDF) Richard Hecht denied targeting or besieging the Al Shifa complex. Israel is still trying to "facilitate and assist" in the evacuation of babies from Al Shifa hospital but Hamas "meddling" is holding it up, he said.

He said that 300 liters of fuel had been delivered by the IDF to the Al Shifa hospital while indicating that Hamas was preventing it from being delivered.

On the release of hostages, two Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) officials denied the group had suspended negotiations with Israel regarding the release of hostages and prisoners.

A Hamas source speaking to Xinhua on condition of anonymity said, "I have not heard of the matter," referring to media reports that the faction is suspending negotiations due to the Israeli targeting of Gaza hospitals.

Separately, Zaher Jabarin, a Hamas official overseeing prisoners affairs told Xinhua that the movement is "open to concluding an agreement regarding the hostages in Gaza if appropriate security and field conditions are available for that".

The Rafah crossing on Saturday witnessed the entry of 53 trucks carrying food, medicine, health supplies, bottled water, and blankets, raising the total number of trucks entering Gaza since Oct 21 to 914, far below the required quantities to meet the needs of over two million people besieged in the enclave, according to the United Nations.

In the past 24 hours, five Israeli soldiers were killed in Gaza, bringing the total number of soldiers killed since the start of ground operations to 43, according to official Israeli sources.

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