Israel hits ambulance in Gaza, claims vehicle used by Hamas
PM Netanyahu says no halt to fighting unless hostages are freed
GAZA/TEL AVIV/BEIRUT — Israel struck an ambulance near a Gaza hospital on Friday in an attack the military said targeted militants, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls by Washington’s top diplomat for a halt to fighting unless hostages held by Hamas are freed.
Warning Israel and the U.S. of a potential regional war, the leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah said fighting on the Israel-Lebanon frontier could escalate further and hinted his Iran-backed group was ready to confront U.S. warships in the region.
Israel vows to wipe out Hamas
Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, which rules the Palestinian Gaza Strip, after the militant group killed 1,400 people and took more than 240 others hostage in an Oct. 7 assault in southern Israel.
The Israeli military has struck Gaza from the air, imposed a siege and launched a ground assault, stirring global alarm at humanitarian conditions in the enclave. Food is scarce, medical services are collapsing and Gaza health officials say more than 9,250 Palestinians have been killed.
Ashraf al-Qidra, spokesperson for the health ministry in Gaza, said 15 people were killed and 60 wounded when Israel struck an ambulance that was part of a convoy at Gaza’s biggest hospital, al-Shifa.
Ambulance used by Hamas
Israel’s military said it had identified and hit an ambulance “being used by a Hamas terrorist cell” in the battle zone, and that a number of Hamas fighters were killed.
Hamas official Izzat El Reshiq said allegations its fighters were present were “baseless”. The military gave no evidence to support its assertion that the ambulance was linked to Hamas but said in a statement it intended to release additional information.
In a separate incident in Gaza City late on Friday, Gaza health officials said several Palestinians were killed and wounded in an Israeli strike on a school where hundreds of people were taking shelter.
Gaza health officials did not provide figures for the dead and injured. The Israeli military did not immediately provide comment on the incident.
10 Hamas commanders killed
In an evening briefing, Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that so far in the war Israel had killed 10 Hamas commanders responsible for planning the Oct. 7 attack.
“We killed and eliminated them and will continue to eliminate those who lead the combat against our troops, wherever they may be,” Hagari said.
Israel said 25 Israeli soldiers have been killed in fighting in Gaza since the military’s ground operation was expanded a week ago.
‘Continuing full force’
Aid agencies warn a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in the bloodiest episode in decades in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Over half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population is now sheltering in U.N. Palestinian refugee agency facilities, with inadequate water and food, four U.N. agencies said in a joint statement.
On his second visit to the region since Oct. 7, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who met with Netanyahu in Tel Aviv, urged Israel to allow aid to enter Gaza and said Washington provided Israel advice on minimizing civilian deaths.
Speaking at a news conference, Blinken called for a humanitarian pause, saying it would allow for aid to enter Gaza, facilitate the work to secure the release of hostages while enabling Israel to achieve its goal of defeating Hamas.
“A number of legitimate questions were raised in our discussions today including how to use any period of pause to maximize the flow of humanitarian assistance, how to connect the pause to the release of hostages, how to ensure that Hamas doesn’t use these pauses or arrangements to its own advantage,” Blinken told reporters.
No temporary truce without hostages being freed
Speaking shortly after Blinken, Netanyahu in a televised statement rejected the idea.
“I made clear that we are continuing full force and that Israel refuses a temporary ceasefire which does not include the release of our hostages.”
Like Israel, the U.S. has dismissed growing international calls for a ceasefire but has sought to persuade Israel to accept localized pauses.
Jordan said on Friday the kingdom will host on Saturday a meeting between Blinken with his Saudi, Qatari, Emirati and Egyptian counterparts along with the participation of the Palestinians.
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.