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Israel-Hamas war live: Netanyahu says war cabinet ‘working around the clock’ before potential ground invasion; Biden renews call for two-state solution

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Netanyahu: Israel preparing for ground invasion of Gaza

Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas is “doomed” during a televised statement on Wednesday.

Israel’s military are “getting prepared” for the ground invasion with the goal of destroying Hamas’s military and governmental capabilities, the Israeli prime minister said. The country’s war cabinet are “working around the clock” until it reaches victory, he said.

Netanyahu said he would not provide any details about the ground invasion to “secure the lives of our soldiers”. However, he said the timing of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) operation will be “unanimously” determined by Israel’s war cabinet.

Key events

WHO urges Hamas to release all hostages on 'health grounds'

The World Health Organization has reiterated its call for Hamas to release all of the hostages it is holding “on humanitarian and health grounds”.

Hamas must “provide signs of life, proof of provision of health care and the immediate release” of all those abducted from Israel, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a statement.

Many of the hostages, including children, women and the elderly, have pre-existing health conditions requiring urgent and sustained care and treatment. The mental health trauma that the abducted, and the families, are facing is acute and psychosocial support is of great importance.

The UN health agency would do “all we can to support the health and humanitarian needs of those being held captive”, he added.

Al Jazeera has released a statement saying the wife, son and daughter of one of its journalists in Gaza were killed in an Israeli airstrike.

Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent Wael Al-Dahdouh appeared live on air holding the bodies of his family members in a hospital. The outlet said other members of his family are still missing.

The family, who lived in Gaza City, fled Israel’s bombardment to stay with relatives at the Nuseirat refugee camp while Dahdouh stayed behind to continue reporting, the outlet said.

Al Jazeera said:

The indiscriminate assault by the Israeli Occupation forces resulted in the tragic loss of his wife, son, and daughter, while the rest of his family is buried under the rubble. Their home was targeted in the Nuseirat camp in the centre of Gaza, where they had sought refuge after being displaced by the initial bombardment in their neighborhood, following Prime Minister Netanyahu’s call for all civilians to move south.

Al Jazeera is deeply concerned about the safety, and well-being of our colleagues in Gaza and hold the Israeli authorities responsible for their security.

Summary of the day so far

It’s midnight in Gaza City and Tel Aviv. Here’s where things stand:

  • Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s military is “getting prepared” for the ground invasion of Gaza with the goal of destroying Hamas’ military and governmental capabilities. In a televised statement on Wednesday, the Israeli prime minister said his war cabinet is “working around the clock” until it reaches victory.

  • Israel has agreed to a US request to get its air defences to the region before an expected ground invasion of Gaza, according to a report. The Pentagon is working to deploy a dozen air defence systems to the region to protect US troops serving in Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates from missiles and rockets, it said.

  • Relief efforts in Gaza will be forced to stop on Wednesday night unless fuel supplies reach the besieged territory, the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) warned. Hospitals, bakeries and water pumps may also cease to function, compounding a humanitarian crisis that is worsening by the hour, it said. Oxfam accused Israel of using starvation as a weapon of war against Gaza civilians, saying the enclave was receiving just 2% of its usual supply of food.

  • The Gaza health ministry said Israeli airstrikes have killed 6,546 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since 7 October, including 2,704 children. The figure includes 756 people – 344 of whom were children – killed in the last 24 hours. It said 17,439 had been wounded in total. The Guardian has not independently verified these figures.

  • A school sheltering Palestinians in Gaza sustained “severe collateral damage” due to a “close proximity strike”, UNRWA said. One civilian was killed and 44 more were injured, including nine children, it said. The UN says about 1.4 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents are now internally displaced. Nearly half of them have taken refuge in UN shelters, while the other half have found some floor space in other people’s homes, hospitals or public facilities. But that is no guarantee of safety.

  • A Red Cross mission to assess the state of Gaza’s hospitals has described scenes of chaos and exhaustion in the face of a total blockade, a critical fuel shortage and relentless Israeli bombing.

  • The UN secretary general, António Guterres, was locked in a bitter row with Israel, saying he was “shocked” that the Israeli government had misrepresented remarks he had made to the UN to suggest he had justified the Hamas attacks on Israel on 7 October. Israel has called for his resignation and announced that it was withdrawing travel visas for UN officials.

  • Israel has “wholeheartedly” rejected Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s assertion that the Palestinian militant group Hamas was “not a terrorist organisation”. Erdoğan told a group of his party’s MPs on Wednesday that Hamas “is a liberation group, mujahideen, defending their lands.” Erdoğan also announced he had cancelled a planned trip to Israel, saying Benjamin Netanyahu had “misused our goodwill”.

  • The prime minister of Qatar has said he hopes there will soon be a breakthrough in negotiations led by the Gulf state to secure the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, although his government has warned that an Israel invasion could jeopardise those efforts.

  • British prime minister Rishi Sunak has called for pauses to the fighting in Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to safely reach those without food, water or medicine. Sunak in Commons on Wednesday expressly avoided backing the suggestion of a total ceasefire.

Rishi Sunak calls for 'pauses' for aid but not a ceasefire in Gaza – video
  • Joe Biden made a fresh call for two-state solution after, at some point yet to appear on the war-torn horizon, the current Israel-Hamas battle is over, calling for Israelis and Palestinians to work out living in peace together. The US president added that he “did not demand” that Israel delay a ground invasion of Gaza.

  • Emmanuel Macron said he believed it would be an “error” if Israel launched a “massive” ground incursion into Gaza. The French president’s warning came as Macron held talks in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who also urged efforts “to avoid a ground invasion”.

  • Israel’s blockade hollowed out Gaza’s economy and left 80% of its inhabitants dependent on international aid even before the current crisis erupted, the UN has said. It said a “decades-long” blockade had left two-thirds of Gaza’s population living in poverty, while its unemployment rate of 45% was one of the highest in the world.

  • The US has expressed deep disappointment at the UN security council after Russia vetoed its latest draft resolution upholding the right of Israel to “collective self-defence” and for “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid into Gaza.

  • The family of an Al Jazeera journalist has been killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza, according to the news outlet. Al Jazeera Arabic correspondent Wael Dahdouh’s wife, daughter and son are reportedly among his family members who were killed in a strike on a house they were sheltering in.

Ed Pilkington
Ed Pilkington

In a second vote at the UN security council, a draft resolution presented by Russia was also voted down, with Russia being joined by three other members. Two delegations voted against, and nine abstained.

The Russian proposal called for a permanent ceasefire. In a concession from the failed draft put forward by Russia last week, the latest resolution added that it “rejects and condemns the heinous attacks by Hamas”.

The failure of both US and Russian resolutions underlined the deeply divided nature of the world over the Israel-Hamas war. There is speculation that the 10 non-permanent members of the security council might now put forward their own compromise proposal, though they too would face an uphill climb in finding compromise.

The UK’s ambassador to the UN, Barbara Woodward, said she regretted that the US resolution was not adopted. It would have “unequivocally condemned Hamas terrorist attacks” and ensured humanitarian aid reached Gaza.

Ed Pilkington
Ed Pilkington

The US has expressed deep disappointment in the UN security council after Russia vetoed its latest draft resolution upholding the right of Israel to “collective self-defence” and for “humanitarian pauses” to allow aid into Gaza.

Washington’s ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, told the council meeting in New York that she was “deeply disappointed” by the Russian veto. She called the US resolution “strong and balanced” and said it had been forged after extensive consultation with other council members. She said:

Though today’s vote was a setback, we must not be deterred … as we work to build a more peaceful and stable future for Palestinians and Israelis alike.

The US resolution was amended from previous iterations by including a reference to “humanitarian pauses” to provide a space for desperately-needed food and water to be trucked into Gaza. But it did not go far enough for Russia or China; both voted against the draft citing the lack of a ceasefire demand.

The Russian UN ambassador, Vasily Nebenzya, denounced the text as “politicised”, saying it served only the “geopolitical interests” of the US. He said it was “plumped full of politicised, irrelevant and dubious provisions”.

Ten of the 15 members of the UN security council voted in favour of the resolution, three against, and two abstained. For it to have passed, it would have needed at least nine positive votes with no vetoes from the permanent members, which include Russia and China.

Aletha Adu
Aletha Adu

Keir Starmer has conceded to Muslim Labour MPs that his visit to a south Wales mosque could have been handled better, the Guardian understands, as he faces mounting pressure from all wings of the party to call for a ceasefire in Gaza.

The shadow women and equalities minister, Yasmin Qureshi, publicly broke Labour ranks on Wednesday and urged Rishi Sunak to call for a ceasefire during the British prime minister’s questions. She said the people of Gaza were subject to “collective punishment” for “crimes they did not commit”.

If I heard the question correctly … she was asking the prime minister what the conditions were that would lead the prime minister to support a ceasefire.

The Labour leader and his deputy, Angela Rayner, met more than a dozen Muslim politicians on Wednesday afternoon, who stressed that his positioning on the Israel-Hamas conflict was causing distress to many in the party.

Those in attendance were said to have argued that the disappointment felt by many in the party amounted to much more than a “Jewish-Muslim community issue”, the Guardian understands.

Sources described the meeting as “constructive” and “robust”, with Starmer and Rayner said to be in “full listening mode”.

Joe Biden has called into question the civilian death toll in Gaza being reported by the Palestinian authorities there.

Israeli strikes have killed more than 6,500 Palestinians, mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in Gaza, AFP reported.

But the US president cast doubt on the figure being presented from Gaza:

‘I have no notion that the Palestinians are telling the truth about how many people are killed. I’m sure innocents have been killed, and it’s a price of waging war. But I have no confidence in the number that the Palestinians are using,’ he said at the White House earlier today.

Joanna Walters
Joanna Walters

Joe Biden further said at the White House earlier that he “did not demand” that Israel delay a ground invasion of Gaza, Agence France-Presse reported.

The agency said that Biden told reporters in the Rose Garden:

Israel has a right and I would add responsibility to respond to the slaughter of its people.

Biden accused Gaza’s rulers Hamas of “hiding behind” Palestinian civilians, as Israel bombards the enclave, but said Israel must follow the “laws of war”. At the joint press conference with visiting Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, he said:

Israel has to do everything in its power, as difficult as it is, to protect innocent civilians. It’s difficult.

US media have reported that Biden has pushed Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off on a ground invasion of Gaza while Hamas still holds hostages, but Biden denied it:

What I have indicated to him is that if that’s possible to get these folks out safely, that’s what he should do. It’s their decision. But I did not demand it. I put it out to him, if it’s real, it should be done.

Here’s a clip of part of those remarks:

REPORTER: "In your conversations with PM Netanyahu...have you sought assurances from him that he would hold off on a ground invasion...until the safe release of the hostages can be assured?"

BIDEN: "No...It's their decision. But I did not demand it."

REPORTER: "Aren't these…

— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) October 25, 2023

Biden makes fresh call for two-state solution after Israel-Hamas war

Joanna Walters
Joanna Walters

Joe Biden on Wednesday spoke out against retaliatory attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank in the aftermath of the 7 October Hamas attacks on Israel, the Associated Press reports.

The US president also said he was redoubling his commitment to working on a two-state solution to end the decades-long Israel-Palestine conflict.

Biden said that the attacks by “extremist settlers” amounted to “pouring gasoline” on the already burning fires in the Middle East.

‘It has to stop. They have to be held accountable. It has to stop now,’ Biden said at the start of a news conference with Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese, who was being honored with a state visit to Washington DC.

Settler violence against Palestinians has intensified since the Hamas attack, and settlers have killed Palestinians, according to Palestinian authorities. Rights groups say settlers have torched cars and attacked several small Bedouin communities, forcing them to evacuate to other areas.

Biden again condemned the brutality of the Hamas attack that killed 1,400 Israelis and said that he was convinced that Hamas was driven in part by a desire to undo US-led efforts to normalize Israeli relations with some of its Arab neighbors, including Saudi Arabia.

Biden also said that after the Israel-Hamas conflict comes to an end, Israelis, Palestinians and their partners must work toward a two-state solution:

Israelis and Palestinians equally deserve to live side by side in safety, dignity and peace. When this crisis is over, there has to be a vision of what comes next. And in our view, it has to be a two-state solution.

Joe Biden arrives for a press conference with Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese at the White House on 25 October.
Biden arrives for a press conference with Australia’s prime minister Anthony Albanese at the White House on 25 October. Photograph: Yuri Gripas/UPI/Shutterstock

Switzerland has suspended financial support to 11 Palestinian and Israeli non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in light of ongoing hostilities in the region.

A statement from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) reads:

In view of the new situation that has prevailed since the Hamas attack on Israel on 7 October and the resumption of hostilities in the Middle East, the FDFA has decided to suspend its financial support to eleven local NGOs (six Palestinian and five Israeli).

The organisations are mainly active in the field of human rights, it said.

The department said the suspension would allow an “in-depth analysis” of whether these organisations’ communications comply with the FDFA’s code of conduct and anti-discrimination clause.

The FDFA’s cooperation activities in the Middle East must adapt to the new context that has prevailed since the resumption of hostilities. The relevance and feasibility of programmes will therefore have to be analysed in general terms.

'Massive' ground operation in Gaza would be 'an error for Israel', says Macron

French president Emmanuel Macron said he believed it would be an “error” if Israel launched a “massive” ground incursion into Gaza.

The warning came as Macron held talks in Cairo with his Egyptian counterpart, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, who also urged efforts “to avoid a ground invasion” in the Palestinian territory.

Speaking to reporters in Egypt, Macron said:

France recognises Israel’s right to defend itself. Regarding a ground intervention, if it is entirely targeted against terrorist groups, that is a choice that it has, but if it is a massive operation that would endanger civilian populations, in that case I think it would be an error for Israel.

The French leader said: “It would also be a mistake for Israel because it would be unlikely to offer long-term protection and because it is incompatible with protecting the civilian population or respecting international humanitarian law and the rules of war.”

Macron said France would be sending a navy ship to support Gaza’s hospitals within the next 48 hours.

The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, said he asked Qatar’s prime minister to tone down the state-owned Al Jazeera’s rhetoric about the war in Gaza, according to a report.

Blinken, speaking to a group of US Jewish community leaders on Monday, said he asked the Qatari government to change its public posture towards Hamas, Axios reported, citing people who attended the meeting.

Blinken said he asked the Qataris to “turn down the volume on Al Jazeera’s coverage because it is full of anti-Israel incitement”, according to one source.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) continue to carry out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip to “improve” the army’s situation for the upcoming ground offensive, IDF spokesperson Rear Adm Daniel Hagari said.

In a statement, Hagari said the war “will be long, and to achieve the goals of the war, resilience, trust and patience are required” from the Israeli public.

We will continue to strike in Gaza to achieve the goals of the war. Every strike improves our situation for the next stages.

1 of 8NextOldestOldest
  • Red Cross witnesses ‘utter chaos’ at Gaza hospitals as supplies run critically low

  • Queen Rania of Jordan condemns west’s ‘silence’ over Israeli bombing of Gaza

  • ‘We are running out of hope,’ says son-in-law of couple held hostage by Hamas

  • Qatar hopeful Hamas will soon release more hostages

  • What is UNRWA and what has it said about fuel deliveries to Gaza?

  • How bombings, blockades and import bans caused Gaza’s water system to crumble

  • Rishi Sunak calls for ‘specific pauses’ in Israel-Hamas conflict

  • UN warns Gaza aid operation will soon stop if fuel not let in