Israel has made a vow to “control” Gaza amid five weeks of violent retaliation from the Israeli military following the deadly Hamas attack on October 7.
Despite previously claiming Israel did not want to occupy the region once the war ends, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has now backtracked, saying Israeli defence forces will “remain in control of the Strip”.
“We will not give it to international forces,” he said.
His vow comes after the US suggested the security of Gaza should by managed by an international force with troops from Arab states, when the conflict ends.
Since October 7, Israel’s military campaign has killed more than 11,000 people in Gaza, mostly civilians, according to the health military in the Hamas-run territory.
This follows violent attacks from the militant group in southern Israel, which killed more than 1200 people, the majority being civilians according to Israeli officials.
Warning as Gaza reaches ‘point of no return’
Gaza City appears to be under a heavy rocket attack, with a vision from Al Jazeera showing orange streaks raining down on the area.
It comes as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned the healthcare system in Gaza has “reached a point of no return”, with attacks on medical facilities and personnel dealing a “heavy blow” to the area’s struggling healthcare system.
William Schomburg, head of ICRC sub-delegation in Gaza, said the destruction affecting Gaza’s hospitals has become “unbearable”, with the lives of thousands of civilians, patients and medical staff at risk.
It comes as Gaza’s largest hospital, Al Shifa, was hit by a strike Friday that its director said killed 13 people
The Israeli army has repeatedly accused Palestinian militant group Hamas of using hospitals, particularly Al-Shifa, to co-ordinate their attacks and also as hideouts for its commanders. Hamas authorities deny the accusations.
“There is no safe place left. The army hit Al-Shifa. I don’t know what to do,” 32-year-old Abu Mohammad, who was among those seeking refuge at the hospital, told the AFP.
“There is shooting … at the hospital. We are afraid to go out.”
Macron calls on Israel to stop ‘bombing, killing’ women, babies
French President Emmanuel Macron has called on the Israeli military to stop bombing and killing women and babies.
Speaking to the BBC following a humanitarian aid conference in Paris about the war in Gaza, Mr Macron called for a ceasefire, saying there was “not justification” for the air strikes that have been carried out by Israel,
He branded the actions of Hamas as “terrorism” and said France “clearly condemns” the militant group’s October 7 attack.
However, he noted that “having a large bombing of Gaza” is not the best way for Israel to protect itself.
“There is no other solution than first a humanitarian pause, going to a ceasefire, which will allow [us] to protect … all civilians having nothing to do with terrorists,” Mr Macron said.
“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.”
Israel death toll lowered
Israel has revised down the death toll from last month’s Hamas attacks in southern Israel from 1400 to about 1200, according to a foreign ministry spokesman.
“This is an updated estimate,” ministry spokesman Lior Haiat told AFP.
Israel previously said Hamas fighters who poured across the heavily militarised border on October 7 killed 1400 people, mostly civilians.
But in an unrelated statement on Friday that was critical of the UN’s cultural agency UNESCO, Haiat said Hamas murdered “about 1,200 people”.
‘Do what we need to’: Israel’s chilling hospital warning
Israeli troops were closing in on hospitals in Gaza City on Friday, an Israeli official said.
This comes as its battle with Hamas engulfed more of the city and raised fears that vulnerable patients and sheltering civilians with nowhere to flee could be harmed by Israeli strikes and running street battles.
“We’re aware of the sensitivity of the hospitals. That’s why we’re slowly closing in on them,” the Israeli military spokesman, Richard Hecht, told reporters.
He said that Israeli forces generally do not fire on hospitals, but added: “If we see Hamas terrorists firing from hospitals, we’ll do what we need to do.”
He also said that Israeli troops were “closing in” on Hamas in northern Gaza.
Following fighting around Al Shifa hospital, Israeli forces claimed it had killed dozens of militants and destroyed tunnels that are key to Hamas’s capacity to fight.
Originally published as Israel-Hamas war: Israel vows to ‘remain in control’ of Gaza