As the war on Gaza enters its 44th day, international pressure and Western concern over Israel’s attacks continue to mount, with United States President Joe Biden calling for an independent Palestinian state “free from Hamas.”
On the ground, the conflict around Al-Shifa Hospital continues to escalate; a visiting team from the World Health Organization marked it a “death zone.”
Update 9: The Palestinian Red Crescent Society, in collaboration with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, successfully evacuated 31 premature babies from Al-Shifa Hospital on 18 November. The ambulances carrying the babies are now on their way to the Emirates Hospital in Rafah.
Update 8: A joint press conference between Qatari Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani and European Union Foreign Policy Head Josep Borrell indicated that a hostage release deal is looming – pending “very minor” logistical issues, according to Al-Thani.
“The deal is going through ups and downs from time to time throughout the last few weeks. But I think that you know I’m now more confident that we are close enough to reach a deal that can bring the people safely back to their homes,” Al-Thani remarked.
Borrell also added that an immediate “humanitarian pause” is essential to peace, highlighting that “one horror does not justify the other,” a nod at Israel’s ongoing attacks on Gaza since 7 October.
Update 7: Six journalists based in Gaza were killed over the past 24 hours, according to a statement from the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms. The deceased include Amr Salah Abu Hayya – engineer for Al-Aqsa TV; Sari Mansour – Quds News Journalist; Abdul Halim Awad – administrator for Al-Aqsa TV; Hassouneh Salim – Quds News Journalist; Mustafa Al-Sawaf – Anatolian Agency Journalist; Montaser Al-Sawaf – Anatolian Agency Photographer, son of Mustafa Al-Sawaf.
Update 6: Jordan’s King Abdullah II urged the international community to push for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza to stop what he termed Israel’s “ugly war against civilians“. The monarch’s comments came during a meeting with the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.
Update 5: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz criticized Israel’s persistent illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank during a press conference on 18 November – repeatedly calling for a two-state solution.
“We don’t want any new settlements in the West Bank, no violence by settlers against the Palestinians in the West Bank,” Scholz remarked
Update 4: Initial Israeli police investigations over the Hamas surprise attack on 7 October indicated that the militant group had no knowledge about the Nova music festival held that day, according to Haaretz.
The same report also revealed that an IDF combat helicopter firing at Hamas fighters at the festival also hit festival participants in the crossfire. It remains unclear if the helicopter killed any Israelis.
Update 3: A team from the World Health Organization (WHO) inspected Al-Shifa Hospital on 18 November, describing the area as a “death zone”. Thousands of people, both staff and patients, were given just one hour to leave the hospital according to a medical source at Al-Shifa interviewed by Al Jazeera.
Update 2: At least 15 Palestinians were killed on 18 November as Israeli warplanes targeted residential homes in the Nuseirat refugee camp in Gaza, according to WAFA.
Update 1: US President Joe Biden argued in an op-ed for The Washington Post published on 18 November that his administration is looking to end the war on Gaza while working towards creating an independent Palestinian state “free from Hamas.” Biden also touched on the increasing settler violence towards Palestinians, calling for aggressors to be held accountable.
THE CONFLICT SO FAR
After a surprise attack conducted on 7 October by Hamas on a number of southern Israeli towns which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and more than 220 being taken hostage by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.
At least 12,500 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip — including at least 5,000 children — and over 32,000 others injured. Meanwhile, at least 183 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and more than 2,700 injured. The death toll is no longer being regularly updated due to the collapse of the enclave’s health system.
The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been deescalation and the securing of a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Israel bombed the crossing at least six times, and limited aid trucks have crossed to Gaza so far, which UN officials warn is insufficient amid dire humanitarian conditions.
Most Western countries, with the United States at the forefront, have expressed unconditional support for Israel, despite the steadily rising death toll in Gaza. Meanwhile, the United Nations General Assembly has issued a resolution calling for a ceasefire.