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People gather in a neighbourhood in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, after it was hit by an Israeli strike. Image Credit: AFP

Foreigners and dual nationals packed into Gaza's border crossing with Egypt on Monday as hopes of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas were dashed for the second time in three days, leaving the exit sealed as Israeli airstrikes pounded the enclave.

Despite efforts by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to reopen the crossing and reports by media outlets citing Israeli and Egyptian officials about a 9 am cease-fire to allow out dual nationals and allow in aid, both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office and Hamas denied any such agreement existed, and the violence has persisted.

The standoff over the Egyptian border has deepened frustration and panic among aid groups, which warn that time is running out for wounded and displaced Gazans to receive critical - and in many cases, lifesaving - supplies, as the humanitarian situation rapidly deteriorates.

The crisis in Gaza was sparked by a surprise incursion into Israel on October 7 by Hamas, which killed more than 1,400 people across towns and military bases, and took more than 200 Israeli and foreign nationals back to Gaza as hostages.

In response, Israel's army has launched its own searing assault on Gaza, a territory that has lived under Hamas rule for 17 years and an Israeli blockade for 16, killing at least 2,778 people and wounding almost 10,000 as body bags run out and the dead are now buried in mass graves.

More than 2 million people live in the cramped enclave less than half the size of New York City, with closed border crossings and no safe space as the bombs rain down. Israeli officials have declared the area under "full siege," meaning that no fuel, food or lifesaving medical supplies are allowed to enter.

Follow the developments in the latest Israel-Hamas war:

Blinken, Netanyahu sheltered in bunker amid air raid sirens in Tel Aviv 

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Israeli Prime Minister sheltered in a bunker for five minutes on Monday when air sirens went off in Tel Aviv during their meeting, State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

The two have since moved out and are continuing their discussions at the defense ministry's command center, Miller said.

EU to launch humanitarian air corridor to Gaza: von der Leyen

The European Union will launch a humanitarian air corridor to Gaza through Egypt with the first flights expected this week, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Monday.

"Palestinians in Gaza are in need of humanitarian help and aid. That is why... we are launching an EU humanitarian air bridge to Gaza through Egypt. The first two flights will start this week," von der Leyen told a press conference in the Albanian capital Tirana, where she attended a regional Balkan summit.

Putin speaks to Netanyahu over conflict with Hamas

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday called Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time since the deadly Hamas attack, and briefed him on several talks with leaders from the region and Palestinian Authority.

"The Israeli side was in particular informed of the essential points of telephone correspondences that took place today with the leaders of Palestine, Egypt, Iran and Syria," the Kremlin said in a statement.

Egypt, France foreign ministers urge aid to Gaza through Rafah

Egypt and France's foreign ministers urged Monday the delivery of humanitarian aid and the exit of foreign nationals from the bombarded Gaza Strip, on the tenth day of war between Israel and Hamas.

"Those who want to leave Gaza must be able to do so," French foreign minister Catherine Colonna said, urging the opening of crossing points.

Egypt controls the Rafah border crossing, the only passage in and out of Gaza not controlled by Israel.

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An Israeli soldier walks next to bullet holes, in the aftermath of a mass infiltration by Hamas gunmen from the Gaza Strip. Image Credit: Reuters

Germany warns Iran not to 'pour oil on the fire'


Germany on Monday warned Iran not to further inflame the conflict between Israel and Islamist militant group Hamas after the country's foreign minister met with high-ranking Hamas officials.

"Anyone who wants to play with fire in this situation and pour oil on the fire or ignite it in any other way should really think twice because we are facing a potentially major regional conflict," foreign ministry spokesman Sebastian Fischer said.

11 Palestinian journalists killed in war

Eleven Palestinian journalists have been killed in the war in Gaza since Israel launched its blistering air campaign on the coastal enclave, the Palestinian journalists' union said Monday.

Twenty other journalists have also been injured in the conflict since it erupted on October 7 after Hamas militants carried out a deadly attack on Israel that triggered a devastating war.

Arab League chief demands end to Gaza military operations

The Arab League chief on Monday called for an immediate end to military operations in the Gaza Strip and for aid to be allowed into to the impoverished Palestinian enclave.

"We demand the immediate end of military operations and the opening of safe corridors to bring aid to the population," Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit said during a meeting with Arab justice ministers in Baghdad.

Israel military confirms 199 hostages abducted

The Israeli military on Monday raised the figure to 199 people confirmed to have been abduced by Hamas to the Gaza Strip in the militants' cross-border attacks which sparked a devastating war.

"We have updated the families of 199 hostages," military spokesman Daniel Hagari told a media briefing, revising up an earlier figure of 155 captives.

Israelis and foreigners are among those abducted in the Hamas assault on October 7.

"The efforts on the hostages are a top national priority," Hagari said. "The army and Israel are working around the clock to bring them back."

Blinken returns to Israel for crisis talks

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned to Israel on Monday for talks on the conflict with Hamas following a tour of six Arab countries, an AFP correspondent travelling with him said.

The top US diplomat, who was in Israel on Thursday on a solidarity visit, landed in Tel Aviv and was expected to again meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.

Israel denies reports of any 'ceasefire' in Gaza: PM office

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A ball of fire and smoke rise above buildings during an Israeli strike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. Image Credit: AFP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office Monday denied reports of a ceasefire in Gaza that would enable aid to enter and foreigners to flee to Egypt, 10 days into the war with Hamas.

"There is currently no ceasefire and humanitarian aid in Gaza in return for removing foreigners," a statement from Netanyahu's office said.

Gaza death toll rises to about 2,750

The death toll from Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip has risen to around 2,750 since Hamas's deadly attack on southern Israel last week, the Gaza health ministry said Monday.

Some 9,700 people have also been injured as Israel continued its withering air campaign on targets in the Palestinian coastal enclave, the Hamas-controlled ministry added.

Residents evacuated along Lebanon border

The Israeli army said Monday it was evacuating residents living along its northern frontier with Lebanon amid rising tensions there 10 days into its war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The army noted in a statement "the implementation of a plan to evacuate residents of northern Israel who live in the area up to two kilometres from the Lebanese border to state-funded guesthouses".

Lifesaving aid at Rafah crossing

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A view of trucks carrying humanitarian aid for Palestinians, as they wait for the re-opening of the Rafah border crossing to enter Gaza. Image Credit: Reuters

The World Health Organization said lifesaving assistance, including health supplies to serve 300,000 patients, is awaiting entry through the Rafah crossing into Gaza.

The crossing was closed because of airstrikes earlier in the war, and U.S. has been trying to broker a deal to reopen the crossing to allow foreigners to leave and allow in humanitarian aid amassed on the Egyptian side.

The WHO, in comments to The Associated Press, reiterated calls for the immediate and safe delivery of medical supplies, fuel, clean water and food, and other humanitarian aid into Gaza through Rafah crossing.

UN says Gaza - without water, food or medicine

The U.N.'s Palestinian refugee agency says Gaza “is being strangled” and the number of people seeking shelter at their schools and facilities in the south of the territory is overwhelming.

“If we look at the issue of water — we all know water is life — Gaza is running out of water, and Gaza is running out of life,” said Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of UNRWA at a press conference in Jerusalem.

“Soon, I believe, with this there will be no food or medicine either,” he said.

At least 1 million people were forced to flee their homes in the previous week. At least 400,000 displaced people are crammed into UNRWA schools and buildings, and most are not equipped as emergency shelters. Conditions are unsanitary and appalling.

Most of the agency’s 13,000 staff in the Gaza Strip are now displaced or out of their homes, said Lazzarini.

Occupation of Gaza would be 'big mistake': Biden

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Israeli soldiers move a tank at a staging area near the border with Gaza Strip, in southern Israel. Image Credit: AP

Any move by Israel to occupy the Gaza Strip again would be a "big mistake," US President Joe Biden said in an interview, as Israeli troops prepared for a ground invasion.

Asked by CBS news program 60 Minutes if he would support any occupation of Gaza by the American ally, Biden replied: "I think it'd be a big mistake."

Hamas "don't represent all the Palestinian people," he continued.

But invading and "taking out the extremists" is a "necessary requirement," he added.

30 Americans killed in Israel

The US State Department says the number of Americans killed since the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas has risen to 30.

“At this time, we can confirm the deaths of 30 US citizens. We extend our deepest condolences to the victims and to the families of all those affected," the State Department said in a statement released Sunday. The US is also aware of 13 missing citizens and has been in contact with their families.

“The US government is working around the clock to determine their whereabouts and is working with the Israeli government on every aspect of the hostage crisis, including sharing intelligence and deploying experts from across the United States government to advise the Israeli government on hostage recovery efforts,” the statement said.

Actions of Hamas 'do not represent Palestinian people'

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas said that the policies and actions of Hamas "do not represent the Palestinian people", the news agency Wafa reported.

The Palestinian Liberation Organisations (PLO) was the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, he added, during talks with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Wafa added.

According to a Venezuelan Foreign Ministry statement, Maduro and Abbas discussed "the terrible situation" in the Gaza Strip following "indiscriminate attacks" by Israel.

Maduro reaffirmed "Venezuela's unconditional support for the Palestinian cause and its Authority", and offered 30 tonnes of humanitarian aid "for the Palestinian people" to be sent in the next few days, according to the statement.

It added that both leaders agreed to "demand an immediate ceasefire and the establishment of a humanitarian assistance corridor" as well as the return to "international legality".

Blinken says expelling Gazans 'non-starter'

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has categorically rejected the idea floated of expelling Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, saying they should be able to stay as Israel battles Hamas.

With Israel telling more than one million Gazans to leave the north of the enclave ahead of a ground invasion, some Israeli politicians have proposed pushing Palestinians into neighbouring Egypt.

"I've heard directly from Palestinian Authority President (Mahmud) Abbas and from virtually every other leader that I've talked to in the region that that idea is a nonstarter, and so we do not support it," Blinken said in an interview in Cairo with the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya television network.

"We believe that people should be able to stay in Gaza, their home. But we also want to make sure that they're out of harm's way and that they're getting the assistance they need," he said.

Cross-border attacks intensify

An Israeli drone fired two missiles late Sunday evening at a hill west of the town of Kfar Kila in south Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency reported. There were no casualties reported in the strikes, which hit near a Lebanese army center.

The Israeli army said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, that it had hit Hezbollah targets but did not specify what they were.

Cross-border clashes between armed factions in Lebanon and Israel intensified, with Hezbollah firing rockets and Israeli forces responding with shelling. The Israeli army also reported a shooting at one of its border posts. The fighting has killed at least one person on the Israeli side and wounded several on both sides of the border.

US to prepare wartime aid to Israel

US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Sunday that he would work with Senate Republicans in the coming weeks to assemble a “generous” package of wartime aid for Israel.

“America will stand with its ally Israel,” he said at a news conference in Israel that capped a visit by a bipartisan group of senators. “I, along with my colleagues here, will lead the effort in the United States Senate to provide Israel with the support required to fully defend itself from this monstrous attack.”

Schumer, a Democrat who is the highest-ranking Jewish official in the US, said he openly wept when he heard from the families of people taken hostage by Hamas. The group of senators also met with Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz, who have formed a wartime Cabinet.

“We will work to move this aid through the Senate ASAP, and the Israeli leaders made it clear to us they need the aid quickly,” Schumer said.

France says 19 of its citizens were killed in Hamas attack

France says it now counts 19 of its citizens who were killed in Hamas’ assault on Israel just over a week ago, with no news of 13 others who are missing and who, in some cases, may be held hostage.

The latest tally was given by France’s foreign minister, Catherine Colonna, on a visit Sunday to Israel. She vowed that “everything will be done” to free the hostages.

Colonna also urged that the United Nations be allowed to organize deliveries of food and other essentials to displaced people in southern Gaza “who are lacking everything.”

Israel is entitled to defend itself against “the monstrosity of Hamas and the danger it represents,” Colonna said after talks with Israeli officials but she also appealed for civilians to be safeguarded.

WHO chief urges Hamas to free hostages

The World Health Organization chief on Sunday urged Hamas to release all civilian hostages, as he warned that the war between Israel and the Islamist group would only bring destruction and horror.

WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he was gravely concerned by Israeli attacks in which innocent Palestinian civilians and children were "paying the price".

The conflict "is an awful reminder of how quickly the health of millions of people can be put at risk", the UN agency's leader said, in comments circulated by the WHO headquarters in Geneva.

"War will bring nothing but destruction and horror," he told the World Health Summit in Berlin, speaking from Manila.

US fears escalation of war, prospect of Iran becoming 'directly engaged'

The United States said Sunday it fears an escalation of the war between Israel and Hamas and the prospect of Iran getting directly involved.

Speaking on CBS, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan cited the possibility of a new battle front on the Israel-Lebanon border and added, "We can't rule out that Iran would choose to get directly engaged some way. We have to prepare for every possible contingency."