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A convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid from Egyptian NGOs for Palestinians start to move from Al-Arish to Rafah city as they wait for an agreement on the opening on the Rafah border crossing to enter Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in the city of Al-Arish, Sinai peninsula, Egypt. Image Credit: Reuters

Palestinians described intense bombardments early Tuesday near two towns in southern Gaza, where Israel had ordered civilians to seek refuge.

Thousands of people trying to escape Gaza are gathered in Rafah, which has the territory’s only border crossing to Egypt. Mediators are pressing for an agreement to let aid in and refugees with foreign passports out. The U.S. hoped to break a deadlock with President Joe Biden set to head to Israel and Jordan on Wednesday.

Aid workers warned that life in Gaza was near complete collapse because of the Israeli siege that followed a Hamas attack on Israel.

The war that began Oct. 7 has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,778 Palestinians have been killed and 9,700 wounded. More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed, and at least 199 others, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to Israel.

Follow the developments in the latest Israel-Hamas war:

Palestinians protest against Abbas

Palestinian security forces in central Ramallah fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse protesters throwing rocks and chanting against President Mahmoud Abbas, as popular anger boiled over after a deadly Israeli attack on a Gaza hospital on Tuesday.

Clashes with Palestinian security forces broke out in a number of other cities in the West Bank late on Tuesday, according to witnesses.

Hundreds killed in strike on Gaza hospital

An Israeli air strike on Tuesday killed hundreds of Palestinians at a Gaza City hospital crammed with patients and displaced people, health authorities in the besieged enclave said.

A Gaza Health Ministry official said at least 500 people were killed and several others injured in the air strike on the Al Ahli Baptist Hospital.

Hamas said the bombing mostly killed people left homeless by Israel bombardments, and that the dead included patients, women and children.

The Israeli military said it did not have any details about the reported bombing, but was checking. It has previously accused Hamas of using Palestinian civilians as human shields.

UN warns Israel against 'forcible transfer' of Gazans

The United Nations warned Israel against the "forcible transfer of civilians" in the Gaza Strip, which could be in breach of international law.

The UN human rights office said that a legal temporary evacuation of civilians came with obligations on Israel, which, the Geneva-based agency said, it appears to have made no attempt to fulfil.

Israel has demanded that residents of north Gaza leave for the south, hoping to clear the area of civilians in preparation for a perilous urban ground assault.

"We have grave fears about the toll on civilians in the coming days. Military operations show no signs of abating," UN rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani told a media briefing.

"International law requires that any lawful temporary evacuation by Israel, as the occupying power, of an area on the basis of the security of the population or imperative military reasons must be accompanied by the provision of proper accommodation for all evacuees, undertaken under satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition.

"There appears to have been no attempt by Israel to ensure this for the 1.1 million civilians ordered to move.

"We are concerned that this order combined with the imposition of a 'complete siege' on Gaza may not be considered as lawful temporary evacuation and would therefore amount to a forcible transfer of civilians -in breach of international law."

US defense forces placed on heightened readiness

US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin placed 2,000 personnel and a range of units on a heightened state of readiness in order to respond quickly to the evolving security situation in the Middle East, his department said in a statement. No decision has been made to deploy any forces, it said.

Biden to attend Jordan summit

Jordan's King Abdullah will host a four-way summit in Amman on Wednesday with Biden, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to discuss the developments in Gaza, Jordan's Royal Hashemite Court said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

UN condemns reported killing of fleeing civilians

The UN human rights office is decrying “appalling reports” that civilians who were trying to flee to southern Gaza were hit and killed by a military strike.

Spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani urged Israeli forces to avoid “aerial bombardments, indiscriminate or disproportionate attacks” and to “take precautions to avoid – and in any case, to minimize – loss of civilian life, injury to civilians and damage to civilian objects.”

She said those who managed to evacuate are now trapped in southern Gaza with scant access to shelter, food, water, sanitation and medicine.

“Appalling reports that civilians attempting to relocate to southern Gaza were struck and killed by an explosive weapon, must be independently and thoroughly investigated as must all allegations of serious violations of international humanitarian law,” she said.

Turkey in touch with Hamas over hostages

Turkey's top diplomat said Tuesday that his country had been in touch with Hamas over some 200 Israeli and foreign hostages it is holding in Gaza, following requests from several governments.

"So far, we have received requests from various countries for the release of their citizens. As a result, we started to discuss these issues, especially with the political wing of Hamas," Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told a news conference in Beirut, alongside his Lebanese counterpart, Abdallah Bou Habib.

Macron says 'intense' talks on to free hostages held by Hamas

Intense talks are on to free hostages held by Hamas after its attack on Israel, French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday, after the mother of a French-Israeli captive begged world leaders to intervene.

"I want to be very cautious here... so as not to endanger the intense talks we are currently conducting," Macron told reporters in the Albanian capital Tirana. "But they are progressing and we are following these talks hour by hour."

Jordan won't accept Palestinian refugees

King Abdullah II of Jordan has said at a meeting with German Chancellor OIaf Scholz in Berlin that neither Jordan nor Egypt would be willing to take in any Palestinian refugees.

The Jordanian king told reporters on Tuesday that “this is a red line ... no refugees to Jordan and also no refugees to Egypt.”

“This is a situation that has to be handled within Gaza and the West Bank,” he said. “And you don’t have to carry this out on the shoulders of others.”

Abdullah also said that everything needs to be done to prevent a further escalation of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

“The whole region is on the brink,” Abdullah said. “This new cycle of violence is leading us towards the abyss.”

Scholz, who is traveling to Israel later on Tuesday, stressed that the country has every right to defend itself and can count on Germany’s support.

Israel thwarts infiltration bid from Lebanon

Israeli troops killed four militants attempting to infiltrate from Lebanon, the army said Tuesday, as tensions run high along the border between the two countries.

"A short while ago, IDF (Israeli army) observation troops spotted a terrorist squad attempting to infiltrate the security fence with Lebanon and plant an explosive device," the army said in a statement. "Four terrorists were killed."

Relief convoys head towards Gaza border crossing

Relief convoys which had been waiting in the Egyptian city of El Arish Tuesday headed towards the Rafah border crossing with the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, aid officials said.

"We have arrived at the terminal and are now waiting for the next step," said Heba Rashed, who runs the aid group Mersal. Hundreds more lorries were headed along the coast road for the 40 kilometre (25 mile) journey to Rafah, other aid officials said.

Around half a million Israelis displaced inside Israel: military

Around 500,000 Israelis have been evacuated and displaced in the 10 days since Hamas unleashed the bloodiest attack in the country's history, the Israeli military said Tuesday.

"There are about half a million internally displaced Israelis at the time," Jonathan Conricus, spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), said in an online briefing, adding that all communities around the Gaza Strip as well as more than 20 communities in the north had been evacuated.

Biden to visit Israel Wednesday

President Joe Biden will travel to Israel on Wednesday to show support for the U.S. ally amid concerns the Israel-Hamas war could become a larger regional conflict, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said early Tuesday in Tel Aviv.

Biden will then go to Jordan to meet with Arab leaders, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said.

Blinken's announcement followed hours of talks with Israeli officials, as well as an invitation from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

As the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip grows more dire, Blinken also said the U.S. and Israel had agreed to develop a plan to enable humanitarian aid from donor nations to reach civilians in Gaza, "including the possibility of creating areas to help keep civilians out of harm’s way.”

“We share Israel’s concern that Hamas may seize or destroy aid entering Gaza or otherwise prevent it from reaching the people who need it,” Blinken said.

Iran warns of possible preemptive action

Iran’s foreign minister has warned that “preemptive action is possible” if Israel moves closer to its looming ground offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The comments by Hossein Amirabdollahian follow a pattern of escalating rhetoric from Iran, whose theocracy provides support to Hamas and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Israel cannot “do whatever it wants in Gaza and then go after other resistance groups after it’s done with Gaza,” he told state television. “Therefore any preemptive action is possible in the coming hours.”

He did not elaborate on what form any action might take.

“If the limited and extremely tight windows of opportunity available to the United Nations and political actors are not used over the coming hours, opening new fronts against the Zionist regime is inevitable,” he said.

Israel strikes Hezbollah 'terrorist' targets in Lebanon: army

Israel launched strikes overnight on Hezbollah "terrorist" targets in Lebanon, a statement from the Israeli army said early Tuesday morning.

"The Israeli army is striking military targets of the terrorist organisation Hezbollah on Lebanese territory," the statement said.

Hamas says Israeli threat of ground invasion 'doesn't scare us'

The threat of an Israeli ground invasion of the blockaded Gaza Strip "doesn't scare us and we are ready for it", Abu Obeideh, the spokesman of Hamas's military wing, said Monday.

In a televised statement, he said Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades were holding 200 people captive since a massive onslaught on Israel's south on October 7, with about 50 others held by other "resistance factions and in other places".

"The threat of the occupation (Israel) to launch a ground offensive against our people doesn't scare us and we are ready for it," Abu Obeideh said ahead of an expected Israeli invasion more than a week into war.

UN pushes for aid to be allowed in Gaza

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A convoy of trucks carrying humanitarian aid from Egyptian NGOs for Palestinians start to move from Al-Arish to Rafah city as they wait for an agreement on the opening on the Rafah border crossing to enter Gaza. Image Credit: Reuters

Calling this “the worst of times,” the U.N. humanitarian chief said the United Nations is in “deep discussions” with the Israelis, Egyptians and others about getting aid through the Rafah crossing, “hugely helped” by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who has been traveling in the region.

Martin Griffiths, who is heading to Cairo on Tuesday “to try to help in the negotiations,” said in an interview with the U.N. Monday that he was hoping for “some good news” soon.

Griffiths said the U.N.’s “overwhelming priority” is to get access to Gaza, saying humanitarian rules of war are being violated.

“You cannot ask people to move out of harm’s way without assisting them to do it,” by providing safe places and humanitarian aid, and right now Israel has not made these provisions for Gazans moving from the north to the south, Griffiths said.

He also called for the immediate release of all hostages taken from Israel, many of them children, women, the elderly and the sick, which he said is “unacceptable” and illegal.

Air raid sirens puntuate Blinken's return

Air raid sirens interrupted U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s return to Israel three times on Monday, twice as he met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his war cabinet for discussions over Israel’s war with Hamas.

The sirens signaling incoming rocket fire followed by the loud booms of Iran Dome air defenses intercepting rockets underscored an often-daily reality for Israelis, especially in the past week.

Blinken and his team got their first taste of the warning system and Iron Dome response as they drove from Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, minutes after sirens sounded in both cities causing motorists to pull over and take cover.

Blinken’s motorcade did not slow or alter its route but sped quickly to the Israeli Ministry of Defense as motorists on the shoulders of the road returned to their vehicles.

Later, Blinken and his aides were meeting Netanyahu and his war cabinet at the prime minister’s office when sirens sounded again. Blinken, Netanyahu and the others took shelter in a bunker, according to State Department spokesman Matthew Miller.

Others huddled in defense ministry stairwells until the all clear was given.

Israel hits Gaza with more air strikes

Israeli air strikes continue to lay waste to Gaza, hitting homes sheltering people seeking safer ground and wiping out 18 members of the same family.

Three families who had fled Gaza City were in a house that was struck early Monday in the southern city of Rafah. The attack killed a dozen people and left nine buried in the rubble, according to surviving family members.

A vast crater marked where the building had stood.

In the Nuseirat refugee camp in the middle of the besieged Gaza Strip, the bodies of 18 members of the Ghabayen family were loaded onto a truck.

“This is an entire family,” said Mustafa Ghabayen, a relative. “Eighteen martyrs and three are still under the rubble.”

Putin urges peace in phone call with Netanyahu

Russian President Vladimir Putin reiterated his desire for peace between Israel and the Palestinians in a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Kremlin said Monday.

The Kremlin said Putin also urged a quick end to hostilities in earlier calls to Egyptian, Iranian, Syrian and Palestinian leaders.

Speaking to Netanyahu, Putin expressed his “sincere condolences” to the families and friends of deceased Israelis and emphasized “his strong rejection and condemnation of any actions that victimize the civilian population.”

The Kremlin said Putin reiterated his desire for “a peaceful settlement through political and diplomatic means.”