Israeli Armoured Personnel Carrier
An Israeli Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) is obscured as it whips up dust near Israel's border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel October 15, 2023. Image Credit: Reuters

Hundreds of thousands of Gaza residents sought to heed Israel’s order to evacuate roughly the northern half of the territory, while others huddled at hospitals in the north on Sunday. Gaza’s 2.3 million civilians faced a deepening struggle for food, water and safety, and braced for a looming invasion a week after Hamas militants launched a deadly assault on Israel.

Israeli forces, supported by a growing deployment of US warships in the region, positioned themselves along Gaza’s border and drilled for what Israel said would be a campaign by air, land and sea to dismantle the militant group. Israel dropped leaflets over Gaza City in the north and renewed warnings on social media, ordering more than 1 million Gaza residents to move south.

Follow the developments on the 9th day of the conflict here:

Israel confirms Hamas holding 155 hostages

The Israeli military said Sunday it had confirmed 155 people were being held hostage by Hamas since the Palestinian militant group staged its deadly attack last week.

Families of "155 hostages" have been contacted by the authorities, military spokesman Daniel Hagari said, updating an earlier figure confirming 126 hostages.

More than 1,000 people missing under rubble in Gaza: Palestinian civil defence

More than 1,000 people are missing under the rubble of buildings that were destroyed by Israeli air strikes in Gaza, the Palestinian civil defence team said on Sunday.

In a statement, the civil defence team said many others were pulled alive out of the rubble, 24 hours after buildings were struck.

UN Security Council in talks on resolution on Israel-Hamas war

UN Security Council members held difficult talks Sunday on a possible resolution over the war between Israel and Hamas, with two drafts on the negotiating table, diplomats said.

On Friday, Russia circulated a draft that calls for "an immediate, durable and fully respected humanitarian ceasefire" in the war triggered by the October 7 Hamas attack from Gaza on southern Israel.

That draft calls for "unimpeded" humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, which had already been under a years-long Israeli blockade and is now under a full-blown siege, with basics like electricity and food supplies cut off.

The Russian draft, seen by AFP, "strongly condemns all violence and hostilities directed against civilians and all acts of terrorism," without mentioning Hamas.

But the United States is insisting that the council condemn the Hamas attacks as an act of terrorism. And a competing draft from Brazil does explicitly do that, diplomats said.

More than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel since the attack unleashed last week by Hamas militants, the Israeli prime minister's office said Sunday.

The death toll in Gaza from Israeli retaliatory attacks has risen to 2,450, the health ministry there said.

Russia's UN ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said some council members had expressed a "positive" view of Moscow's draft in a closed door meeting Friday.

After seeking suggestions for changes to the text, Russia asked Brazil, the council's current chair, to put it up for a vote on Monday.

But no vote has been scheduled yet, diplomats said.

To be adopted, a resolution needs at least nine votes on the 15-member body, and cannot be vetoed by any of the five permanent members - the United States, Britain, China, France and Russia.

Diplomats said the talks were tough going, as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict regularly divides the council.

In theory, the text sponsored by Brazil, or one from any other council member, could be put up for a vote if the Russian document is not approved.

Water runs out at UN shelters in Gaza

Water has run out at UN shelters across Gaza as thousands packed into the courtyard of the besieged territory's largest hospital as a refuge of last resort from a looming Israeli ground offensive and overwhelmed doctors struggled to care for patients they fear will die once generators run out of fuel.

Palestinian civilians across Gaza, already battered by years of conflict, were struggling for survival Sunday in the face of an unprecedented Israeli operation against the territory following a Hamas militant attack on Oct. 7 that killed 1,300 Israelis, most of them civilians.

Israel says not interested in war with Hezbollah

Israel's defence minister said on Sunday that Israel has no interest in waging war on its northern front and that if the Lebanese group Hezbollah restrains itself then Israel will keep the situation along the border as it is.

Sporadic fire across the Israel-Lebanon border over the past week has raised concerns that fighting with Hamas militants in Gaza could escalate into a broader conflict.

On Sunday afternoon sirens sounded across northern Israel, sending residents running for shelter, and the military said it intercepted five of nine rockets fired from Lebanon. It then responded with artillery fire at the area from where the rockets were launched.

"We have no interest in a war in the north. We don't want to escalate the situation," Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told reporters.

"If Hezbollah chooses the path of war, it will pay a very heavy price. Very heavy. But if it restrains itself, we will respect that and keep the situation as it is," Gallant said, noting that there had been exchanges of fire across the border.

White House says Israel has announced water back on in southern Gaza

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Israeli tanks head towards the Gaza Strip border in southern Israel. Image Credit: AP

German air force evacuates 160 citizens out of Israel

The German air force has flown out 160 people from Israel over the weekend, the defence ministry said on Sunday.

The ministry said the Bundeswehr was ready for a military evacuation operation if necessary.

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."

Estimated one million people displaced in first week of Gaza war: UN

An estimated one million people have been displaced in the first seven days of the conflict in Gaza, the United Nations agency supporting Palestinian refugees said Sunday.

"An estimated one million people have been displaced in the first seven days" of the war in Gaza, UNRWA Director of Communications Juliette Touma told AFP.

Chinese FM says Beijing supports 'just cause' of Palestinian nation

China supports the "just cause of the Palestinian people in safeguarding their national rights", foreign minister Wang Yi told his Iranian counterpart on Sunday as Beijing takes an increasingly clear stance on the Israel-Gaza conflict.

"The root cause... of the Palestine-Israel situation is that the Palestinian people's right to statehood has been set aside for a long time," Wang said in a call with Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, according to an official Chinese readout.

Pope calls for humanitarian corridors for Gaza residents

Pope Francis called on Sunday for humanitarian corridors to allow the delivery of essentials to the Gaza Strip, which is under heavy Israeli bombardment following a bloody attack by its rulers, Hamas.

"Humanitarian law must be respected, especially in Gaza, where it is urgent and necessary to guarantee humanitarian corridors and help the population," said the Pope after his traditional Angelus prayer in Rome's Saint Peter's Square.

Israeli army awaits 'political' green light

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Israel has massed tens of thousands of troops around Gaza. Image Credit: AFP

The Israeli army is awaiting a "political decision" on the timing of a major ground offensive on the Gaza Strip, military spokesmen said Sunday as civilians stepped up desperate efforts to flee northern Gaza.

Israel has faced pressure from the United Nations and its allies to hold back on any invasion until civilians have been given every chance to leave. The military has not said when the safe passage windows will close.

Military spokesmen Lieutenant Richard Hecht and Daniel Hagari told separate briefings on Sunday that "a political decision" will set off any action against Hamas after its October 7 attacks that left at least 1,300 dead in Israel.

"We will be holding discussions with our political leadership," Hecht told one briefing.

'Mass displacement' towards southern Gaza

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Palestinians carried belongings through the rubble-strewn streets of Gaza City. Image Credit: AFP

Israel's order to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip has triggered "mass displacement" towards the south of the Palestinian enclave, the United Nations said Sunday.

Israel has warned 1.1 million Palestinian civilians to leave northern Gaza and a steady stream of families in overloaded cars, trucks and donkey carts have since headed south.

"Mass displacement from the north to the south of the Gaza Strip has been ongoing since... Friday morning, after Israel ordered residents to evacuate the areas ahead of military operations," the UN's humanitarian agency OCHA said in an update.

"Humanitarian partners report that the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has risen significantly over the last 24 hours; however the exact number is unknown."

US to evacuate nationals by ship on Monday

The United States has organised a ship to take Americans out of Israel to Cyprus on Monday, the US embassy said.

With Israel moving toward an invasion of the Gaza Strip, the ship will leave from the Israeli port of Haifa for Limassol taking "US nationals and their immediate family members with a valid travel document", the US embassy said in a security alert Sunday.

Each passenger will have to sign a document promising to repay the cost of the trip and will only be allowed to carry one suitcase. It said that some chartered flights would be arranged from Cyprus for onward travel.

Germany issues travel warning

The German government on Sunday urged its nationals not to travel to Israel, the Palestinian territories or Lebanon because of "an escalation of violence" following the Hamas attacks on Israel.

The travel warning is at the highest level given by the German government. In its statement, the foreign ministry also said it would "do its utmost" to support citizens wishing to leave Israel or the Palestinian territories.

Hospitals warn of an impending tragedy

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A Palestinian police officer holds a baby brought to a hospital following an Israeli strike. Image Credit: AFP

In Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza’s second largest hospital, the ICU rooms are packed full of wounded patients, most of them children below the age of 3. Hundreds of people with blast injuries have come to the hospital in the past eight days and many risk death as fuel is expected to run out by Monday, said Dr. Mohammed Qandeel, a consultant at the critical care complex of the hospital.

He said there are 35 patients in the ICU unit who depend on ventilators to stay alive. A further 60 patients are on dialysis. If fuel runs out, “it means the whole health system will be shut down, the services will be off,” he said. “We we are talking about another catastrophe, a historical tragedy.”

“All these patients are in danger of death if the electricity is cut off,” he said.

Further north, In the Kamal Alwan Hospital, the head of pediatrics Dr. Hussam Abu Safiya said the hospital did not evacuate despite the Israeli order to move south because there was no way to move patients without risking their lives.

“They have asked us to evacuate the hospital but we did not answer that order because evacuating the hospitals means death to all the children and patients under our care. We shall not evacuate the hospital even if it costs us our lives,” he said, adding that there are seven newborns in the ICU hooked up to ventilators.

Cross-border fire on Lebanon border

Cross-border fire erupted between Israel and Lebanon early Sunday, killing at least one person on the Israeli side of the border.

Both the Israeli military and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah acknowledged the fighting.

Hezbollah said it shelled Israeli military positions in the northern border town of Shtula. The group said in a statement the attack was in retaliation for Israeli shelling that killed Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah on Friday and two Lebanese civilians on Saturday.

Israel has responded by targeting the outskirts of the town of Ait el-Shaab, the Israeli military said.

Israel’s Magen David Adom rescue service said a 40-year-old man was killed in the attack from Lebanon, without elaborating or giving his nationality

Egypt border crossing remains closed

The Rafah crossing point between Egypt and Gaza remained closed on Sunday morning, as Egyptian authorities continued negotiations with Israel, the US and Palestinian militant groups over allowing aid to flow into the besieged strip and letting Americans and other foreigners and wounded Palestinians cross into Egypt, two Egyptian officials said.

Convoys of humanitarian aid, including shipments from Turkey and Jordan, have been waiting near the crossing point for delivery to Gaza, they said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief media.

Palestinian deaths soar past 2,300

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A Palestinian youth sits on the rubble following an Israeli military strike. Image Credit: AFP

The Gaza Health Ministry says 2,329 Palestinians have been killed since the latest fighting erupted, making this the deadliest of the five Gaza wars for Palestinians.

The death toll on Sunday surpassed that of the third war between Israel and Hamas, in the summer of 2014, when 2,251 Palestinians, including 1,462 civilians, were killed, according to U.N. figures.

More than 1,300 Israelis have been killed in the initial, wide-ranging assault and in rocket attacks from Gaza. The overwhelming majority were civilians.

Blinken meets with Saudi Crown Prince

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is meeting with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Riyadh as the Biden administration scrambles to prevent the Israel-Hamas war from becoming a broader regional conflict.

Blinken and the crown prince were holding talks on Sunday just hours after the Israeli military said it would begin a full-scale assault on Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip amid increasingly dire warnings that the expected ground invasion will have devastating consequences for Palestinian civilians.

Chinese envoy to visit Middle East

Chinese envoy Zhai Jun will visit the Middle East next week to push for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas conflict and push for peace talks, state broadcaster CCTV reported Sunday.

Zhai "will visit the Middle East next week to coordinate with various parties for a ceasefire, to protect civilians, ease the situation, and promote peace talks," CCTV said in a video posted to its official social media account on Sunday.

US to send a second carrier strike group

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The U.S. Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower deploys from Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia. Image Credit: Reuters

The Biden administration is sending the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower carrier strike group to the Eastern Mediterranean to support Israel, two defense officials told The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity to discuss the move ahead of its announcement.

The Eisenhower will join the USS Gerald R. Ford carrier strike group, which is already sailing near Israel, to bolster U.S. presence there with a host of destroyers, fighter aircraft and cruisers. Having two carriers in the region can provide a host of options.

Lebanon-Israel border clashes

Hamas announced early Sunday that three of its members from Lebanon had been killed after crossing the border from Lebanon into Israel and clashing with Israeli forces.

The group said in a statement that its militants had “inflicted losses” before being targeted by Israeli airstrikes.

Since the outbreak of the latest Hamas-Israel war on Oct. 7, there have been sporadic border clashes between Israeli forces and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a Hamas ally, and with Palestinian armed groups in Lebanon including Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

A new appeal to Gaza residents

In a nationally broadcast address Saturday night, Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, accused Hamas of trying to use civilians as human shields and issued a new appeal to Gaza residents to move south.

“We are going to attack Gaza City very broadly soon,” he said, without giving a timetable for the attack against the 40-kilometer-long (25-mile-long) territory.

“The Palestinian civilians in Gaza are not our enemies,” an Israeli military spokesman, John Conricus, said. “We don’t assess them as such, and we don’t target them as such. We are trying to do the right thing.”

Israel attacks airport in Northern Syria

A Syrian opposition war monitor and a pro-government media outlet say Israel’s military has attacked the international airport of the northern city of Aleppo, putting it out of service.

Al-Watan daily said the Saturday night strike hit the runway of Aleppo airport — putting it out of service just hours after it was fixed following a similar Israeli strike on Thursday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also reported that the strike also hit the runway at Aleppo airport.

The attack on Aleppo airport came shortly after a rocket was reportedly fired from Syria into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

There was no immediate comment from Israel’s military, which rarely confirms such strikes.

Who sends supplies for Gaza

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Palestinians flee from northern Gaza to the south after the Israeli army issued an unprecedented evacuation warning to a population of over 1 million people in northern Gaza and Gaza City to seek refuge in the south ahead of a possible Israeli ground invasion.

A planeload of World Health Organization supplies has landed at Egypt’s el-Arish airport and is destined for Gaza when humanitarian access across the border is possible, the U.N. said Saturday.

The cache includes enough basic essentials for 300,000 people and enough trauma medicines and materials for 1,200 wounded, the U.N. said in a release. It called for opening the Rafah border crossing immediately to humanitarian deliveries.

“The critically injured, the sick and the vulnerable cannot wait,” the world body said.

Air strikes in Syria

The Israeli military says it is striking targets in Syria after air raid sirens went off in two villages in northern Israel and the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights.

In a statement, the military did not say what set off the sirens. It said it was firing artillery to strike back.

The incident is the latest in a continued flare-up along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon and Syria after an unprecedented attack by Hamas on Israeli communities set off a war with Israel.

Hostages in need of medicine

The relatives of Israelis taken captive by Hamas are demanding Saturday that the militant group allow in medicine to hostages who require it, saying their loved ones are suffering.

“Every day without her medication is torture. She’s being tortured,” said Yifat Zailer, who said her kidnapped 63-year-old aunt has Parkinson’s disease. She was taken along with several other family members, Zailer said.

In its assault on southern Israeli communities, Hamas militants captured dozens of Israelis and some foreign or dual nationals, including children, women and the elderly, dragging them into the Gaza Strip.

Israeli military spokesman Read Adm. Daniel Hagari said Saturday Israel had so far identified 126 captives. Their fate becomes more complicated as Israel continues its bombardment of Gaza.