Israel said it recaptured Gaza border areas from Hamas militants on Tuesday, the fourth day of fierce fighting that has left thousands dead on both sides since the Hamas launched a surprise attack. The death toll in Israel has surged above 900 from the worst attack in the country's 75-year history, while Gaza officials have also reported 900 people killed so far, and Israel's army said the bodies of roughly 1,500 militants had been found.
Given below are the latest developments from the conflict zone:
Biden pledges support for Israel
US President Joe Biden on Tuesday denounced Hamas and stressed US support for Israel as it mourns the killing of more than 1,000 people, including at least 14 Americans, from a surprise attack launched by the Palestinian militant group.
The president also voiced concern for Americans being held hostage by Hamas.
"There are moments in this life and I mean this literally when the pure unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world. The people of Israel lived through one such moment this weekend," Biden said.
"This is an act of sheer evil," he said.
Biden spoke after his third phone call in four days with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He outlined in his remarks the US military assistance being sent to help Israel in its fight.
Biden also offered an overview of the actions the United States is taking with allies around the world to support Israel.
Blinken to pay solidarity visit to Israel
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will pay a visit of solidarity to Israel on Thursday following a major attack by Hamas, the State Department said.
"It will be a message of solidarity and support," State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters Tuesday
EU opposes total siege of Gaza
EU foreign ministers on Tuesday urged Israel not to cut "water, food, or electicity" to Gaza and urged humanitarian corridors for those trying to flee the territory, the bloc's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said.
After emergency talks between the 27 ministers, Borrell also said that the "overwhelming majority" of EU states oppose suspending aid to the Palestinian Authority, after the shock Hamas attack on Israel.
Ford carrier strike group arrives
The Ford carrier strike group has arrived in the far Eastern Mediterranean, within range to provide a host of air support or long-range strike options for Israel if requested, but also to surge US military presence to prevent the now four-day old war with Hamas from spilling over into a more dangerous regional conflict, a US official told the Associated Press.
The official spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the arrival ahead of an official announcement.
The Pentagon has said that the US warplanes, destroyers and cruisers that sailed with the Ford will conduct maritime and air operations which could range from intelligence collection and interdictions to long range strike.
Along with the Ford, the US is sending the cruiser USS Normandy and destroyers USS Thomas Hudner, USS Ramage, USS Carney, and USS Roosevelt, and augmenting regional Air Force F-35, F-15, F-16, and A-10 fighter aircraft squadrons in the region.
US deployment could lead to 'massacres'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised Israel’s blockade of Gaza saying cutting off electricity and water is against the Palestinians’ human rights.
Speaking at a joint news conference with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Tuesday, Erdogan criticised US plans to send an aircraft carrier to the region, saying the deployment could lead to “massacres.”
“What is the US aircraft carrier doing in Israel? What is it coming to do? It will take down Gaza by striking the surrounding areas and start committing serious massacres,” he said.
The Turkish leader reiterated his offer to mediate between the sides and said he would continue his efforts to end the war.
Rockets fired from Lebanon to Israel
A Lebanese security official said six rockets were fired from southern Lebanon into northern Israel Tuesday evening.
The officials said it was not immediately clear who fired the rockets from the area of the Lebanese southern village of Qlaileh. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. A statement from UNIFIL, the UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon, also confirmed the rocket fire and urged “everyone to exercise restraint at this critical time.”
Officials from the Hezbollah militant group did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Spokespeople with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said they had no information on the rockets.
Gaza-Egypt crossing hit by Israel for third time in 24 hours: AFP
Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt, its only one not controlled by Israel, was hit by an Israeli air strike Tuesday for the third time in 24 hours, an AFP photographer and an NGO said.
The third strike consisted of "four missiles" which targeted the Palestinian side of the crossing, local Egyptian group Sinai for Human Rights reported.
Witnesses had said the second strike hit the no-man's land between the Egyptian and Palestinian gates, damaging the hall on the Palestinian side.
Contacted by AFP, the Israel military said it could "neither confirm or deny" any strike on the crossing "at this point".
Sinai for Human Rights said Tuesday's strikes had prompted the closure of the crossing, but there was no immediate confirmation from either side.
Working with partners to prevent escalation: Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday it is exerting all efforts with regional and international partners to prevent the escalation of the situation in Gaza and neighbouring areas.
A statement for the weekly meeting of the government carried by the official news agency said that the kingdom will "continue its support for the Palestinian people to secure its legitimate rights and achieve the just and lasting peace".
Two members from Hamas political office killed in air strike
Two members from Hamas' political office, Jawad Abu Shammala and Zakaria Abu Maamar, were killed in an air strike in Khan Younis in southern Gaza Strip, an official from the group told Reuters on Tuesday.
In a statement, the Israeli military confirmed killing Abu Shammala, saying he had been struck "overnight".
More than 187,500 displaced in Gaza since Saturday: UN
More than 187,500 people have been displaced in the Gaza Strip since Hamas's surprise assault on Israel on Saturday sparked massive air strikes on the territory, the United Nations said on Tuesday.
"Displacement has escalated dramatically across the Gaza Strip reaching more than 187,500 since Saturday," with most taking shelter in UN schools, the UN humanitarian agency OCHA said in a statement, adding: "These new displacements add to some 3,000 Palestinians who were displaced from previous escalations."
Macron condemns 'unacceptable blackmail' by Hamas with Gaza hostages
French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday denounced "unacceptable blackmail" by Hamas after the Palestinian militant group threatened to execute some of the around 150 hostages it abducted in a weekend assault.
"The blackmail by Hamas after its terrorist acts is odious and unacceptable," Macron told reporters on a visit to Germany.
The French president added that he considered it "likely" that Hamas had received outside "help" in its attack against Israel.
But he stressed there was "no formal trace" of any "direct involvement" by Iran, at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Israel military builds base near Gaza as US sends aid
Israel is now building a base to accommodate thousands of soldiers in preparation for the next phase of its retaliation.
The country will respond "very severely and aggressively," a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday, echoing comments from Benjamin Netanyahu. While the prime minister didn't announce a ground invasion, many Israelis and Palestinians expect one. Iran's supreme leader warned against such a move.
Israel's mass and rapid mobilisation means the military is stretched for equipment, and the US said security assistance and aid is on the way. President Joe Biden said at least 11 Americans had died and others were likely being held hostage. Hamas said late Monday the militant group was prepared to kill hostages.
Israeli, Palestinian FMs invited to EU meeting
The EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he has invited the top diplomats from Israel and the Palestinian Authority to address an emergency meeting Tuesday of the bloc's foreign ministers.
Borrell said Israel's Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Palestinian counterpart Riyad al-Maliki were asked to participate in the hybrid video and in-person talks after the surprise Hamas assault.
770 Palestinians killed in Gaza
At least 770 Palestinians have been killed and 4,000 wounded in Israeli air strikes on the blockaded enclave since Saturday, Gaza's Health Ministry said on Tuesday.
At least another 18 people were killed and 100 injured in the West Bank since Saturday, the ministry added.
WHO calls for humanitarian corridor
The World Health Organization called on Tuesday for a humanitarian corridor to be established into and out of the Gaza Strip, which has been placed under total siege by Israel.
"WHO is calling for an end to the violence...A humanitarian corridor is needed to reach people with critical medical supplies," WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic told a press briefing in Geneva.
Hospitals, schools damaged
The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees said Tuesday that it has been struggling to accommodate over 187,518 Palestinians in Gaza displaced by ongoing Israeli strikes as hospitals and schools that it runs across the Gaza Strip were damaged in the fighting.
The agency said in a situation report that they are sheltering some 137,500 people in 83 schools that they run in the Gaza Strip, but have become overcrowded, with some only providing limited potable water. They have struggled to provide adequate mattresses, cleaning supplies, and jerrycans for fuel as well. The ongoing conflict has disrupted their operations in the tiny territory, with UNRWA saying that nearly half a million people were unable to receive food aid this week because they had to close distribution centers.
Hamas 'has nowhere to hide' in Gaza
The Israeli military said on Tuesday that Hamas operatives had "nowhere to hide in Gaza" and that the air force was carrying out unprecedently intensive air strikes in the Palestinian enclave in waves every four hours.
"We will reach them (Hamas) everywhere," chief military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a briefing.
Total siege of Gaza 'prohibited': UN
Israel's total siege of the Gaza Strip, depriving civilians of goods essential for survival, is banned under international law, the United Nations human rights chief said on Tuesday.
Volker Turk, the UN high commissioner for human rights, said people's dignity and lives had to be respected as he called for all sides to defuse the "explosive powder-keg situation".
Threat to execute the hostages
Palestinian militant group Hamas, which abducted about 150 people in its surprise weekend assault on Israel, threatened to execute the hostages if Israeli air strikes continue "targeting" Gaza residents without warning.
The threat came after Israel on Monday imposed a total siege on the Gaza Strip, cutting off food, water and electricity supplies, and sparking fears of an increasingly desperate humanitarian situation.
The siege risk compounding human rights
"International humanitarian law is clear: the obligation to take constant care to spare the civilian population and civilian objects remains applicable throughout the attacks," Turk said in a statement.
The siege risk seriously compounding the already dire human rights and humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the capacity of medical facilities to operate, especially in light of increasing numbers of injured, the statement said.
"The imposition of sieges that endanger the lives of civilians by depriving them of goods essential for their survival is prohibited under international humanitarian law," Turk said.
Any restrictions on the movement of people and goods to implement a siege must be justified by military necessity or may otherwise amount to collective punishment, the statement added.
Gaza parliament, ministries legitimate targets
In a briefing Tuesday, Israel's military spokesperson said Gaza’s parliament and civilian ministries were legitimate targets in its offensive against Hamas.
Spokesperson Richard Hecht also said that because Israel’s air force is stretched thin, there might not be the same “level of fidelity” in warning targets before strikes. Asked if Israel considered Hamas’ civil government, such as parliament and ministries, legitimate targets, Hecht said “if there’s a gunman firing rockets from there, it turns into a military target.
Israel claims full control over border
The Israeli military said it had largely gained control in the south and “restored full control” over the border. Spokesperson Richard Hecht said no Hamas fighters have crossed into Israel since Monday night, although infiltrations could still be possible.
Hecht said the military struck hundreds of Hamas targets overnight in Gaza’s City Rimal neighborhood, which is home to many of Hamas’ ministries and government buildings. He said residents were being notified over social media before the strikes to evacuate, but did not elaborate further. He suggested that Palestinians should try to leave through the Rafah crossing, though he did not specify where they would go or how they would use the crossing that is periodically closed.
Israel pounds Gaza
Israel kept up its deadly bombardment of Hamas-controlled Gaza Tuesday after the Palestinian militant group threatened to execute some of the around 150 hostages it abducted in a weekend assault if air strikes continue without warning.
Israel already imposed a total siege on the Gaza Strip on Monday, cutting off food, water and electricity supplies, and sparking fears of that an already dire humanitarian situation will swiftly deteriorate.
Israel has been left reeling by Hamas's unprecedented ground, air and sea assault, likening it to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
The Israeli army said Tuesday it had "more or less restored control" over the Gaza border after Saturday's mass breach by Palestinian gunmen.
It said it had "nearly completed" evacuation of Israeli communities around the border.
Fireballs repeatedly lit up Gaza City before dawn on Tuesday as explosions sounded and sirens wailed.
Gazans fleeing strikes head to Egypt
The Israeli military suggested on Tuesday that Palestinians fleeing its air strikes in the Gaza Strip head to Egypt, which also borders the blockaded enclave.
"I am aware that the Rafah crossing (on the Gaza-Egypt border) is still open," Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Hecht, chief military spokesperson to the foreign media, said in a briefing.
"Anyone who can get out, I would advise them to get out."
Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared on Monday that Israel's fierce offensive against Hamas in the Gaza Strip has “only started.” "This vile enemy wanted war and it will get war," he said.
Netanyahu delivered the pronouncement in a nationally televised address as Israel pressed ahead with a third day of heavy airstrikes in Gaza following Hamas' unprecedented and deadly incursion into Israel. “We have only started striking Hamas,” he said. “What we will do to our enemies in the coming days will reverberate with them for generations.”
Death toll from the Hamas attack had climbed to around 1,000 Israelis, with at least 2,600 injured — a staggering toll by the scale of its recent conflicts. Among the Israeli dead were 260 mostly young people gunned down at a desert music festival, where some of the hostages were abducted.G aza's Health Ministry said at least 687 Palestinians had been killed and 3,726 wounded in Israeli air strikes on the blockaded enclave since Saturday. Apartment blocks, a mosque and hospitals were among the sites attacked, and the strikes destroyed some roads and houses, according to media reports and eyewitnesses.
Israel appears likely to stage a ground assault on Gaza in response to deadly weekend attacks by Hamas, risking close-quarters fighting in densely populated areas, including in underground tunnels and around hostages.
Israel's government on Monday said it would "immediately cut (its) water supply to Gaza" as part of a "complete siege" on the Hamas-controlled territory.
Next, "Israel will launch the largest joint (air/sea/land/space) operation against Gaza in history," John Spencer, an expert at the Modern War Institute at US military academy West Point, predicted on X, formerly Twitter.
Alexander Grinberg, of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, said that "strikes will first of all target Hamas command centres and troops, with fire coming from everywhere".
"At the same time, the army will prepare to enter Gaza," he said.
Such urban fighting will force combatants into hand-to-hand combat, reduce visibility, increase the risk of traps, blur boundaries between civilians and soldiers and render armoured vehicles next to useless.
18 Thais killed in conflict
Eighteen Thais have been killed in the conflict between Israel and Hamas militants, the kingdom's government said Tuesday, raising the previous toll of 12.
Jakkapong Sangmanee, Thailand's deputy minister of foreign affairs, gave the updated toll and said the government was working to evacuate thousands of Thais away from the conflict, which erupted on Saturday.
A foreign ministry spokeswoman said separately that nine Thai citizens had been wounded and 11 taken hostage.
Around 30,000 Thais work in Israel, mostly in agriculture.
Jakkapong said about 3,000 Thais had put in requests to be taken back to Thailand.
Forced from home
Palestinians reported receiving calls and mobile phone audio messages from Israeli security officers telling them to leave areas mainly in the northern and eastern territories of Gaza, and warning that the army would operate there.
Dozens of people in Gaza City's Remal neighbourhood fled their homes.
In Israel's south, scene of the Hamas attack, Israel's chief military spokesperson said troops had re-established control of communities inside Israel that had been overrun, but isolated clashes continued as some gunmen remained active.
Sirens warning of incoming rocket fire blared in Israeli communities near the Gaza border overnight.
The announcement that 300,000 reservists had been activated in just two days added to speculation that Israel could be contemplating a ground assault of Gaza, a territory it abandoned nearly two decades ago.
Gaza displaced surpasses 187,000
As retaliatory Israeli airstrikes continue, more than 187,500 people have been displaced in Gaza since the beginning of the conflict, according to a report from the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, is hosting more than 137,000 people in schools across the territory. The report says airstrikes have razed 790 housing units and severely damaged 5,330 in the territory of 2.3 million people.
OCHA said damage to water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in Gaza has disrupted service for more than 400,000 people.
Israel strikes two tunnels
The Israeli military said early Tuesday that it struck two tunnels used by Hamas militants to enter Israeli territory.
The news came a day after 70 militants infiltrated the Be'eri kibbutz Monday night. The small farming community has been a flashpoint of the conflict — the scene of a hostage standoff during the attack.
Authorities did not immediately provide more information on the location of the tunnels.
The militant group has used tunnels in the past . It has an established a network running from Gaza to Egypt to smuggle in weapons, as well as attack tunnels burrowing into Israel.
11 US citizens killed
At least 11 U.S. citizens have been confirmed dead in the surprise Hamas attacks, U.S. President Joe Biden said Monday.
Biden also said the U.S. government believes it is “likely” that Americans are among those currently being held hostage by Hamas militants, while other U.S. citizens are still unaccounted for after the deadly assault.
“My heart goes out to every family impacted by the horrible events of the past few days,” Biden said in a statement. “The pain these families have endured, the enormity of their loss, and the agony of those still awaiting information is unfathomable.”
He stressed that the State Department is offering assistance for U.S. citizens who are currently in Israel, and air and ground options to leave the country are still available for those who choose to do so. He also said federal law enforcement officials are “closely monitoring” potential domestic threats stemming from the weekend attacks.
EU reverses suspension of aid
The European Union late Monday reversed an earlier announcement by an EU commissioner that the bloc was immediately suspending aid for Palestinian authorities and instead said it would urgently review such assistance in the wake of the attacks on Israel by Hamas.
“There will be no suspension of payments” at the moment, a terse European Commission statement said late Monday, five hours after EU Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi had said that all payments from the development program for Palestinians would be immediately suspended.
No immediate explanation for the reversal was given. The reversal on a 691 million-euro ($730 million) program capped an embarrassing day at the EU’s executive at a time of extreme geopolitical sensitivities.
UN says efforts underway
The United Nations says intense diplomatic activity is taking place aimed at ensuring that regional and international leaders are on the same page in trying to prevent the conflict between Israel and Hamas from spreading.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters Monday that he and U.N. Mideast envoy Tor Wennesland are engaging with key parties in the region.
Guterres has spoken to Israel’s president and Jordan’s king and expects to talk to the Palestinian president, Israel’s prime minister, Egypt’s president and Lebanon’s prime minister, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. Wennesland has been in touch with his counterparts from the United States, European Union, Qatar, Lebanon and others.
Hamas warns of hostage deaths
The armed wing of the Palestinian militant group Hamas has warned that it will kill an Israeli hostage every time Israel's military bombs civilian targets in the Gaza Strip without warning.
Abu Obeida, the spokesman of the Qassam Brigades, said in an audio released Monday night that the threat was a response to intense air strikes by Israel on civilian areas.
“We have decided to put an end to this and as of now, we declare that any targeting of our people in their homes without prior warning will be regrettably faced with the execution of one the hostages of civilians we are holding,” he said.
In a video statement Monday, Israel’s foreign minister warned Hamas against harming any of the hostages who were taken from Israel and being held in Gaza. Eli Cohen said Israel was committed to bringing the hostages home “in the spirit of mutual responsibility.”
“We demand Hamas not to harm any of the hostages, Cohen said. “This war crime will not be forgiven,” he added.
Turkey's leader holds calls
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held back-to-back telephone calls with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Isaac Herzog, according to Erdogan’s press office.
Erdogan and Abbas discussed the ongoing conflict between Israel and the militant group Hamas. “President Erdogan stated that Turkey is making every effort to end the conflicts in the region and ensure calm as soon as possible” a statement from his press office said.