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Israel-Palestine war: Israel intensifies Gaza bombardment, as Blinken meets Abbas

Internet and communications cut off for the third time in enclave, while Israeli strike kills three children in southern Lebanon
Smoke and flames rise during Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel on 5 November 2023 (Reuters)
Smoke and flames rise during Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel on 5 November 2023 (Reuters)

Israeli bombardment intensified across the Gaza Strip on Sunday evening, as all internet and communications were cut off in the besieged enclave for the third time since the war began a month ago. 

Several of those attacks focused on Gaza City and its surrounding area, according to media reports. 

Israeli shelling also took place in northern Gaza, near the Indonesian Hospital as well as the Jabalia refugee camp, Al Jazeera reported.

In the refugee camp, strikes targeted and destroyed the main water source, in an apparent attempt to cut all sources of survival for civilians and force them to leave to the south.

Israel has ordered more than one million Palestinians in the north to move south, but has repeatedly bombed areas in the southern Gaza Strip, as well as targeting roads linking the north and south.

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At the same time as the bombings, all internet and communications in the besieged Gaza Strip were cut for the third time.

"We regret to announce a complete disruption of all communication and internet services within the Gaza Strip, due to the main routes, which had been recently reconnected, being disconnected once again by the Israeli side," Palestinian telecommunications company Paltel said in a statement on Facebook. 

Elsewhere on Sunday, an Israeli strike on a car near Bint Jbeil, in southern Lebanon, killed three children and their grandmother, according to Lebanese media and lawmakers. 

Foreign Minister Abdallah Bou Habib told Reuters that Beirut was collecting information and pictures and would likely submit a complaint to the United Nations on Monday.

The three children were aged between eight and 14 according to Hassan Fadlallah, a Hezbollah parliamentarian who represents the Bint Jbeil area. 

"The enemy will pay the price for its crimes against civilians," Fadlallah told Reuters. 

Follow our live blog for all the latest on the Israel-Palestine war

At least 9,770 people have been killed since the war began on 7 October, including 4,008 children, according to the Palestinian health ministry. More than 70 percent of Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced, it added.

Food, fuel and water supplies are also rapidly dwindling in the enclave amid a total Israeli siege.

The health ministry said over 200,000 residences had been destroyed, equivalent to 50 percent of the enclave's housing stock. It added that 42 buildings belonging to Unrwa, the UN agency for Palestinians, had been damaged. 

The war broke out after Palestinian groups launched a surprise attack on southern Israeli communities on 7 October, killing 1,400 Israelis and taking around 240 captives back to Gaza.

Blinken meets Abbas

Also on Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas demanded an immediate ceasefire at a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

Blinken made an unannounced visit to Ramallah in the occupied West Bank, a day after a meeting in Jordan with Arab foreign ministers angered by mounting civilian deaths in Gaza, who also pressed for a ceasefire.

Abbas told Blinken that the Palestinian Authority (PA) was ready to take responsibility in Gaza only if a “comprehensive political solution” was found.

Blinken said the PA should play a central role in "what comes next in Gaza".

"We will fully assume our responsibilities within the framework of a comprehensive political solution that includes all of the West Bank, including east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip," the Wafa news agency reported Abbas as telling Blinken.

The US top diplomat also made an unannounced visit to Baghdad, where he met Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani. 

Rocket and drone attacks on US troops and its allies in Iraq and Syria have seen an uptick since 7 October, according to US officials.

"It was very important to send a very clear message to anyone who might seek to take advantage of the conflict in Gaza to threaten our personnel here or anywhere else in the region: Don’t do it," Blinken told reporters in the Iraqi capital.

Clawing through rubble

Earlier on Sunday, people were clawing through rubble in search of survivors and victims of an Israeli overnight attack on al-Maghazi refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian health ministry said at least 47 people, including children, were killed in strikes that destroyed a cluster of homes in the camp.

Israel-Palestine war: The brutal reality of daily life for Gaza's residents
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Among the victims were the four children of Anadolu agency photographer Mohammed al-Aloul, whose home partially collapsed when a strike targeted his neighbour’s house, the journalist said.

"I arrived in hospital and found out that my four children, including my only daughter, were martyred," Aloul told Reuters.

Aloul also lost four of his brothers and several of his nieces and nephews in the attack.

In a separate attack, 21 Palestinians from one family, including women and children, were killed in Israeli strikes targeting Gaza overnight, the health ministry said.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said there was also intense bombardment, violent artillery explosions, and air strikes in the vicinity of the Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza's Tal Al-Hawa area. 

Protest at US base in Turkey

Blinken is expected to visit Turkey on Monday, days after Ankara said it had recalled its ambassador to Israel and was breaking off contact with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Sunday, Turkish police used teargas and water cannon to disperse a pro-Palestinian rally outside the Incirlik airbase.

Local media reported that police had allowed the protesters to hold a demonstration in a designated area but some allegedly tried to enter the facility.

The Incirlik airbase in southeast Turkey is owned by Turkey but is also used by the US Air Force and occasionally the UK's Royal Air Force, providing them with strategic access to large parts of the Middle East.

Protestors hold a Palestinian flag as Turkish anti-riot police use water cannon to disperse them during a Pro-Palestinian demonstration
Protestors hold a Palestinian flag as Turkish anti-riot police use water cannons to disperse them during a Pro-Palestinian demonstration near Incirlik air base housing US forces, 5 November 2023 (AFP)

The protest was organised by the IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, a Turkish aid agency.

Footage shared online showed protesters toppling barricades and throwing plastic chairs and rocks at police, who fired smoke bombs at crowds. The demonstrators waved Turkish and Palestinian flags.

'Our rage is huge. We cannot hold it in. But Turkey is doing what it can'

- Bulent Yildirim, Turkish aid agency chief

IHH president Bulent Yildirim addressed the crowds in Adana, urging them not to attack police.

"Friends, it is wrong to throw rocks or do similar things because both the police and soldiers would want to go to Gaza and fight and they will go when the time comes," Yildirim said.

"Our rage is huge. We cannot hold it in. But Turkey is doing what it can," he added.

Israeli minister says nuking Gaza 'an option'

Meanwhile, Netanyahu on Sunday once again rejected growing calls for a ceasefire in Gaza until all of the more than 240 Israeli hostages were released. 

"There will be no ceasefire without the return of our hostages, we say this to both our enemies and our friends. We will continue until we beat them," Netanyahu told air and ground crews at the Ramon air force base in southern Israel on Sunday.

Earlier, Israel's Jerusalem Affairs and Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu said that dropping a nuclear weapon on the Gaza Strip was "an option", according to Haaretz.

The minister made the comments in a radio interview during which he maintained that "there are no non-combatants in Gaza", adding that providing humanitarian aid to the Strip would constitute "a failure".

Israel-Palestine war: Israeli minister says nuking Gaza 'an option'
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Eliyahu was then asked, since he believed there were no non-combatants, whether a nuclear attack on the Gaza Strip was an option. "That's one way," he responded.

When asked about the fate of Palestinians, he said: "They can go to Ireland or deserts, the monsters in Gaza should find a solution by themselves."

He also said the Gaza Strip had no right to exist, adding that anyone waving a Palestinian or Hamas flag "shouldn't continue living on the face of the earth".

The remarks were heavily criticised online, with Netanyahu later saying they were "detached from reality".

After making the comments, the minister took to social media platform X, formerly Twitter, to say that his comments were "metaphorical".

He added: "However, a strong and disproportionate response to terrorism is definitely required, which will clarify to the Nazis and their supporters that terrorism is not worthwhile." 

The minister was later suspended from government meetings indefinitely, Israeli media reported.

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