French President Emmanuel Macron is hosting a conference on humanitarian aid for Gaza in Paris on Thursday that will welcome officials from more than 50 countries as well as from UN agencies and NGOs. Israel, which has been bombarding the Palestinian territory since Hamas’s October 7 attack, will be absent. Follow our live blog for the latest developments. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).
- The Israeli military said its troops had advanced into the heart of Gaza City, Hamas‘s main bastion and the biggest city in the coastal enclave, while the Islamist militant group said its fighters had inflicted heavy losses on the Israeli forces.
- The United States said Wednesday it opposed any Israeli “reoccupation” of the Gaza Strip after the conclusion of the Israel-Hamas war.
- The US launched air strikes on a site in Syria on Wednesday in response to Iranian-backed militia attacks on bases housing US troops, Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said.
- The number of Palestinians killed in the war has surpassed 10,500, a toll that includes more than 4,300 children, the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said Wednesday.
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8:49am: Israeli troops facing ‘intense urban warfare’ in Gaza as Hamas exploits tunnel network
Israeli troops are facing difficult conditions in Gaza as Hamas fighters exploit a vast tunnel network to stage quick attacks.
“I’m hearing from someone I know [who] came out of the fighting,” ABC News foreign correspondent Jordana Miller reports to FRANCE 24 from Jerusalem. “He said, ‘it’s so difficult because some of the … Hamas fighters are jumping out of tunnel shafts, they’re firing anti-tank missiles, and then they’re jumping back in and disappearing’.”
8:34am: Macron to speak with Israel’s Netanyahu after Gaza aid conference in Paris
Israeli authorities will not be in attendance at a conference on humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip in Paris on Thursday, but French President Emmanuel Macron, who will deliver remarks at the opening of the event, is set to speak with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu after its conclusion. FRANCE 24’s Clovis Casali reports.
7:53am: Negotiations under way for Gaza ceasefire in exchange for hostage releases, officials tell AP
Negotiations are under way for a three-day humanitarian ceasefire in the Gaza Strip in exchange for the release of about a dozen hostages held by Hamas, according to two officials from Egypt, one from the UN and a Western diplomat, who spoke to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The deal would enable more aid, including limited amounts of fuel, to enter the besieged territory to alleviate worsening conditions for the 2.3 million Palestinians trapped there. Qatar, Egypt and the United States are brokering it, according to the officials and the diplomat.
7:26am: Officials from more than 50 countries expected to attend Gaza humanitarian aid conference in Paris
Officials from Western and Arab countries, the United Nations and nongovernmental organisations are gathering Thursday in Paris for a conference on how to provide aid to civilians in the Gaza Strip during the Israel-Hamas war, including proposals for a humanitarian maritime corridor and floating field hospitals.
French President Emmanuel Macron, who has called for a “humanitarian pause” in the conflict, wants the conference to address the besieged Palestinian enclave’s growing needs including food, water, health supplies, electricity and fuel.
More than 50 nations are expected to attend including several European countries, the United States and regional powers like Jordan, Egypt and the Gulf countries, the French presidency said. Also attending is Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh.
Israeli authorities won’t participate in Thursday’s conference, the Élysée Palace said.
All governments nevertheless have “an interest in the humanitarian situation improving in Gaza, including Israel,” a Macron aide told reporters on condition of anonymity ahead of the gathering.
The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the UN’s top aid official and the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross are expected to provide details about urgent needs in the Gaza Strip.
More than 1.5 million people – or about 70 percent of Gaza’s population – have fled their homes, and an estimated $1.2 billion is needed to respond to the crisis.
2:35am: Israeli forces and Hamas fighters battling in Gaza City
Palestinians living in the heart of Gaza’s largest city said Wednesday they could see and hear Israeli ground forces closing in from multiple directions, accelerating the exodus of thousands of civilians as food and water become scarce and urban fighting between Israel and Hamas heats up.
The Israeli army has not given specifics on troop movements as it presses its ground assault, vowing to crush Hamas after its deadly October 7 attack on Israel. But residents said Israeli forces had moved into inner neighbourhoods of Gaza City amid intense bombardment all around the surrounding north.
Clashes took place within a kilometre (0.6 miles) of the territory’s largest hospital, Shifa, which has become a focal point in the war.
2:15am: US says Palestinians should govern Gaza after the war
Palestinians should govern Gaza once Israel ends its war against Hamas, the United States said on Wednesday, pushing back against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‘s idea that Israel would be responsible for security indefinitely.
A month after Hamas gunmen from Gaza launched their deadly attack on Israel, Washington has begun discussing with Israeli and Arab leaders a future for the Gaza Strip without Hamas rule.
While a plan has yet to emerge, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday outlined in the most comprehensive comments on the issue to date Washington’s red lines and expectations for the besieged coastal territory.
“No reoccupation of Gaza after the conflict ends. No attempt to blockade or besiege Gaza. No reduction in the territory of Gaza,” Blinken said at a press conference in Tokyo.
Blinken said there may be a need for “some transition period” at the end of the conflict, but that post-crisis governance in Gaza must include Palestinian voices.
12:25am: US senator says Gaza civilian toll ‘too high’
“I think that the civilian death toll has been too high and a more surgical approach would be important and vital,” Murphy, a Democratic member of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told AFP.
12:04am: US strikes Iran-linked site in Syria
The United States, for the second time in recent weeks, carried out strikes on Wednesday against a facility in eastern Syria that the Pentagon said was used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups.
As tensions soar over the Israel-Hamas war, US and coalition troops have been attacked at least 40 times in Iraq and Syria by Iran-backed forces since the beginning of October. Forty-five US troops have suffered traumatic brain injuries or minor wounds.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said in a statement that the strikes were conducted by two US F-15 fighters and were in response to the recent attacks against US forces.
Austin said the attacks against US troops must stop.
“If attacks by Iran’s proxies against US forces continue, we will not hesitate to take further necessary measures to protect our people,” he added.
(FRANCE 24 with AP, AFP and Reuters)
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