2023-10-31 13:38:36

Gaza population being dehumanized UN agency warns

The entire population of Gaza is “being dehumanized,” the chief of the main UN agency operating there told the UN Security Council Monday, as pressure intensified on the besieged strip with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruling out to a ceasefire, saying “thisis a time for war.”

Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner general of the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) told the Security Council that thousands of children killed in Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in the past three weeks “cannot be collateral damage.”

Major UN agencies are calling for a humanitarian ceasefire to allow deliveries of aidfor more than 2 million civilians trapped with scarce supplies of food, water and medical equipment, and for the safe release of 238 hostages that Israel believes are being held by Hamas, the militant group that controls the enclave.

“An immediate humanitarian ceasefire has become a matter of life and death for millions,” Lazzarini said. The director of the UNOfficefor the Coordination ofHumanitarianAffairs (OCHA), Lisa Doughten, told the Security Council that the “scale of the horror” being experienced by Gazans is “hard to convey.”

“We simply do not have enough essential supplies to provide for the survival of internally displaced people at this scale,”Doughtensaid.

Palestinians leave their homes following Israeli bombardments on Gaza, on October 30, 2023.

However, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu made clear on Monday that Israel would not agree to a ceasefire, as it responds with unrelenting force to Hamas’ October 7 terror attacks, which killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and saw hundreds taken hostage.

Drawing parallels to the United States’ position after Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the September 11attacks in 2001, Netanyahu said that while the Bible says there is a time for peace,he said “thisis a time for war.”

“Calls for a ceasefire or calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorists, surrender to barbarism, that will not happen,” he said.

Here’s the latest:

IDF offensive intensifying

Israel vowed on Monday that its ground offensive in Gaza will“intensify,” as CNN analysis suggested troops had advanced more than two miles into the Strip.

At the same time, the IDF continued bombarding Gaza with artillery rounds, mortars and what appeared to be guided munitions. Fighter jets, drones and helicopters were also operating in the area, accordingteams on the ground, with one plane flying in circles over the enclave for much of Monday afternoon.

Israeli military flares light up the night sky in northern Gaza on October 30, 2023.

A CNN team in the Israeli city of Sderot, about a kilometer from the Gaza perimeter, heard sustained heavy artillery fire near the border in the early hours of Tuesday local time.

The Israeli military said Monday its troops killedfour prominent Hamas operativesas part of itsexpanded ground operationsin Gaza.

Meanwhile, a Hamas spokesperson said Israel was not successful in entering Gaza “except in some limited areas” and described the humanitarian situation in the enclave as “disastrous.”

Dozens of aid workers, journalists killed

Israel’s bombardment of Gaza has killed at least8,260 people, mostly civilians, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah, which draws sources fromthe Hamas-controlled enclave. More than 70% those killed are from vulnerable populations, including children, women and elderly individuals, the ministry said Monday.

Among the dead are 64 UN aid workers, the highest number of UN aid workers killed in a conflict anywhere in the world in such a short period of time, according to UNRWA’s Lazzarini.

The most recent death was a man called Samir who was killed alongside his wife and eight children, Lazzarini told the UN Security Council.

“Those who are alive, have, for the most part, lost relatives, friends, neighbors and are displaced like the majority of Gazans,” he said, adding that despite the threat to their lives, they continue to “work tirelessly.”

Young Palestinians walk in front of a damaged house in the aftermath of Israeli strikes in Khan Younis, Gaza, on October 30, 2023.

The conflict has also been the “deadliest period” for journalists covering Israel and Gaza since records began in 1992, according to the Committee to ProtectJournalists(CPJ).

At least 31journalistshave been killed since October 7, including 26 Palestinians, four Israelis, and one Lebanese, the CPJ said, adding that it is investigating “numerous unconfirmed reports” of missingjournalistsand others who may been killed, detained, injured, or threatened.

Speaking before the UN Security Council Monday, thePalestinianAuthority’s Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki said, “2.3 millionPalestinians in Gaza face death every day and every night” and pleaded with the council to “save them.”

“Look at them as human beings. You cannot look only at one side and ignore this tragic humanity completely,” Al-Maliki said.

Hospitals bear the brunt

Numerous hospitals in Gaza have borne the brunt of airstrikes and shelling, according to aid groups and health workers.

In a social media post early Tuesday morning, the Palestine Red Crescent Society said the Tal Al Hawa neighborhood of Gaza City, in whichtheAl-Qudshospitalis located, was under heavy “artillery and airstrikes.”

“The building is trembling,” and those sheltering inside thehospitalare “experiencing fear and panic,” the PRCS said.

The organization said over the weekend that Israeli airstrikes have “caused extensive damage to hospital departments and exposed residents and patients to suffocation” at Al-Quds and accused Israel of “deliberately” launching airstrikes “directly next to” the facility in order to force an evacuation of the hospital, the second-largest in Gaza City.

The facility is treating hundreds of patients, while some 12,000 internally displaced civilians are also sheltering there, the agency said.

Gaza’s leadingcancerhospital was also damaged in an Israeli attack, hospital director Sobhi Skaik told CNN on Monday, with its third floor suffering a direct hit causing damage to oxygen and water supplies. He said that no one was injured in the attack.

CNN has asked the Israeli military for comment. Israel has repeatedly accused Hamas of operating from bunkers and tunnels underneath hospitals and of stockpiling weaponry near medical facilities.

New hostage video

Hamas on Monday released a short video showing three women who arebelieved to be captivesheld by the Palestinian militant group since itsOctober 7attack.

The women are seated in plastic chairs facing the camera, while one addresses Netanyahu directly with increasing fury, demanding Israeli leaders to “free us all.”

Relatives of thehostageshave named the women asYelena Trupanob, Daniel Aloni and Rimon Kirsht. CNN is unable to verify anything about their circumstances or well-being, and because the women arehostages, the statement could have been made under duress.

IDF spokesperson Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari said Hamas was engaging in “mind games” by releasing the footage of the women. Hagari added that 238 hostages are believed to be held captive by Hamas.

Talking involving the US, Israel, Qatar, Egypt and Hamas are underway to get a group of hostagesout of Gaza, a task that sources say has been further complicatedbyIsrael’s expansion of its ground operations.

One hostage – a female Israeli soldier – was rescued Monday during ground operations in Gaza, the IDF said.

IDF spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus told CNN Tuesday the soldier, named as Private Ori Megidish, was “actively rescued” in a special operation “targeted in specifically getting her out.”

“Based on intelligence” the Israeli special forces went into northern Gaza knowing her whereabouts and rescued her, Conricus said, adding that she is “well mentally and physically,” and reunited with her family.

Meanwhile, Shani Louk, a 23-year-old German-Israeli woman who was abducted from the Nova music festival and taken to Gaza has been declared dead, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said Monday.

A source involved with her identification told CNN Louk’s death was announced after forensic examiners found a bone fragment from her skull.

This story is developing and is being updated.