Israel expels 80,000 Palestinians from Gaza in single day
American diplomats warn Biden admin of growing fury against US in Arab world: Israeli ballistic missile destroyer hits first 'target': Blinken welcomes humanitarian pauses in Gaza: Netanyahu rules out ceasefire, says no plans to occupy Gaza
By News Desk
November 10, 2023 09:32 AM
More than 80,000 people were expelled from northern Gaza through an evacuation corridor Thursday, Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) said in a statement.
The numbers announced by COGAT would mark a rise in evacuations compared to the previous day, when 50,000 people evacuated northern Gaza, according to Israel Defence Forces figures.
The IDF has opened evacuation corridors several times this week for periods of several hours — a pattern it seemed to formalize Thursday, when the White House announced Israel had agreed to continue with daily four-hour pauses of military operations in parts of northern Gaza.
‘Growing fury’ against US in Arab world
The Biden administration has received stark warnings from American diplomats in the Arab world that its strong support for Israel’s destructive and deadly military campaign in Gaza “is losing us Arab publics for a generation,” according to a diplomatic cable obtained by CNN.
The cable underscores profound concern among American officials about the growing anger against the United States that erupted soon after Israel launched its operations against Hamas.
“We are losing badly on the messaging battlespace,” reads a Wednesday cable from the US Embassy in Oman, citing conversations with “a wide range of trusted and sober-minded contacts.”
The robust US support for Israel’s actions is being seen, the cable warns, “as material and moral culpability in what they consider to be possible war crimes.”
The cable from the US Embassy in Oman was written by the second-highest US official in Muscat and sent to, among others, the White House’s National Security Council, the CIA and the FBI. While it’s just one cable from a regional embassy, it provides a private snapshot of the alarm over the growing anti-US wave sweeping the Middle East.
Israeli ballistic missile destroyer hits first 'target'
The Israeli military said its latest hypersonic ballistic missile interceptor had for the first time Thursday destroyed a "target" headed toward Israel from the Red Sea, highlighting potential attacks from Yemen.
The announcement of the landmark launch of the Arrow 3 interceptor came shortly after Yemen's Iran-backed Huthi rebels said they had fired "a barrage of ballistic missiles" at Israel.
Separately, a drone hit a school in the southern Israeli resort of Eilat, at the tip of the Red Seas, heightening fears in the community as Israel pursues its relentless campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli forces "successfully launched an Arrow 3 interceptor operationally for the first time this evening," the defence ministry and Israel Defence Forces said in a statement.
"The interceptor effectively intercepted a target launched towards Israel in the Red Sea region."
The statement said it was the "first operational interception" by an Arrow 3, which has been jointly developed with the United States, since its deployment in 2017.
"This achievement follows the recent success of the first operational interception carried out by the Arrow 2 system last week," the statement added.
- Hypersonic defence -
The multi-billion dollar Arrow family of missiles were developed because of the perceived threat of attack from Iran.
The hypersonic Arrow 3 moves faster and at a higher altitude than the older Arrow 2.
Israel announced on October 31 that its Arrow system had intercepted a "surface-to-surface missile" headed toward the country.
The Huthis said at the time that they had fired drones and ballistic missiles towards Israel and would "continue to carry out qualitative strikes with missiles and drones" to make Israel halt its campaign against Hamas.
In announcing the latest attacks, Huthi military spokesman Yahya Saree said in a statement: "Our armed forces ... launched a barrage of ballistic missiles at various sensitive targets of the Israeli entity... including military targets in the area of Umm al-Rashrash", -- the Arabic name of the town that stood where Eilat now is.
He said the operation was "successful" and claimed "direct hits".
The Huthis have claimed repeated missile and drone attacks at Israel since the Hamas attacks on Israel on October 7 set off the latest Gaza war.
The Yemeni rebels are considered one of a host of possible new war fronts that could erupt during the crisis.
In a separate incident, the Huthis said Wednesday that they shot down an American drone on "espionage activities".
US officials have confirmed that one of the country's drones was downed.
Several groups have expressed support for Hamas since their fighters crossed into southern Israel on October 7, killing some 1,400 people, mostly civilians, according to Israeli officials.
More than 10,800 people have been killed in retaliatory Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip, the health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory says.
One drone hit Eilat on Thursday but no announcement was made on where it came from.
No one was physically hurt in the explosion at an Eilat elementary school but paramedics treated seven people for shock, said an army spokeswoman at the scene.
The school complex was cordoned off by dozens of soldiers and police officers, an AFP reporter saw.
Israel pauses 'step in the right direction',
Israel has agreed to humanitarian "pauses" in its offensive on Hamas in Gaza after pressure from the United States, President Joe Biden said on Thursday.
Biden said they were a "step in the right direction" that would help civilians flee the fighting and get more aid into stricken areas.
The White House said there would be daily, four-hour pauses in northern Gaza, with warning given three hours beforehand.
Biden has been pushing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for longer breaks in the fighting after more than a month of war sparked by the October 7 attacks by Hamas.
"For weeks, I've been speaking with Israel’s leaders about the importance of humanitarian pauses," Biden said on X, formerly Twitter.
"As of today, there will be two humanitarian passages that will allow people to flee hostile areas in Gaza. And they’ve already enabled thousands to reach safety."
He added: "These pauses will help get civilians to safer areas away from active fighting. They are a step in the right direction."
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby had previously confirmed that there would be humanitarian pauses and corridors for civilians out of Gaza.
"Israel will begin to implement four-hour pauses in areas of northern Gaza each day, with an announcement to be made three hours beforehand," Kirby told reporters.
A senior US administration official said a deal for the measures was sealed during a visit to Israel by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday, followed by days of sorting out details.
But Israeli military spokesman Richard Hecht appeared to downplay the pauses.
"It's not a shift," he told reporters. "These are tactical local pauses for humanitarian aid, which are limited in time and area."
- 'No possibility' -
Fighting has raged since gunmen from the Islamist group Hamas poured over the Gaza border with Israel and, according to Israeli officials, killed 1,400 people and seized about 240 hostages in the worst attack in the country's history.
Vowing to destroy Hamas, Israel retaliated with an aerial bombing and ground offensive that the health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip says has killed more than 10,800 people, many of them children.
The UN estimates some 1.5 million people were already seeking safety in southern Gaza.
International calls for a ceasefire have mounted, as have protests, including one at the weekend which targeted the White House.
However, Biden ruled out a longer truce for now.
"None. No possibility," Biden told reporters at the White House when asked about the chances of a ceasefire.
He said he was "still optimistic" about freeing hostages -- including the around 10 US citizens held in Gaza. "We're not going to stop until we get them out."
He later confirmed that in a call with Netanyahu that "I've asked for a pause longer than three days." When asked if he was frustrated with Netanyahu, he said, "it’s taken a little longer than I hoped."
Biden has firmly stood by key ally Israel since the attacks, visiting Israel in October and saying that Hamas cannot be allowed to remain in control of Gaza.
But he has also called on Israel to obey the "laws of war," avoid civilian casualties, let in humanitarian aid and work on getting out the hostages.
Privately Washington has been putting pressure on Israel to rein in its offensive and to allow pauses in the fighting. This has met with Israeli resistance, particularly with Israel not wishing to give any appearance of weakness.
Biden has meanwhile warned Iran and its ally Hezbollah against widening the conflict, but repeated attacks on US forces by Tehran's proxies in recent weeks have raised tensions.
Asked why US warplanes had carried out fresh strikes on an Iran-linked weapons facility in eastern Syria on Wednesday, Biden said "because they struck us" and added that US forces would strike again "if we have to."
Gaza death toll
In Gaza, upwards of 10,800 people, also mostly civilians, have been killed in the war, the health ministry in the Hamas-run Palestinian territory said.
- Doha talks -
Israeli and US spy chiefs were in Qatar for talks on "a potential humanitarian pause" to the war raging in Gaza, an official with knowledge of the visit said.
CIA director Bill Burns and David Barnea, head of Israel's Mossad spy agency, "are both visiting Doha for trilateral talks with the Qataris to work through the details of a potential humanitarian pause that would see the release of hostages and more aid entering Gaza", the official told AFP, requesting anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.
Islamic Jihad, a separate group operating in Gaza, released a video it claimed showed hostages held in the territory.
It said it was ready to release the two, a woman in her 70s and a 13-year-old boy, "when security conditions are met on the ground".
- Rafah crossing reopens -
The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt reopened to allow the limited evacuation of wounded Palestinians and foreign passport holders, as well as the entry of aid trucks, a Palestinian official said.
An AFP journalist on the Egyptian side confirmed the crossings had resumed, with men, women and children leaving Gaza on foot, while the wounded were taken to ambulances.
- Palestinian poverty -
The war will force hundreds of thousands of Palestinians into poverty, a UN report on the conflict's possible long-term impacts on Gaza and the West Bank warned Thursday.
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) expects an additional 285,000 people to have been tipped into poverty so far, with the figure only set to worsen as the war continues.
Separately, the Israeli army denied that there was a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.
Colonel Moshe Tetro, head of coordination and liaison at COGAT, the Israeli defence ministry body handling civil affairs in Gaza, said the military was facilitating aid and said the situation in the strip was "not an easy one", but insisted "there is no humanitarian crisis."
- West Bank violence -
Israeli forces killed 18 Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, including 14 during a raid on the northern city of Jenin, the Palestinian health ministry said.
AFP journalists reported intense fighting in Jenin, with black smoke rising, and hearing multiple explosions and gunfire.
The Israeli army confirmed its forces were operating there.
At least 170 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed in violence across the West Bank since October 7, according to officials on both sides.
Netanyahu says no plans to occupy Gaza
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out a ceasefire in Gaza on Thursday, saying the military was performing "exceptionally well," but insisted Israel does not plan to reoccupy the Palestinian territory.
"A ceasefire with Hamas means surrender," he told Fox News, adding there was no "timetable" for the military offensive.
"I think the Israeli army is performing exceptionally well," he added.
"However long it takes, we'll do it."
Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas after the militant group poured across the border from Gaza on October 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians and taking around 240 people hostage, according to Israel.
The retaliatory aerial bombing and ground offensive has killed more than 10,800 people in Gaza, mostly civilians and many of them children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.
Netanyahu said Israel has no plans to remain in Gaza longterm.
"We don't seek to govern Gaza. We don't seek to occupy it, but we seek to give it and us a better future," he said, adding that Israel does not "seek to displace anyone."
Pushed on his plan for Gaza's future, he said the impoverished and blockaded territory must be "demilitarised, deradicalised and rebuilt."
"We'll have to find a government, a civilian government that will be there," he added, without detailing who might form such a government.
And he said Israeli forces would have to remain ready to reenter Gaza and "kill the killers".
"That's what will prevent the reemergence of a Hamas-like entity."
The October 7 attack and subsequent conflict came as Israel moved closer to a peace deal with Saudi Arabia, building on the so-called Abraham accords that normalised ties with several Arab countries.
Netanyahu insisted the conflict would not torpedo diplomatic momentum and that conditions would be "ripe" for negotiations to resume after Israel destroys Hamas.
"I think conditions will be ripe. In fact, after a victory, I think they'll be even riper."