More foreigners prepared to leave the besieged Gaza Strip on Thursday as the Palestinian authorities said at least 195 Palestinians died in Israeli attacks on the Jabalia refugee camp, strikes that Israel claimed killed Hamas commanders.
The Gaza health ministry said at least 8,796 Palestinians in the narrow coastal enclave, including 3,648 children, have been killed by Israeli strikes since October 7.
At least 320 foreign citizens on an initial list of 500, as well as dozens of severely injured Gazans, crossed into Egypt on Wednesday under a deal between Israel, Egypt and Hamas.
Passport holders from Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, the United Kingdom and the United States were evacuated.
Gaza officials said the Rafah border crossing would reopen on Thursday so more foreigners could exit. A diplomatic source said some 7,500 foreign passport holders would leave Gaza over about two weeks.
Explosions were heard in the early hours of Thursday around the al-Quds hospital in densely populated Gaza City, the Palestinian Red Crescent said. Israeli authorities had previously warned the hospital to evacuate immediately, which UN officials said was impossible without endangering patients.
Gaza’s media office said on Thursday that at least 195 Palestinians were killed in the two Israeli attacks on Jabalia, with 120 missing. At least 777 people were wounded, it said in a statement.
Palestinians on Wednesday sifted through rubble in a desperate hunt for trapped victims. “It is a massacre,” said one witness.
UN human rights officials said strikes on the camp could be a war crime.
“Given the high number of civilian casualties and the scale of destruction following Israeli air strikes on Jabalia refugee camp, we have serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote on social media site X.
The Israeli military announced the death of another soldier in Gaza fighting, bringing to 17 the number killed since ground operations were expanded on Friday.
Amid growing international calls for a humanitarian pause in hostilities, conditions in the seaside enclave are increasingly desperate under Israel’s brutal and relentless assault and tightened blockade. Food, fuel, drinking water and medicine have run short.
Dr Fathi Abu al-Hassan, a US passport holder waiting to cross into Egypt on Wednesday, described hellish conditions in Gaza with no water, food or shelter.
“We open our eyes on dead people and we close our eyes on dead people,” he said.
Hospitals, including Gaza’s only cancer hospital, have struggled as shortages of fuel forced them to shut down. Israel has refused to let humanitarian convoys bring in fuel, claiming that Hamas fighters would divert it for military use.
Ashraf Al-Qudra, a spokesperson for the Gaza health ministry, said the main power generator at the Indonesian Hospital was no longer functioning due to lack of fuel.
The hospital was switching to a back-up generator but would no longer be able to power mortuary refrigerators and oxygen generators. “If we don’t get fuel in the next few days, we will inevitably reach a disaster,” he said.
More than 20,000 wounded people still in Gaza: MSF
More than 20,000 wounded people are still trapped in the Gaza Strip, according to Doctors Without Borders (MSF), despite initial evacuations of foreign passport holders and badly injured Palestinians across the border to Egypt.
MSF noted the evacuations of “a number of severely injured” people in a statement on Wednesday, saying that its 22 international staff members in Gaza had also been among those who left the territory via the Rafah border crossing.
“However, there are still over 20,000 injured people in Gaza with limited access to healthcare due to the siege,” it said.
MSF’s Palestinian staff were still offering care in the territory, it added, and another international team was waiting to enter the territory to replace those who left “as soon as the situation allows”.
The organisation went on to call for a greater number of people to be evacuated, as well as for a ceasefire and for more critical aid to be allowed in.
“Those who wish to leave Gaza must be allowed to do so without further delay. They must also be allowed the right to return,” the statement said.
AFP reporters at Gaza’s southern border on Wednesday saw ambulances whisking away wounded evacuees to Egyptian field hospitals, with Egyptian officials saying the Rafah crossing had admitted 335 foreigners or dual nationals and 76 seriously wounded and sick people.
The head of the UN agency that works to help Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, managed to reach the territory on Wednesday via the Rafah crossing, telling journalists there he had “never ever seen” anything like it.
“I was shocked by the fact that everyone there was asking for food, was asking for water,” said Lazzarini, the most senior UN official allowed into the besieged territory since the war began.
Blinken departs for Israel again
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was due to depart on Thursday for his second visit to Israel in less than a month. He plans to meet Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to voice solidarity but also to reassert the need to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties, his spokesperson said.
Blinken will also stop in Jordan, one of a handful of Arab states to have normalised relations with Israel. On Wednesday Jordan withdrew its ambassador from Tel Aviv until Israel ends its assault on Gaza. Israel said it regretted Jordan’s decision.
In Jordan, Blinken will underscore the importance of protecting civilian lives and reiterate a U.S. commitment to ensure Palestinians are not forcibly displaced from Gaza, a growing concern in Arab nations, the spokesman said.
Blinken will also pursue talks led by Egypt and Qatar on securing the release of all of the hostages held by Hamas.
Also on Thursday, the U.S. House of Representatives could pass with Republican support a bill providing $14.3 billion in aid for Israel.
But it is unlikely to become law, as it faces stiff opposition in the Democratic-controlled Senate and the White House has threatened a veto. President Joe Biden wants a $106-billion bill that would fund Ukraine, border security and humanitarian aid as well as money for Israel.
Hundreds still stranded, plants closed in India’s Chennai
Volunteers waded through stagnant water to hand out food and supplies, and some manufacturing plants remained shut in India’s southern tech-and-auto hub district of Chennai on Friday, four days after cyclone Michaung lashed the coast.
At least 14 people, most of them in Chennai and its state of Tamil Nadu, have died in the flooding, triggered by torrential rains that started on Monday.
The cyclone itself made landfall further north in Andhra Pradesh state on Tuesday afternoon.
Authorities said some low-lying areas of the state were still inundated and government officials and volunteers were taking supplies to people stuck in their homes in slums and other areas.
The larger Chennai area is home to the Indian units of several global firms including Hyundai Motor (005380.KS), Daimler and Taiwan’s Foxconn (2317.TW) and Pegatron (4938.TW) which do contract manufacturing for Apple (AAPL.O).
While many of them including Pegatron and Foxconn resumed operations within a day or two of the cyclone making landfall, some plants of the TVS group located in the worst-affected areas are yet to open, industry sources said.
Adani Krishnapatnam Port (APSE.NS) in Andhra Pradesh, said on Friday the cyclone had “very badly affected” its operations and it was declaring a force majeure period starting Dec. 3.
Force majeure is a notice used to describe events outside a company’s control, such as a natural disaster, which usually releases it from contractual obligation without penalty.
State-run Madras Fertilizers (MDFT.NS) notified stock exchanges that its Chennai plant has been shut and is tentatively expected to resume operations within two to four weeks.
Information technology (IT) services providers told staff to work from home for the week, while schools and colleges closed. A few schools and colleges were converted into temporary shelters.
This week’s floods in Chennai brought back memories of the extensive damage caused by floods eight years ago which killed around 290 people.
In Andhra Pradesh, the damage from the cyclone was relatively contained, with roads damaged and trees uprooted as big waves crashed into the coast.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh visited Chennai on Thursday and announced New Delhi will release a second instalment of 4.5 billion rupees ($54 million) to Tamil Nadu to help manage the damage. The federal government has also approved a 5.6 billion-rupee project for flood management in Chennai, he said.
Chennai residents questioned the ability of the city’s infrastructure to handle extreme weather.
“Not only has urbanisation itself caused a problem, but the nature of the urbanisation has preyed upon open spaces, holding areas like marshlands and flood plains,” social activist Nityanand Jayaraman said.
Experts have, however, said better stormwater drainage systems would not have been able to prevent the flooding caused by very heavy and extremely heavy rains.
“This solution would have helped a lot in moderate and heavy rainfall, but not in very heavy and extremely heavy rains,” Raj Bhagat P, a civil engineer and geo-analytics expert, said on Wednesday.
Gunman described as struggling academic with ‘target list’
The gunman who killed three professors and wounded one at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, was a financially struggling academic whose job applications were rejected by several higher-education institutions in Nevada, police said on Thursday.
Anthony James Polito, 67, also had mailed nearly two dozen suspicious letters to faculty at universities across the country and had prepared a “target list” of people at both UNLV and a North Carolina university where he once worked, police said.
Polito, facing eviction from his home in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson, had a criminal record of computer trespass dating to 1992 in Virginia, but police said there were no advance signs of violence.
The Taurus 9mm handgun he used in the shooting was legally purchased in 2022, according to Sheriff Kevin McMahill of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. He said Polito, who police shot dead after the attacks, was believed to have acted alone.
The precise motive for the rampage remained to be determined, though officials said it appeared students were not the primary target.
All four people shot on Wednesday inside Beam Hall, the campus building that houses UNLV’s business school, were faculty members.
Two of the dead were identified as professor Cha Jan “Jerry” Chang, 64, and assistant professor Patricia Navarro Velez, 39. The identity of the third slain professor was being withheld pending notification of family.
The surviving victim remained hospitalized, and his condition worsened on Thursday, McMahill said.
Letters and list
Detectives learned Polito had visited a post office shortly before the shooting and mailed 22 letters with no return address to university personnel across the United States, and had a list of people he was seeking on the UNLV campus as well as faculty from his former employer, East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.
His LinkedIn profile described Polito as a semi-retired associate professor of business who taught at East Carolina from 2001-2017.
Authorities intercepted the letters before any were delivered and found a suspicious white powdery substance in at least one of them, McMahill said at a news briefing on Thursday.
The letters’ contents remained under investigation, the sheriff told reporters, warning that anyone in higher education who received such an envelope should exercise caution and contact authorities.
He said officials were working to notify the intended recipients and had contacted nearly everyone on the separate target list to make sure all were safe.
“None of the individuals listed on the target list became a victim,” he told reporters.
He said detectives also had uncovered evidence that Polito was struggling financially, including an eviction notice taped to the entrance of his apartment. He said a document that appeared to be a will was found inside.
“We know he had applied numerous times for jobs with several Nevada higher-education institutions,” McMahill added, but he did not say whether UNLV was one of them.
Police searching Polito’s home also recovered ammunition similar to the 150 rounds he was carrying.
The UNLV campus will remain closed through Friday. The UNLV website said classes had been canceled through Dec. 10.
Israel says Reuters journalist Abdallah was killed in combat zone
The Israeli military, responding on Friday to a Reuters investigation that determined its forces killed a Reuters journalist in southern Lebanon on Oct. 13, said the incident took place in an active combat zone and was under review.
Without directly addressing the death of visuals journalist Issam Abdallah, a military statement said Lebanese Hezbollah fighters had at the time attacked across the border and Israeli forces opened fire to prevent a suspected armed infiltration.
A Reuters special report published on Thursday found that an Israeli tank crew killed Abdallah and wounded six reporters by firing two shells in quick succession from Israel while the journalists were filming cross-border shelling.
Israel’s statement on Friday said that on Oct. 13, Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants launched an attack on multiple targets within Israeli territory along the Lebanese border.
“One incident involved the firing of an anti-tank missile, which struck the border fence near the village Hanita. Following the launch of the anti-tank missile, concerns arose over the potential infiltration of terrorists into Israeli territory,” the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said in a statement.
“In response, the IDF used artillery and tank fire to prevent the infiltration. The IDF is aware of the claim that journalists who were in the area were killed.
“The area is an active combat zone, where active fire takes place and being in this area is dangerous. The incident is currently under review,” it said.
The strikes killed Abdullah, 37, and severely wounded Agence France-Presse (AFP) photographer Christina Assi, 28, just over a kilometre from the Israeli border near the Lebanese village of Alma al-Chaab.
Amnesty International said on Thursday that the Israeli strikes were likely to have been a direct attack on civilians and must be investigated as a war crime.
In a separate report Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the two Israeli strikes were “an apparently deliberate attack on civilians and thus a war crime” and said those responsible must be held to account. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Thursday it was important that Israel’s inquiry into the killing reach a conclusion and for the results to be seen.
“My understanding is that Israel has initiated such an investigation, and it will be important to see that investigation come to a conclusion, and to see the results of the investigation,” Blinken said at a press conference.
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