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Israel agrees to ‘breaks’ in fighting, food running out in Gaza, war devastates Palestinian economy

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Israel agrees to pauses in northern Gaza

The Israeli army has agreed to observe breaks of a few hours each day in the north of the Gaza Strip, to allow Palestinian civilians to flee.

Smoke rises following an Israeli airstrike in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.

“A ceasefire with Hamas means a surrender,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu repeated on Thursday evening on the Fox News channel.

He reaffirmed his objective of “eradicating Hamas” which rules Gaza. “Nothing will stop us.”

Israel, however, agreed to make daily humanitarian pauses from Thursday to allow civilians to flee the north – where fighting is raging – towards the south of the territory, according to the United States.

These “breaks” “of four hours in certain areas of the north of the Gaza Strip, will be announced three hours in advance”, said White House spokesperson John Kirby.

He said Washington has received assurances that “there would be no military operations in these areas for the duration of the pause”.

The Israeli army opened “an evacuation corridor” on Sunday, but Palestinians have testified to persistent fighting along this road used by 100,000 people since Wednesday, according to figures from the Israeli army.

Palestinian military runs during clashes with Israeli forces in Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.Palestinian military runs during clashes with Israeli forces in Jenin refugee camp
in the West Bank, Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023.
Majdi Mohammed/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Food running out in Gaza

Hundreds of thousands of refugees are crowded in south Gaza, facing increasingly disastrous conditions.

“We have no water, no toilets, no bakery,” said Oum Alaa al-Hajin, who found refuge in al-Nasser Hospital in the southern city of Khan Younes, after walking for days.

“We have a loaf of bread every three or four days, and we have to wait in line for several hours.”

According to OCHA, the number of displaced people in Gaza now stands at 1.6 million out of a population of 2.4 million.

In the north, where hundreds of thousands of people still remain, “the lack of food is increasingly worrying”, said the UN, which says it has been unable to provide assistance for eight days.

The hospitals that remain open do have enough medicine and fuel to run generators.

Ahmad Mhanna, a doctor at Al-Awda Hospital in Jabaliya, said the situation was “tragic”.

Maternity wards are operating without main lights and surgeons can only put patients under “local anaesthesia”, he said.

Devastating economic collapse in Gaza, says UN

A new UN report paints a stark picture of how the Palestinian economy has collapsed after a month of war and Israel’s near-total siege of Gaza.

The gross domestic product shrank 4% in the West Bank and Gaza in the war’s first month, pushing more than 400,000 people into poverty.

Such a severe economic impact was unseen in the conflicts Syria and Ukraine, or any previous Israel-Hamas war, the UN said.

The rapid assessment of the economic consequences of the war released Thursday by the UN Development Program and the UN Economic and Social Commission for West Asia was the first UN report showing the devastating impact of the conflict especially on the Palestinians.

If the war continues for a second month, the international organisation predicts that Palestine’s GDP, which was $20.4 billion (€19.1bn) before the war began, will drop by 8.4% — a loss of $1.7 bn (€1.6bn).

If the conflict lasts a third month, Palestinian GDP will drop by 12%, with losses of $2.5bn (€2.3bn) and more than 660,000 people pushed into poverty, it projects.

The report raises concerns about the long-term impact of the war, with Palestinians likely facing poverty and marginalisation for years to come.

Israeli armoured vehicles drive along the fence around the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Thursday Nov. 9, 2023.
Israeli armoured vehicles drive along the fence around the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Thursday Nov. 9, 2023.Leo Correa/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved

Netanyahu: Israel does not intend to occupy Gaza after war

Israel’s prime minister said the war in Gaza will continue until Hamas is defeated but asserted his country has no intention to govern the enclave after the fighting ends.

In an interview with Fox News that aired Thursday evening, Netanyahu made clear that though Israel had no intention of occupying Gaza, it did envision a radically reshaped territory free of Hamas.

“What we have to see is Gaza demilitarised, deradicalised and rebuilt,” he said.

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