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Israel Targets Hamas Tunnels In Gaza As Ground Operations Expand

TEL AVIV, Oct 31: Israeli forces killed several Hamas operatives and targeted their underground tunnels during their ground operations in Gaza yesterday, the military said in their latest update on their war against the Palestinian group.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government has expanded ground operations in Gaza and ruled out any ceasefire in the war that started on October 7 following a terror attack by Hamas that killed 1,400 in Israel.

"Over the last day, during ground operations: Numerous Hamas terrorists have been eliminated, the IAF struck terrorist targets and infrastructure, IDF combat forces struck approximately 300 targets, including anti-tank missiles posts, rocket launch posts, terrorist compounds inside underground tunnels," posted the Israel Defense Forces on X, formerly Twitter.

Meanwhile, Israeli tanks were seen advancing into the fringes of Gaza City yesterday, reports suggest. Tanks entered the Zaytun district on the southern fringes of Gaza City.

Netanyahu yesterday said ceasefire won't happen since that would amount to surrendering to Hamas. The US, an ally, too had objected to a ceasefire.

"Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism... this will not happen," Netanyahu told a foreign briefing and vowed Israel would "fight until this battle is won".

On October 7, Hamas launched rockets on Israel and their operatives went on a rampage in Israeli border towns, killing and kidnapping civilians.

Israeli ground forces are now fighting Hamas in the Gaza strip as aerial attacks continue to destroy buildings and turn them to rubble. At least 230 hostages are still being held captive in the Gaza Strip - an important political currency for the Hamas since many of them are foreigners.

Hamas had earlier freed four captives, including two US citizens, and said a ceasefire was necessary for releasing hostages. They had called for a prisoner swap deal that includes the release of all Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails in exchange for all hostages held in Gaza.

Gaza Ceasefire 'Will Not Happen': Netanyahu

TEL AVIV, Oct 30: Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday that a ceasefire in the Gaza war "will not happen" as it would be "to surrender" to Hamas.

Netanyahu also told a press conference that other countries must give more help in the struggle to free more than 230 hostages seized by Hamas in its October 7 attacks.

He said the international community must demand the captives "be freed immediately, unconditionally".

Israeli Tanks On Edge Of Gaza City, Key Road Cut: Report

GAZA, Oct 30: Israeli tanks advanced into the fringes of Gaza City on Monday, witnesses said, as it ramped up its war on Hamas saying it had killed dozens of operatives in hundreds of strikes.

"We have hit more than 600 targets in the past 24 hours," a military spokesperson said, up from 450 the previous day, with Hamas operatives also reporting "heavy fighting" in northern Gaza.

Tanks entered the Zaytun district on the southern fringes of Gaza City, cutting a key road from the north to the south of the war-torn Palestinian territory, witnesses said on Monday.

"They have cut the Salahedin Road and are firing at any vehicle that tries to go along it," said one resident who did not give his name.

Israel has on several occasions warned the 1.1 million people living in northern Gaza, including Gaza City, to head south to avoid its military strikes as it pushes ahead with a mission to "destroy" the territory's Hamas rulers.

Although huge numbers have left in recent weeks, tens of thousands more are believed to be still in the zone.

Since Friday, Israeli forces have stepped up their ground offensive as part of the military response to the October 7 Hamas attacks that officials say killed 1,400 people, mostly civilians, with another 239 people taken hostage.

The health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza says more than 8,000 people, mainly civilians, mostly civilians and more than half of them children, have since been killed in Israeli air and ground strikes.

The Israeli army said troops killed "dozens" of operativs in overnight clashes, saying they had "barricaded themselves inside buildings and tunnels and attempted to attack the troops".

In one incident, a fighter jet targeted a building "with over 20 Hamas terrorist operatives inside," while another fighter jet was guided to an anti-tank missile launching post in the area of Al-Azhar University, it said. The university is in the heart of Gaza City.

It also said it hit "weapons depots, dozens of anti-tank missile launching positions, as well as hideouts and staging grounds used by the Hamas terrorist organisation".

India Working To Secure Release Of Indians On Death Row In Qatar: Jaishankar

NEW DELHI, Oct 30: Foreign Minister S Jaishankar today met the families of eight former Indian Navy personnel who have been sentenced to death in Qatar.

Jaishankar said India will "continue to make all efforts to secure their release."

"Met this morning with the families of the 8 Indians detained in Qatar. Stressed that Government attaches the highest importance to the case. Fully share the concerns and pain of the families. Underlined that Government will continue to make all efforts to secure their release. Will coordinate closely with the families in that regard," he said on X - formerly known as Twitter.

The men, including decorated officers who once commanded major Indian warships, were working for Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a private firm that provided training and related services to Qatar's armed forces.

Sources said some of them were working on a highly sensitive project -- Italian technology-based midget submarines with stealth characteristics.

Reports claim the eight Navy veterans have been accused of spying.

The Ministry of External Affairs had earlier said it was shocked by the verdict and would take up the issue with Qatari authorities. "We are deeply shocked by the verdict of death penalty and are awaiting the detailed judgement. We are in touch with the family members and the legal team, and we are exploring all legal options," the ministry had said.

Those sentenced are Capt Navtej Singh Gill, Capt Birendra Kumar Verma, Capt Saurabh Vasisht, Cdr Amit Nagpal, Cdr Purnendu Tiwari, Cdr Sugunakar Pakala, Cdr Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh.

Meetu Bhargava, sister of one the former officers detained, had sought help from the government to bring her brother back in June this year.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on June 8, she had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene. "These Ex Navy officers are the pride of the nation & again I request our Hon'ble Prime Minister with folded hands that it is high time that they all are brought back to India immediately without any further delay," read her post, tagged to PM Modi and Union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh.

Netanyahu says war would be 'long and hard'

TEL AVIV, Oct 29: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday said that Israeli Defence forces have entered the second phase of the war against Palestinian militant group Hamas. He vowed to "destroy the enemy above ground and below ground."

Addressing a press conference, Netanyahu said that the war would be "long and hard" and reiterated Palestinian civilians to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip where Israel was focusing its attack.

The appeal comes at a time when Israel has knocked out the internet and communications in the besieged enclave on Friday, cutting off nearly 2.3 million people from contacting each other as well as the outside world.

The war between Israel and Palestine's Hamas militant group entered its 23rd day on Saturday. Over 9,000 people have died on both sides.

The Hamas-led Health Ministry said at least 8,000 Palestinians have been killed in the retaliatory airstrikes carried out by Israeli Defence Forces in Gaza since October 7.

More than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel after Hamas attacked Israeli towns from the Gaza border on October 7. In addition to that, at least 222 people including foreigners were believed captured by Hamas during the incursion and taken into Gaza. Four of them have been released since then.

With many buildings reduced to rubble, Gazans are short of essential supplies including food, water, fuel and medicines. Their plight got worse when phone and internet services were cut after heavy bombing by Tel Aviv.

Israel has sent troops and tanks into Gaza on Friday night. The Israeli military said that it was focusing on infrastructure including the extensive tunnel network built by Hamas. It provided no details on the size of the deployment.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Saturday sharply criticised the "unprecedented escalation" of bombardments on Gaza and called for an "immediate" ceasefire.

Israel has recalled some of its diplomatic envoys to Turkey citing "grave statements" made by Ankara.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday accused Hamas of playing "psychological games" over hostages after it offered to free all captives in exchange for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

"The stories published by Hamas are part of their psychological games ... Hamas is cynically using those who are dear to us -- they understand the pain and the pressure," Gallant told relatives of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, a statement released by his office said.

International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor Karim Khan who visited the Rafah border crossing on Sunday said that he “hopes” to visit the Gaza Strip and Israel while he is in the region. “There should not be any impediments to humanitarian relief supplies going to children, women and men, civilians, they are innocent,” he added.

Israel launches Gaza war's second phase with ground operation

TEL AVIV, Oct 29: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that Israeli forces had unleashed the second phase of the Gaza war as they pressed ground operations against Hamas militants, vowing to "destroy the enemy above ground and below ground."

Gaza's besieged people had barely any communications with the outside world as Israeli jets dropped more bombs on the Hamas-ruled Palestinian enclave and military chiefs said a long-threatened ground offensive was gearing up.

Speaking at a press conference in Tel Aviv, Netanyahu warned that the war would be "long and hard" and reiterated Israel's appeal to Palestinian civilians to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip where Israel was focusing its attack.

He vowed that every effort would be made to rescue the more than 200 hostages held by Hamas.

"This is the second stage of the war whose goals are clear - to destroy Hamas' governing and military capabilities and to bring the hostages home," Netanyahu told reporters.

"We are only at the start," he said. "We will destroy the enemy above ground and below ground."

Israel has blockaded and bombarded Gaza for three weeks after the Islamist group Hamas' Oct. 7 assault killed 1,400 Israelis in the deadliest day of the nation's 75-year history.

Western countries have generally backed what they say is Israel's right to self defence but there has been mounting international concern over the toll from the bombing and growing calls for a pause to allow aid to reach Gaza civilians.

Health authorities in the Gaza Strip of 2.3 million people say 7,650 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's campaign to obliterate the militants.

With many buildings reduced to rubble and shelter hard to find, Gazans are short of food, water, fuel and medicines. Their plight got worse from Friday night when phone and internet services were cut - followed by heavy bombing through the night.

"God help anyone under the rubble," said one Gaza journalist, who spent a terrifying night in a building stairway watching "belts of fire" as bombs fell and Israeli forces appeared to exchange fire with Palestinian fighters.

Without mobile phones, no one could call ambulances and emergency services anyway were short of fuel, he said. Desperate people were turning to the police, when they could be found, to use their walkie-talkies to seek help.

Though there was no indication of an invasion en masse, Israel said troops sent into Gaza on Friday night were still in the field, focusing on infrastructure including the extensive tunnel network built by Hamas.

"We attacked terror operatives of all ranks, everywhere," Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said earlier.

In calling on Gazans to move south, Israel said Hamas was hiding under civilian buildings, especially in the north. Palestinians say nowhere is safe, with bombs also smashing homes in the south of the densely populated territory.

"A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in front of our eyes," U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said.

Various global aid agencies said they could not contact their staff in Gaza. But a representative from the International Committees of the Red Cross and Red Crescent in Gaza got an audio message out.

William Schomburg said medics were working around the clock while also dealing with personal tragedies. "I spoke to one doctor who had lost his brother and cousin the night before," he told the BBC broadcaster in a clip the ICRC posted on X.

Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk offered his Starlink satellite network to support communications in Gaza for internationally recognised aid organisations.

Video from the Israeli side of the heavily fortified fence showed explosions in Gaza sending up clouds of smoke among a line of ruined buildings.

Al Jazeera, which broadcast live satellite TV footage overnight showing frequent blasts, said air strikes had hit areas around the enclave's main hospital Al Shifa.

Israel had accused Hamas of using the hospital as a shield for tunnels and operational centres, which the group denied.

Free All Palestinian Prisoners In Exchange For Hostages: Hamas To Israel

GAZA, Oct 29: Hamas today said it was ready to release Israeli hostages if Israel freed all Palestinians held in its prisons. Hamas' demand came amid Israel's massive ground offensive in Gaza City today, which Israel said has now "turned into a battlefield".

Putting forth a demand for the release of hostages, a Hamas spokesperson said Israel must free all Palestinian prisoners in exchange, a news agency reported on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, Hamas said they were trying to locate eight Russian-Israeli dual citizens who were taken hostages in order to free them on Moscow's request. Russia has good relations with Hamas, which it does not consider to be a terror group, and has begun a diplomatic effort to try to free hostages held in Gaza.

Israel today said it was recalling its diplomatic staff from Turkey after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at its military campaign in Gaza. "Given the grave statements coming from Turkey, I have ordered the return of diplomatic representatives there in order to conduct a reevaluation of the relations between Israel and Turkey," Foreign Minister Eli Cohen said in a post on X, formerly Twitter.

The Israeli military believes the Hamas leadership and its main infrastructure are concentrated in the north, which is where the country has now launched relentless strikes, days after it asked civilians to leave north Gaza and move to the South.

Gaza witnessed intense raids last night with the Israeli army claiming a top Hamas commander and several operatives being killed in air attacks.
Israel said that they had hit 150 "underground targets" of the Hamas. Israel Defence spokesperson Daniel Hagari said that the troops were "still in the field" and claimed that they were fighting a weaker enemy.

He also said that aid trucks, carrying food and water, will be allowed into Gaza today. Not only has the region been hit by the Israeli strikes, they are also facing severe shortages of food, fuel, and medicines.
Internet and phone services were also cut off amid the overnight strikes on Friday. Human Rights Watch, an NGO, has expressed concern that a communication blackout risks providing cover for mass atrocities.

A thick haze of smoke covered Gaza and southern Israel after the night of heavy bombardment, according to journalists covering the war.

A BBC journalist described "total chaos" during the night of strikes and in its aftermath. "There was a huge bombardment in the north of Gaza Strip on a scale we've never seen before. At the hospital here, ambulance drivers told me they couldn't communicate with anyone, so they were just driving in the direction of the explosions," wrote Rushdi Abualouf.

Hamas has said that its operatives are ready to confront Israeli attacks with "full force" in Gaza. The Palestinian militant group that rules Gaza had said its operatives were clashing with Israeli troops in areas near the border with Israel.

Israel has accused the Hamas group of using Gaza's biggest hospital as its headquarters and abusing other hospitals for military purposes, a charge that the group has denied.

Israel's 'Most Intense' Strikes On Gaza, Hamas Says Fired Rockets

TEL AVIV, Oct 27: Israel launched massive strikes across northern Gaza tonight, which reports said were the most intense since the start of the war on October 7. Hamas said internet has been snapped in the Gaza Strip. Reports said contact with Gaza is lost.

The Israeli military said it had increased its strikes on Gaza "in a very significant way", as a news agency live footage captured intense bombardment of the territory's north. "We will continue to strike in Gaza City and around," military spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a televised address.

The Hamas government said Israel "cut communications and most of the internet" across the Gaza Strip today. The government's media office accused Israel of taking the measure "to perpetrate massacres with bloody retaliatory strikes from the air, land and sea," as heavy strikes hit northern Gaza.

Rocket warning sirens blared in several cities in Israel while the airstrikes in northern Gaza were going on. Central Tel Aviv was targetted in the rocket attacks today.

Hamas said today it had fired "salvos" of rockets at Israel after intense Israeli bombing of the Palestinian territory. "Salvos of rockets in the direction of the occupied territories (Israel) in answer to the massacre of civilians," Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, said on its Telegram channel.

The UN chief warned today that Gaza faces "an unprecedented avalanche of human suffering" due to lack of food, water and power. "I repeat my call for a humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and the delivery of life-saving supplies," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a statement.

The Israeli army accused Hamas of abusing hospitals in the Gaza Strip for military purposes. The allegation was swiftly denied by Hamas, and the main United Nations agency working in Gaza said earlier it had mechanisms in place to prevent aid being diverted.

"Hamas wages war from hospitals" in Gaza, military spokesman Daniel Hagari told journalists, adding that Hamas was also using fuel stored in hospitals to help carry out its operations.

Hagari specifically identified Al-Shifa hospital, the largest in Gaza, as one from which Hamas men were operating. "Terrorists move freely" in Shifa and other hospitals, he said.

"Hamas-ISIS is sick. They turn hospitals into headquarters for their terror. We just released intelligence proving it," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a post on X, formerly Twitter, showing a video claiming how Hamas has been using Gaza's largest hospital for military purpose.

A senior member of the Hamas political bureau, Izzat al-Rishq, swiftly fired back at the allegations from the Israeli army, calling them unfounded. "There's no basis in truth in what the spokesman of the enemy army stated," Rishq said, accusing Israel of making up the allegations to "pave the way for a new massacre to be committed against our people".

8 Navy Veterans Get Death In Qatar, 'Shocked' India To Contest Order

NEW DELHI, Oct 26: Eight former Indian Navy personnel have been handed death penalty in Qatar. Calling the judgement "shocking", the foreign ministry said it would not comment given the "confidential nature of proceedings" but assured that it would contest the judgment.

The men, including decorated officers who once commanded major Indian warships, were working for Dahra Global Technologies and Consultancy Services, a private firm that provided training and related services to Qatar's armed forces. Sources said some of them were working on a highly sensitive project -- Italian technology-based midget submarines with stealth characteristics. Reports claim they have been accused of spying.

The men have been in jail since August 2022. Granted consular access to them, New Delhi has been working to secure their release. The men went to trial in March.

Their bail pleas were rejected numerous times and their detention extended by Qatari authorities. Today, the Court of First Instance of Qatar passed a judgment.

Those sentenced are Capt Navtej Singh Gill, Capt Birendra Kumar Verma, Capt Saurabh Vasisht, Cdr Amit Nagpal, Cdr Purnendu Tiwari, Cdr Sugunakar Pakala, Cdr Sanjeev Gupta and Sailor Ragesh.

"We are deeply shocked by the verdict of death penalty and are awaiting the detailed judgement. We are in touch with the family members and the legal team, and we are exploring all legal options," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"We attach high importance to this case, and have been following it closely. We will continue to extend all consular and legal assistance. We will also take up the verdict with Qatari authorities," the ministry statement read.

Meetu Bhargava, sister of one the former officers detained, had sought help from the government to bring her brother back.

In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on June 8, she had appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intervene.

"These Ex Navy officers are the pride of the nation & again I request our Hon'ble Prime Minister with folded hands that it is high time that they all are brought back to India immediately without any further delay," read her post, tagged to PM Modi and Union ministers Amit Shah and Rajnath Singh.

Hamas Says 'Almost 50' Israeli Hostages Killed Since Israel Strikes Began

GAZA, Oct 26: Hamas said Thursday Israeli strikes on Gaza have killed almost 50 of the hostages its operatives seized in bloody cross-border attacks as the United Nations warned "nowhere is safe" in the territory.

The group's armed wing made the claim, after Israel sent tanks, troops and armoured bulldozers into the enclave in a "targeted raid" overnight that the military said destroyed multiple sites before withdrawing.

"(Ezzedine) Al-Qassam Brigades estimates that the number of Zionist prisoners who were killed in the Gaza Strip as a result of Zionist strikes and massacres has reached almost 50," the group said in a statement on its Telegram channel.

Hamas's shock October 7 attacks, the worst in Israeli history, saw throngs of Hamas gunmen pour from Gaza into Israel, killing more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapping 224 more, according to official tallies.

Israel has retaliated with relentless strikes that Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said have killed more than 7,000 people, also mainly civilians -- a count expected to rise substantially if Israeli troops massed near the border thrust across.

On the 20th day of Israel's bloodiest Gaza war yet, the UN humanitarian coordinator for the Palestinian territories, Lynne Hastings, said that despite the Israeli military issuing warnings to people in Gaza City to leave, "advance warnings make no difference".

She said in a statement that when evacuation routes are bombed, "people are left with nothing but impossible choices. Nowhere is safe in Gaza."

The army said overnight its forces hit "numerous terrorist cells, infrastructure and anti-tank missile launch posts".

Black smoke billowed into the sky after a blast in the grainy night-vision footage the Israeli military released hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared preparations for a ground war were under way.

The operation in northern Gaza came in "preparation for the next stages of combat", the military said.

Israel Agrees To US Request To Delay Invasion Of Gaza: Report

TEL AVIV, Oct 25: Israel has agreed to delay an expected invasion of Gaza for now so that the United States can rush missile defences to the region to protect its troops there, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing U.S. and Israeli officials.

Israel is also taking into account in its planning the effort to supply humanitarian aid to civilians inside Gaza, as well as diplomatic efforts to free hostages held by Hamas militants, the report said.

Threats to U.S. troops were of paramount concern, it said.

The U.S. military and other officials believe their forces will be targeted by militant groups once the invasion of the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory starts.

The United States is hurrying to deploy nearly a dozen air-defence systems to the region, according to the Journal.

It was reported on Monday that Washington advised Israel to hold off on a ground assault in the Gaza Strip and is keeping Qatar - a broker with the Palestinian militants - apprised of those talks as its tries to free more hostages and prepare for a possible wider regional war.

India Resumes Some Visa Services In Canada Month After Suspending Them

OTTAWA, Oct 25: India will partially resume visa services in Canada -- closed last month amid a diplomatic row -- from October 26, the Indian High Commission in Ottawa said on Wednesday. Services will resume for entry visa, business visa, medical visa, and conference visa, the High Commission said.

"Further decisions, as appropriate, would be intimated based on continuing evaluation of the situation," read the media statement from the High Commission.

The visa services were suspended towards September-end as ties between the two nations faced severe strain following Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's allegations of "potential" involvement of Indian agents in the killing of a Canadian citizen, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, who was the chief of the banned Khalistan Tiger Force and one of India's most-wanted terrorists.

On Sunday, foreign minister S Jaishankar said visa services to Canada could resume if India sees progress in the safety of Indian diplomats in Canada. It had attributed the suspension to "safety and security considerations" -- a point the media statement underscored.

"If we see progress in safety of our diplomats in Canada, we would like to resume issuance of visas there," Jaishankar said on Sunday.

The diplomatic row, that escalated to involve tit-for-tat withdrawal of High Commission officials, snowballed after Trudeau's comment on the sidelines of the G20 conference in Delhi. Canada will always "defend freedom of expression... conscience and peaceful protest," Trudeau had said.

Refuting the allegations about the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar s "politically motivated", India said Canada should share evidence to support their claims -- a request Ottawa has so far declined.

Israel Offers Rewards To Gaza Residents For Info On Hostages

TEL AVIV, Oct 24: The Israeli military has requested Gaza Strip residents to share actionable information about the locations where Hamas has kept Israeli hostages.

In a post on X, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) offered money for giving accurate information that could lead to rescue of the hostages.

The IDF also promised protection and confidentiality of those who give information about where the hostages are being held.

Some 220 hostages are still in Hamas' captivity.

"If your will is to live in peace and to have a better future for your children, do the humanitarian deed immediately and share verified and valuable information about hostages being held in your area," the IDF said.

"The Israeli military assures you that it will invest maximum effort in providing security for you and your home, and you will receive a financial reward. We guarantee you complete confidentiality," it said.

"The contact details are: Secure phone call: 8619 WhatsApp, Telegram, Signal: +972503957992," the IDF said in the post on X, which also has the same message in Arabic.

Israel continues to strike at Hamas targets in Gaza, one of the most densely populated places in the world. It has accused Hamas of keeping civilians near rocket-launching sites to use them as human shields.

Two elderly Hamas hostages were airlifted to an Israeli hospital to be reunited with family today, as the US demanded Hamas release more than 200 other captives before Gaza ceasefire talks are considered.

Hamas stormed into Israel from the Gaza Strip on October 7, and killed at least 1,400 people, mostly civilians who were shot or burnt to death on the first day of the raid, according to Israeli officials.

Hamas also took 222 people hostage, among them elderly people and young children, according to the Israeli authorities' latest count. The hostages include dozens of dual nationals and foreigners.

More than 5,000 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed across the Gaza Strip in retaliatory Israeli bombardments, according to the latest number of dead from the Hamas health ministry in Gaza.

Nurit Cooper, 79, and Yocheved Lifshitz, 85, and their octogenarian husbands were among the hostages seized on October 7. Hamas released Ms Cooper and Ms Lifshitz on Monday citing "compelling humanitarian" reasons, after mediation by Qatar and Egypt.

Their release comes days after a US mother and daughter were freed.

Can 'Talk' About Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Only After Hostages Freed: Biden

WASHINGTON, Oct 24: US President Joe Biden said on Monday that any discussions about a Gaza ceasefire could only take place if Hamas frees all hostages seized from Israel in its October 7 attack.

"We should have those hostages released and then we can talk," Biden said at a White House event when asked if he would support a "hostages-for-ceasefire" deal.

Biden then apologized for having to leave the event to promote his economic program ahead of next year's election, saying he had to go to the White House Situation Room for "another issue I have to deal with."

Macron On Visit To Israel, West Bank As Gaza War Rages

TEL AVIV, Oct 24: French President Emmanuel Macron was Today set to become the first Western leader to visit both Israel's premier and the Palestinian president, more than two weeks into the brutal Gaza conflict that has claimed thousands of lives.

As Israel battles Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas after suffering the worst attack in its 75-year history, Macron visited to express solidarity but also to stress the need to protect Gaza's civilian population in the withering bombing campaign since.

Macron said on a solidarity visit to Israel on Tuesday that releasing hostages held by Hamas must be the "first objective" of the war in Gaza.

"The first objective we should have today is the release of all hostages, without any distinction, because this is an awful crime to play with the lives of children, adults, old people, civilians and soldiers," Macron said after meeting Israel's President Isaac Herzog. Macron added that the campaign must be fought without "enlarging this conflict."

Israel Ground Forces Conduct Limited Raids In Gaza Overnight

TEL AVIV, Oct 23: Israel bombarded Gaza with air strikes early on Monday and its aircraft struck southern Lebanon overnight, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting of his top generals and his war cabinet to assess the escalating war.

The Israeli Air Force also attacked military targets of the terrorist organisation Hezbollah. Netanyahu on Sunday had given a stern warning to Hezbollah, saying that joining the war would be “its biggest mistake ever” and that they will be crippled with unimaginable force.

IDF warplanes on Sunday killed the deputy head of Hamas’s regional artillery array, Muhammad Katamash.

Israel military said they had conducted "limited" grounds raids into the Gaza Strip overnight to fight Hamas fighters, according to news reports. The army said the strikes were aimed at destroying sites where Hamas was assembling to attack Israel.

In a televised briefing, Israel military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said that the country's ground forces carried out some raids inside Gaza. He said that the raids had been conducted by the "armoured and infantry" battalions.

Elaborating on the incursions that went "deep" into Gaza, Hagari said, "During the night there were raids by tank and infantry forces. These raids are raids that kill squads of terrorists who are preparing for the our next stage in the war."

He also said the Israeli forces were trying to find information on missing hostages. Over 200 people were taken hostage by Hamas operatives when they infiltrated and attacked cities in southern Israel on October 7.

In retaliation, Israel has pummelled the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory with air strikes for over two weeks and is also mobilising troops along the Gaza border for a ground offensive.

The Israeli military said it had hit "over 320 military targets in the Gaza Strip" over the past 24 hours.

"The terror targets struck included tunnels containing Hamas terrorists, dozens of operational command centres... and Islamic Jihad terrorists, military compounds, and observation posts," the army said in a statement.

Hamas released a statement too on the attacks and claimed that they destroyed the equipment of the Israeli raid party and forced them to retreat.

“Fighters engaged with the infiltrating force, destroying two bulldozers and a tank and forced the force to withdraw, before they returned safely to base,” the Hamas statement said.

Israel has warned more than one million residents in northern Gaza to move south for their safety, and the United Nations says more than half of the territory's 2.4-million population is now displaced.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to remain in and around Gaza City in the north, unwilling or unable to leave.

The IDF said it had "thwarted" an attack from Gaza by two drones that was claimed by Hamas.

"Two UAVs were identified crossing from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory" at Nir Oz and Ein HaBesor near the border, the army said. "Both UAVs were thwarted," a statement added, without stating whether they were shot down.

Israeli military spokesman Daniel Hagari has said that the Israeli Defence Force struck "eight terrorist cells" in Lebanon in the past 24 hours.

Seven of those were struck before they managed to fire anti-tank missiles and rockets, he said.

Hagari also said 20 Hezbollah cells had been struck since fighting broke out on the border earlier this month.

Modi speaks with Jordan's King

NEW DELHI, Oct 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi has communicated that he had a conversation with King Abdullah of Jordan to discuss the evolving situation in the West Asia region.

He conveyed that both India and Jordan have common concerns about terrorism, violence, and the loss of civilian lives.

He emphasized the necessity for collaborative actions to promptly address the security and humanitarian challenges.

Egypt-Gaza border crossing opens, letting desperately needed aid flow to Palestinians

GAZA, Oct 21: Egypt’s state-owned Al-Qahera news, which is close to security agencies, said just 20 trucks had crossed into Gaza on October 21. Hundreds of foreign passport holders also waited to cross from Gaza to Egypt to escape the conflict.

The opening came after more than a week of high-level diplomacy by various mediators, including visits to the region by U.S. President Joe Biden and U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Israel had insisted that nothing would enter Gaza until some 200 people captured by Hamas were freed and the Palestinian side of the crossing had been shut down by Israeli airstrikes.

The Hamas-run government in Gaza said the limited convoy "will not be able to change the humanitarian catastrophe that Gaza is currently enduring,” calling for a secure corridor operating around the clock.

The opening came hours after Hamas released an American woman and her teenage daughter, the first captives to be freed after the militant group's October 7 incursion into Israel. It was not immediately clear if there was any connection between the two.

Hamas released Judith Raanan and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie, on Friday for what it said were humanitarian reasons in an agreement with Qatar, a Persian Gulf nation that has often served as a Mideast mediator.

“The two had been on a trip from their home in suburban Chicago to Israel to celebrate Jewish holidays,” the family said. They were in the kibbutz of Nahal Oz, near Gaza, when Hamas and other militants stormed into southern Israeli towns, killing hundreds and abducting 203 others.

Biden spoke with the two freed hostages and their relatives. The International Committee of the Red Cross, which transported the freed Americans to Israel, said their release was “a sliver of hope.”

Hamas said in a statement that it was working with mediators “to close the case" of hostages if security circumstances permit. The group said it is committed to mediation efforts by Egypt, Qatar and others.

There are growing expectations of a ground offensive that Israel says would be aimed at rooting out Hamas, an Islamic militant group that has ruled Gaza for 16 years. Israel said on Friday it does not plan to take long-term control over the small but densely-populated Palestinian territory.

Israel has also traded fire along its northern border with Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, raising concerns about a second front opening up. The Israeli military said on Saturday it struck Hezbollah targets in Lebanon in response to recent rocket launches and attacks with anti-tank missiles.

Israel issued a travel warning on Saturday, ordering its citizens to leave Egypt and Jordan — which made peace with it decades ago — and to avoid travel to a number of Arab and Muslim countries, including the United Arab Emirates, Morocco and Bahrain, which forged diplomatic ties with Israel in 2020. Protests against Israel's actions in Gaza have erupted across the region.

World leaders attend Cairo peace summit to ‘de-escalate’ Israel-Hamas war

CAIRO, Oct 21; Leaders and top officials from more than a dozen countries have gathered in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, for a conference to discuss ways to “de-escalate” the Israel-Hamas war amid growing fears of a wider Middle East conflict.

Dubbed the Cairo Summit for Peace, representatives from countries including Jordan, France, Germany, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, the United States, Qatar and South Africa are attending the one-day meeting on Saturday, together with United Nations and European Union officials.

In his opening remarks, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi invited leaders to come to an agreement for a road map to end the “humanitarian catastrophe” in the Gaza Strip and revive a path to peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The plan’s goals included the delivery of aid to Gaza and agreeing to a ceasefire, followed by negotiations leading to a two-state solution, he said.

“All civilian lives matter,” Jordan’s King Abdullah said, addressing the summit. “The relentless bombing campaign under way in Gaza as we speak is cruel and unconscionable on every level. It is collective punishment of a besieged and helpless people. It is a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law. It is a war crime.”

“Anywhere else, attacking civilian infrastructure and deliberately starving an entire population of food, water, electricity and basic necessities would be condemned. Accountability would be enforced … but not in Gaza,” he added.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas attended the summit and asked for humanitarian corridors to be opened. He also said Palestinians would not leave. “We will remain on our land.”

The absence of any representative from the Israeli side, and any senior US official, has dampened expectations for what the summit can achieve.

Al Jazeera’s diplomatic editor James Bays said that while it is good for these countries to propose a road map out of this crisis, “Is Israel going to listen to that road map?”

“Israel is not represented. It’s Israeli generals and the Israeli prime minister and the Israeli war cabinet who have the decisions on what to do militarily, and you see – as the speeches have been going on – fresh bombardment of Gaza [is taking place],” Bays noted.

The summit takes place as Israel readies a ground assault on Gaza, after weeks of aerial attacks following the October 7 attack by Hamas that killed 1,400 people in Israel. More than 4,200 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s counteroffensive, amid a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

US, UK Ask India To Cooperate in Canada Murder Probe

WASHINGTON, Oct 21: The United States and Britain on Friday urged India not to insist Canada reduce its diplomatic presence in India and expressed concern after Ottawa pulled out 41 diplomats amid a dispute over the murder of a Sikh separatist.

Canada has alleged Indian involvement in the June murder in a Vancouver suburb of Canadian citizen and Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar. India denies the allegation.

"We are concerned by the departure of Canadian diplomats from India, in response to the Indian government's demand of Canada to significantly reduce its diplomatic presence in India," US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller said.

"Resolving differences requires diplomats on the ground. We have urged the Indian government not to insist upon a reduction in Canada's diplomatic presence and to cooperate in the ongoing Canadian investigation. We expect India to uphold its obligations under the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, including with respect to privileges and immunities enjoyed by accredited members of Canada's diplomatic mission," the statement said.

Washington has said it took Canada's allegations seriously and, along with London, urged India to cooperate with Canada in the murder probe even as Western powers have been reluctant to openly condemn India.

Analysts say the US and the UK do not want to damage ties with India, which they view as a counterbalance to their main Asian rival China.

But Friday's statements from the US State Department and Britain's Foreign Office have been the most direct criticism by Washington and London of New Delhi thus far in this case.

"We do not agree with the decisions taken by the Indian government that have resulted in a number of Canadian diplomats departing India," a spokesperson for Britain's Foreign Office said.

Canada withdrew 41 diplomats from India after New Delhi last month asked Ottawa to reduce its diplomatic presence following Canada's allegations over Nijjar's killing. Canada on Friday said it was temporarily suspending in-person operations at consulates in several Indian cities and warned of visa processing delays.

Britain's Foreign Office also cited the Vienna Convention. It said "the unilateral removal of the privileges and immunities that provide for the safety and security of diplomats is not consistent with the principles or the effective functioning of the Vienna Convention."

Israel vows to end ‘responsibility for life’ in Gaza, shares 3-phase offensive

TEL AVIV, Oct 20: Israel has decided to completely end its responsibility over Gaza Strip while outlining three-phase offensive against the Islamist group Hamas which launched a deadly attack on October 7.

A rigid blockade has been enforced on the coastal enclave of the Palestinian National Authority since 2007 right after Hamas took control of the region.

Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant briefed Knesset, the country's legislature, about the campaign against Gaza in phases.

Israeli military officials said the war, which entered the 14th day, would be carried out for ‘long’ which will involved a ‘difficult’ and ‘intense’ fighting.

While giving out details of Gaza campaign, Gallant said the first phase of its offensive includes the ongoing military operation meant to destroy Hamas's infrastructure; second phase will include ‘operations at lower intensity’ eliminating ‘pockets of resistance’; whereas, the third wil involve “the removal of Israel’s responsibility for life in the Gaza strip, and the establishment of a new security reality for the citizens of Israel.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited a group of soldiers near Gaza border in order to boost their morale. “All of Israel is behind you and we are going to heavily strike our enemies so that we can achieve victory,” the Israel PM was quoted as saying by Times of Israel.

Mabduh Shaalabi, a senior Hamas security official, was killed in a joint operation by the Israel Defence Force and its naval forces.

The head of IDF Southern Command said this war ‘was forced on us’ and that the ground offensive would be ‘long and intense’. "But we stopped them and we are striking them heavily,” senior official Finkelman told the soldiers in Gaza border.

As the war entered the 14th day, the death toll in both Gaza and Israel topped over 5,500. Over 12,400 Palestinians are injured and more than 4,800 Israelis are injured.

Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman called for the establishment of Palestian State based on 1967 borders. “The conditions must be created for the return of stability and the achievement of lasting peace that will ensure a just solution to establish a Palestinian state within 1967 borders in order to achieve security and prosperity for all," the Crown Prince said.

In a travel advisory to its citizens, Russia urged to refrain from travelling to Israel and Lebanon.

US President Joe Biden urged Americans to get behind millions of dollars for spending on allies Israel and Ukraine.

In an address 20 hours after returning from Israel, Biden drew parallel between Israel-Hamas war and Russia-Ukraine conflict and said both Hamas and Russia wanted to ‘annihilate a neighbouring democracy’.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited Egypt's Rafah border crossing where he pointed out the importance of moving the aid trucks into the besieged Palestinian enclave amid the raging humanitarian crisis.

Palestinian president among international leaders to attend Cairo peace summit

CAIRO, Oct 20: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be among international leaders to participate in the Cairo summit for peace on Saturday, an official source told a news agency.

Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa and Kuwait’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah also confirmed their presence in Cairo.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna, European Council President Charles Michel and EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell have confirmed their presence in the meeting, which will discuss the Palestinian-Israeli issue, according to reports.

Colonna had already travelled to Cairo, Beirut and Israel last week as Paris looks to reduce the risk of an escalation across the region.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will also participate in the peace summit, said government sources.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed his attendance to discuss the conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip, his office said.

“President Ramaphosa has been deeply concerned by attacks on civilians, the resulting enormous loss of life, displacement of people and the humanitarian crisis that has engulfed the Gaza Strip,” South Africa’s presidency said in a statement on Friday.

“South Africa stands ready to join the global effort that will bring about lasting peace to the Middle East.”

The other attendees expected so far are Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, Cypriot President Nikos Christodoulides, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, Japanese Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa and British foreign minister James Cleverly.

The summit, which was called by Egypt’s President Abdelfattah El-Sisi, aims to de-escalate the violence in Gaza, help reach a ceasefire and arrive at a just solution for the Palestinian issue.

Israel has intensified its bombardment on Gaza over the two weeks, killing at least 3,800 people and wounding more than 13,000. Calls for peace have intensified as Gaza prepares to receive long-awaited aid after an agreement to open the Rafah border crossing.

India Slams Canada's Reasons For Diplomats' Withdrawal

NEW DELHI, Oct 20: The centre today said that no international norms were violated in India seeking parity in the mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa. The statement came just hours after Canada withdrew 41 diplomats accusing India of violating the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.

"We reject any attempt to portray the implementation of parity as a violation of international norms," the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

"The state of our bilateral relations, the much higher number of Canadian diplomats in India, and their continued interference in our internal affairs warrant a parity in mutual diplomatic presence in New Delhi and Ottawa," it added.

Earlier today, Canadian Foreign Minister Melanie Joly announced that 41 diplomats have been recalled from India.

"I can confirm that India has formally conveyed its plan to unethically remove diplomatic immunities for all but 21 Canadian diplomats and dependents in Delhi by tomorrow, October 20. This means 41 Canadian diplomats and their 42 dependents were in danger of having immunity stripped on an arbitrary date. And this would put their personal safety at risk," she said.

"Immunities allow diplomats to do their work without fear of reprisal or arrests from the country they're in. They are a fundamental principle of diplomacy and this is a two-way street. They only work if every country abides by the rules. A unilateral revocation of diplomatic privilege and immunities is contrary to international law. It is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and threatening to do so is unreasonable and escalatory," she added.

Canada also paused all in-person services at the consulates in Mumbai, Chandigarh, and Bengaluru and urged its citizens in these three cities to exercise caution. All Canadians in India have been asked to contact the High Commission in New Delhi in case they need assistance.

India last month asked Canada to reduce its diplomatic presence after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cited what he said was credible evidence of a potential link between Indian agents and the murder of Khalistani extremist Hardeep Singh Nijjar.

India denies any connection to the shooting outside a Sikh temple in June.

Italian PM Georgia Meloni announces separation from long-time journalist partner

MILAN, Oct 20: Italian Prime Minister Georgia Meloni on Friday announced separation from her longtime boyfriend television journalist Andrea Giambruno, who recently came under furore for making sexist comments on air.

"My relationship with Andrea Giambruno, which lasted almost 10 years, ends here. Our paths have diverged for some time, and the time has come to acknowledge it," Meloni wrote on X (formerly Twitter).

"I will defend what we were, I will defend our friendship, and I will defend, at all costs, a seven-year-old girl who loves her mother and loves her father, as I was unable to love mine. I have nothing else to say about this", she added.

Giambruno and Meloni were not married and have been in a relationship for almost 10 years. The couple have a seven-year-old daughter.

According to reports, Giambruno, who hosts the show "Diario del Giorno" on Mediaset, part of the MFE media group, recently came under flak when his off-air excerpts from the program showed him using foul language and appearing to make advances to a female colleague.

The TV journalist in August was widely criticised for his apparent victim-blaming comments following a gang rape case saying that women could avoid rape by not getting too drunk.

"If you go dancing, you have every right to get drunk - there shouldn't be any kind of misunderstanding and any kind of problem - but if you avoid getting drunk and losing your senses, you might also avoid running into certain problems and coming across a wolf," he said during his program.

However, Meloni had said after that episode that she should not be judged for comments made by her partner, and that in future she would not answer questions about his behaviour.

Meloni met Giambruno in 2015 when he was working as a writer for a TV show on which Meloni appeared.

Canada Withdraws 41 Diplomats From India Amid Huge Diplomatic Row

MONTREAL, Oct 20: Canada said Thursday it had withdrawn 41 diplomats from India -- fallout from a bitter row over the killing of a Khalistani terrorist on Canadian soil.

India planned to "unethically" revoke diplomatic immunity for all but 21 of Canada's diplomats and their families by Friday, forcing Ottawa to pull out the others, Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly said.

"We have facilitated their safe departure from India," Ms Joly added. "This means that our diplomats and their families have now left."

Relations between India and Canada have plunged since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau last month publicly linked Indian intelligence to the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar, which India has denied.

Nijjar, who advocated for a separate Sikh state carved out of India, was wanted by Indian authorities for alleged terrorism and conspiracy to commit murder.

"Revoking the diplomatic immunity of 41 diplomats is not only unprecedented, but also contrary to international law," Ms Joly said Wednesday, but said Canada did not plan to retaliate in kind, so as to not "aggravate the situation."

"Canada will continue to defend international law, which applies to all nations and will continue to engage with India," she said.

"Now more than ever we need diplomats on the ground and we need to talk to one another," Joly added.

Canada has called for India to cooperate in the investigation but New Delhi has rejected the allegations and taken countermeasures, such as shutting down visa services for Canadians.

Ottawa also expelled an Indian diplomat over the affair.

External Affairs Minister SJaishankar said last month in New York that his country would be willing to examine any evidence presented by Canada.

"We have actually been badgering the Canadians. We've given them loads of information about organized crime leadership which operates out of Canada," Jaishankar said, referring to Sikh separatists.

"We have a situation where actually our diplomats are threatened, our consulates have been attacked and often comments are made (that are) interference in our politics," he said.

The Indian government has called the Canadian accusations over the killing "absurd" and advised its nationals not to travel to certain Canadian regions "given the increase in anti-Indian activities."

India also temporarily stopped processing visa applications in Canada.

Nijjar, who immigrated to Canada in 1997 and became a Canadian citizen in 2015, was shot dead by two masked assailants in the parking lot of a Sikh temple near Vancouver in June.

Canada is home to some 770,000 Sikhs, who make up about two percent of the country's population, with a vocal group calling for creating a separate state of Khalistan.

The Sikh separatist movement is largely finished within India, where security forces used deadly force to put down an insurgency in the state of Punjab in the 1980s.

The tensions between Ottawa and New Delhi have created a delicate situation for close Canadian ally Washington, which has in recent months taken steps to move closer to India as the United States seeks to limit Chinese influence in the region.

UK absolutely supports Israel's right to defend: Rishi Sunak

TEL AVIV, Oct 19: A day after US President Joe Biden pledged solidarity with Israel, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Thursday said the United Kingdom absolutely defends Israel's right to defend themselves in line with international law and to go after Hamas to take back hostages, deter further incursions and to strengthen Israel's security for long term.

At the joint press conference, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Rishi Sunak for 'clear, unwavering support' since the day the war began. "I think the fact that you came to Israel does mean a lot. I said this to President Biden yesterday that there is one thing more heartwarming than standing by Israel and that is standing in Israel," Netanyahu said.

Calling Hamas the new Nazis, the new ISIS, Netanyahu said the fight is now not only Israel's but the world's fight against the 'Nazis'.

"Hamas are the new Nazis, they are the new ISIS and we have to fight them together, just as the world, the civilised world united to fight the Nazis. This is not merely our battle, but the battle of the entire civilised world," Netanyahu said.

Netanyahu held a private meeting with Sunak at his office in Jerusalem as Sunak reached Israel amid the ongoing conflict between the Israeli forces and Hamas that started on October 7.

"I am in Israel, a nation in grief. I grieve with you and stand with you against the evil that is terrorism. Today, and always," Sunak said.

Netanyahu told Sunak that the aim of the October 7 attack by Hamas was to destroy Israel's regional peace moves. Rishi Sunak welcomed Israel's decision to allow aid in Gaza.

Modi speaks to Palestine prez: 'Reiterated India's long-standing position'

NEW DELHI, Oct 19: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday spoke to Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict and conveyed condolences at the loss of civilian lives at the al-Ahli hospital in Gaza.

Assuring that India will send humanitarian assistance to the people of Palestine, Modi said he reiterated India's long-standing principles position on the Israel-Palestine issue.

"Spoke to the President of the Palestinian Authority H.E. Mahmoud Abbas. Conveyed my condolences at the loss of civilian lives at the Al Ahli Hospital in Gaza. We will continue to send humanitarian assistance for the Palestinian people. Shared our deep concern at the terrorism, violence and deteriorating security situation in the region. Reiterated India's long-standing principled position on the Israel-Palestine issue," Modi tweeted.

This is the first time Modi spoke to the Palestine authorities after the Israel-Hamas war broke out following Hamas's unexpected offensive into Israel on October 7.

'Don't Repeat Mistakes US Made In Rage After 9/11,' Biden Tells Israel

TEL AVIV, Oct 18: US President Joe Biden cautioned Israelis not to be blinded by rage after suffering their deadliest ever attack, warning that the United States made mistakes after September 11.

"I caution this while you feel that rage, don't be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice and got justice we also made mistakes," Joe Biden said on a visit to Tel Aviv.

Biden Says US 'Defense Data' Shows Israel Not Behind Gaza Hospital Strike

TEL AVIV, Oct 18: US President Joe Biden said Wednesday he had seen "data" from the US Defense Department backing his assertion that Palestinian terrorists, not Israel, were to blame for a devastating strike on a Gaza hospital.

Asked by reporters in Tel Aviv what made him sure that Israel was not responsible for the strike that killed hundreds on Tuesday, Biden replied, "the data I was shown by my defense department".

US intelligence based on aerial images and intercepted communications shows Israel was not to blame for a strike on a Gaza hospital that killed hundreds, the White House said Wednesday.

"While we continue to collect information, our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday," National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said on social media.

Israel Army Puts Out Before-After Footage Of Gaza Hospital Bombing

TEL AVIV, Oct 18: Hamas and Israel traded accusations after a blast ripped through a hospital in war-torn Gaza killing over 500 people. While Hamas claims that the blast was caused by an Israeli rocket, the Benjamin Netanyahu government maintained that they had no role in the attack.

The Israeli military blamed Palestinian militants, saying that the an outgoing Islamic Jihad rocket misfired.

To back their claims, Israel released a series of videos of the explosion, one of which showed the hospital and its surroundings before and after being hit by the rocket.

"A failed rocket launch by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization hit the Al Ahli hospital in Gaza City. IAF footage from the area around the hospital before and after the failed rocket launch by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization," IDF said while sharing the video on X (formerly Twitter).

The video shows that while the building caught fire after the rocket landed in the hospital parking lot. The Israel military claimed that their weapons, especially their rockets, were high-impact and create craters at the site they hit.

They said that there are no visible craters near the hospital and even the building doesn't seem to have encountered significant damage.

Asked to explain the size of the explosion at the site, chief Israeli military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said it was consistent with unspent rocket fuel catching fire. "Most of this damage would have been done due to the propellant, not just the warhead," he said.

Hagari also accused Hamas of inflating the number of casualties from the explosion and said it could not know as quickly as it claimed what had caused the blast.

Health authorities in Gaza said the explosion at the Ahli Arab Hospital killed nearly 500 people. On the ground, there were scenes of chaos as the dead and wounded were taken to nearby medical centres.

At the Al-Shifa hospital, scores of bodies cloaked in blood-stained sheets and white plastic wrap lined the floors. Stunned relatives tried to identify loved ones.

With tensions high after the explosion, Arab leaders cancelled a summit with US President Joe Biden, who landed in Israel today.

Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates were among countries to condemn the attack and blame Israel for it.

Before Tuesday's blast, health authorities in Gaza said at least 3,000 people had died in Israel's 11-day bombardment that began after a Hamas October 7 rampage on southern Israeli communities in which 1,400 people were killed and around 200 were taken into Gaza as hostages.

The fighting has raised fears of a widening war in the Middle East. The United States has sent aircraft carriers to support Israel, while allies of Hamas including Iran and Tehran's Lebanese proxy Hezbollah have vowed to respond to a planned Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.

Joe Biden To Visit Israel

TEL AVIV, Oct 17: The arrival of US President Joe Biden in Israel on Wednesday was confirmed late Monday.

"He's coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region and for the world," US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said about the visit in a meeting with the press in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv. Antony Blinken had just finished an unprecedented eight-hour meeting with the entire Israeli war cabinet at the military headquarters in Tel Aviv.

Although Biden's visit is described as a show of strong support to Israel, it also sends a warning to regional powers such as Iran and Hezbollah against escalating the situation.

"This is much broader than a war between Israel and Hamas. The US President sees the current situation as a war between good and bad. Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas stand on one side, while US, Europe and Israel stand on the other," Amos Yadlin, former head of Israel's military intelligence, tells Channel 12. He adds that if Iran and Hezbollah attack Israel, then Israeli and US soldiers will fight shoulder-to-shoulder.

The US Navy has dispatched two aircraft carriers to the eastern Mediterranean Sea as a deterrent to Israel's enemies.

The USS Dwight D Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group recently joined the USS Gerald R Ford group in the Mediterranean, bringing the total number of assigned American warships to 10.

On Monday, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari stated that 35 planes with ammunition are en route to Israel.

"We are always looking around us, in the entire Middle East. The IDF (Israeli Defence Force) will operate anywhere in the Middle East to fulfil Israel's security aims. We are highly prepared in all arenas," Daniel Hagari was quoted as saying by The Times of Israel.

In the past week Israeli fighter jets have carried out attacks on the airports of Damascus and Aleppo in Syria.

Just before entering the 11th day of fighting, Abu Obeida from the Hamas military wing stated that the group is holding 200 hostage in Gaza, and another 50 are being held by other Palestinian groups.

Khaled Meshaal, head of Hamas' diaspora office in Qatar, said Hamas demands the release of 6,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israel to reach a possible prisoner swap.

Hamas Says One Of 'Most Dominant' Commanders Killed In Israel Strike

GAZA, Oct 17: Palestinian terrorist group Hamas said Tuesday one of the top leaders of its armed wing was killed during an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip.
"Ayman Nofal, 'Abu Ahmad', a member of the general military council and commander of the central command in Al-Qassam Brigades, was killed" in an Israeli strike on the central Gaza Strip, Hamas said in a statement, referring to its military wing.

Confirming his killing, the Israeli military described Nofal as "one of the most dominant figures" in Hamas.

On October 7 the Gaza-based terrorists attacked Israel, killing more than 1,400 people and triggering Israeli retaliatory strikes on Gaza where around 3,000 people have been killed, according to officials on both sides.

An army statement described Nofal as the group's former head of military intelligence, who has been involved in manufacturing weapons and directing rockets fired at Israel.

Nofal was also "involved in planning the abduction of Gilad Shalit", a soldier released in 2011 after being held for more than five years, the army said.

Earlier Tuesday the military said it had killed another top Hamas terrorist-- Osama Mazini -- an announcement which the group is yet to comment on.

Israel had earlier announced the deaths of other Hamas commanders or officials since its bombing of Gaza targets began.

Hamas separately reported Israeli forces targeted a Gaza City home belonging to the family of Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar.

The property belongs to Haniyeh's brother, a Gaza security source told AFP.

With hostilities escalating, Israel has evacuated many of its border communities.

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It has been impossible for Gaza's 2.4 million residents to leave the Palestinian territory, as all exits remain closed.

At Least 15 Journalists Have Been Killed Since Israel-Hamas War Began: Report

NEW YORK, Oct 17: Ever since the beginning of the Israel-Hamas conflict, hundreds of journalists, reporters, photographers, and videographers have been at the frontlines to report on the war. However, doing their job has come with a heavy price.

At least 15 journalists have been killed since the conflict between Israel and Hamas began, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) reported in a statement Monday. CPJ is an independent organization based in New York dedicated to defending press freedom and the rights of journalists globally.

Of the 15 journalists killed, 11 were Palestinian, three were Israeli and one was Lebanese. In addition, 8 journalists have been reported injured and 3 reported missing or detained. The organization is also currently investigating more than 100 reports of additional journalists being "killed, missing, detained, or threatened".

Here is a list of the journalists killed amid the Israel-Hamas conflict

Ibrahim Mohammad Lafi
Mohammad Jarghoun
Mohammad Al-Salhi
Yaniv Zohar
Ayelet Arnin
Shai Regev
Assaad Shamlakh
Hisham Alnwajha
Mohammed Sobh
Saeed al-Taweel
Mohamed Fayez Abu Matar
Ahmed Shehab
Issam Abdallah
Husam Mubarak
Salam Mema

"Journalists are civilians doing important work during times of crisis and must not be targeted by warring parties. Journalists across the region are making great sacrifices to cover this heartbreaking conflict. All parties must take steps to ensure their safety,'' Sherif Mansour, CPJ's Middle East and North Africa program coordinator, said in a statement.

The CPJ statement added that journalists in Gaza face particularly high risks as they try to cover the conflict in the face of a ground assault by Israeli troops, airstrikes, disrupted communications, and extensive power outages.

Last Friday, a Reuters video journalist was killed and six other journalists injured in southern Lebanon when missiles fired from the direction of Israel struck them. The group of journalists, including from Al Jazeera and Agence France-Presse, were working near Alma al-Shaab, close to the Israel border, where the Israeli military and Lebanese militia Hezbollah have been trading fire in border clashes.

Israel's U.N. envoy, Gilad Erdan, said in a briefing on Friday, "Obviously, we would never want to hit or kill or shoot any journalist that is doing its job. But you know, we're in a state of war, things might happen." He added that the country would investigate.

In Sri Lanka, Jaishankar Warns About Dangers Of 'Hidden Agendas'; Target Was China

COLOMBO, Oct 17: India on Wednesday asked the countries in the Indian Ocean region to effectively address the development challenges as it warned them to be clear of the dangers of "hidden agendas" in unviable projects or unsustainable debt, in an apparent reference to China which is accused by the West of "debt trap" diplomacy.

Speaking at the 23rd Council of Ministers Meeting of the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) here, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that it is important to maintain the Indian Ocean as a free, open and inclusive space based on the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas (UNCLOS), as the Constitution of the Seas.

Later in his remarks to the press, Jaishankar said India's commitment to the IORA is deeply rooted in the principles of peaceful coexistence, shared prosperity, and regional collaboration.

"For Member States to grow and prosper, development challenges must be continuously and effectively addressed. In particular, we should cooperate on various aspects of the maritime economy, resources, connectivity and security," he said.

"We should be equally clear where the dangers are, be it in hidden agendas, in unviable projects or in unsustainable debt. Exchange of experiences, sharing of best practices, greater awareness and deeper collaboration are part of the solutions," he said, without naming any country.

The Hambantota port, which was funded by a Chinese loan, was leased to Beijing in a 99-year debt-for-equity swap in 2017 after Sri Lanka failed to pay off the debt.

China's takeover of the Hambantota port on 99 years' lease for a USD 1.2 billion debt swap drew international concerns over Beijing acquiring strategic assets far away from home by providing heavy loans and investment to smaller nations.

There have been global concerns over debt traps and regional hegemony by China using its Belt and Road (BRI) infrastructure projects.

China is doling out huge sums of money for infrastructure projects in countries from Asia to Africa and Europe. The US' previous Donald Trump administration had been extremely critical of the BRI and was of the view that China's "predatory financing" is leaving smaller countries under huge debt endangering their sovereignty.

China has also been flexing its muscles in the strategically vital region and is also engaged in hotly contested territorial disputes in both the South China Sea (SCS) and the East China Sea (ECS). Chinese naval ships and submarines are also active in the Indian Ocean. China is also sending its surveillance and research ships to Sri Lanka.

Jaishankar said that the Indian Ocean is not only a significant body of water but also a crucial economic and strategic corridor, playing a key role.

"India's commitment to the well-being and progress of nations of the Indian Ocean, including as first responder and a net security provider, is based on our Neighbourhood First policy, on the SAGAR outlook, and on our approach to the extended neighbourhood as well," he said.

"It also draws on our broader vision of an Indo-Pacific that is built on a rules-based international order, rule of law, sustainable and transparent infrastructure investment, freedom of navigation and overflight, and sincere respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity," he added.

Jaishankar is among the 16 ministers who attended the meeting which also includes the foreign ministers of Bangladesh, Iran, Mauritius, Malaysia and South Africa.

'We're At War With Hamas, Not With Palestinians': Israel PM's Office

TEL AVIV, Oct 16: Amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict, Tal Heinrich, Spokesperson for the Israeli Prime Minister's Office (PMO) outlined that Israel's battle is against Hamas and not against the people of Palestine.

Heinrich emphasised the resilience of Israeli families and the importance of taking action against Hamas, saying, "Their resilience is our strength. The ones who are aching the most are the ones giving us the most strength."

"Today it is important to highlight what the families told the PM of Israel and what they told the entire nation of Israel, to hold our heads high and to do what must be done against Hamas," she said addressing a virtual press conference on Monday.

Heinrich also revealed that the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) has discovered evidence of a Hamas-produced kidnapper's guide. "The IDF found evidence of Hamas-produced kidnapper's guide. Now the guide explains in gruesome detail how Hamas terrorists should capture and torture kidnapped civilians," added Heinrich.

Further speaking about the guide, she said unveiled "gruesome methods" that Hamas terrorists would employ to capture and torture kidnapped civilians. She further said that more than 1,500 Israelis have been killed and 3,900 injured in the war against Hamas.

Highlighting the critical distinction, Heinrich said, "Israel is at war with Hamas and not with the people of Palestine."

And I urge you to ask your sources in Gaza why Hamas is exploiting innocent Palestinians and is using them as human shields.

She also expressed concerns about Hamas preventing Palestinians in Gaza from moving to safer areas while "using them as human shields with zero regard for their safety".

Heinrich also addressed the situation in northern Gaza, where she noted that while patients and staffers from six hospitals evacuated the premises, 14 did not.

"I was asked yesterday specifically about the state of hospitals in northern Gaza. You see, there are 20 hospitals in that area. The IDF says that six hospitals in the northern Gaza Strip had decided to independently evacuate. However, 14 did not," said Heinrich.

In addition, Heinrich cited a report by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency indicating that fuel and medical equipment had been removed or stolen by a group claiming to be from the Ministry of Health in Gaza.

Heinrich called upon the international community to encourage Palestinians to temporarily relocate to safer zones, underlining that this action "will save lives". She highlighted Israel's own evacuation efforts, with 28 communities in northern Israel and more than 80,000 Israeli civilians evacuated to protect their lives.

Speaking about the recent military actions, Heinrich said that the IDF had conducted numerous airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, targeting Hamas headquarters, mortar launch positions, and terrorists at a military compound. Notably, the command center of Ali Qadhi, a commander in the Hamas commando forces, was also struck.

"The targets included Hamas headquarters, mortar launching positions, and a number of terrorists at a military compound," said Heinrich.

Heinrich expressed Israel's appreciation for the unwavering support of its allies and mentioned Prime Minister Netanyahu's invitation to US President Joe Biden to visit Israel soon.

"Prime Minister Netanyahu invited US President Joe Biden to Israel, and we hope to host the president soon." She conveyed gratitude for the united front against the ongoing conflict.

‘Mustn’t be business as usual with Hamas': Blinken

TEL AVIV, Oct 16: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken returned Monday to Israel after talks in six Arab states, hoping to coordinate efforts against Hamas while finding ways to alleviate Gaza's humanitarian crisis.

Just four days after he paid a lightning visit to Tel Aviv to show solidarity, Blinken flew back and went straight to talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his Jerusalem office.

As Israel prepares what is expected to be a major ground operation in the Gaza Strip, Blinken was later to meet Netanyahu's security cabinet.

"I want an opportunity to share everything that I've heard -- that I've learned -- over the last few days visiting with our other partners and to talk about the way forward with our Israeli allies and friends," Blinken told reporters Sunday in Cairo.

US officials say Blinken heard wide opposition to Hamas from leaders during his tour -- but also concern on the plight of the Palestinians.

"I made clear that it cannot be -- must not be -- business as usual with Hamas going forward," Blinken said in Cairo.

"And at the same time, as I said, we're determined to do everything we can to address the needs of people in Gaza," he said.

India and UK hold first 2+2 dialogue of senior officials

NEW DELHI, Oct 16: India and the UK discussed the possibilities for collaboration in trade, investment, defence, critical technologies and civil aviation during their maiden 2+2 foreign affairs and defence dialogue in New Delhi on Monday.

India has a 2+2 dialogue, either at the level of senior officials or ministers, with close strategic partners such as the US, Japan, Australia and Russia. The dialogue between India and the UK featured senior defence and foreign policy officials of the two sides.

The two sides discussed possibilities for further collaboration, particularly in trade and investment, defence, critical and emerging technologies, civil aviation, health, energy, culture and strengthening the peoples’ connect, the external affairs ministry said in a statement.

India and the UK also considered the possibility of enhancing collaboration in counter-terrorism, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and maritime security.

The officials exchanged assessments on recent international developments, including in the Indo-Pacific region, in view of the shared vision of the two countries for peace, stability and prosperity and for a “free, open and inclusive Indo-Pacific”, the statement said.

The 2+2 dialogue is a mechanism to discuss and review all aspects of the India-UK comprehensive strategic partnership. Both delegations expressed satisfaction at regular high-level political exchanges and interactions that have provided guidance and momentum to multifaceted ties.

The officials also expressed satisfaction at progress in diverse areas of the India-UK Roadmap 2030, including economic cooperation, defence and security, people-to-people ties, and regional and multilateral cooperation.

The Indian delegation was co-chaired by Piyush Srivastava, joint secretary (Europe West) in the external affairs ministry and Vishwesh Negi, joint secretary (international cooperation) in the defence ministry. The British team was co-chaired by Ben Mellor, India director in the Indian Ocean directorate of the foreign ministry, and Lt Gen Rob Magowan, deputy chief of defence staff (finance and military capability).

The two sides will report on the outcomes of the 2+2 dialogue to higher bilateral mechanisms such as the foreign office consultations and defence consultative group. They will hold the second meeting of the dialogue in the UK in 2024.

Israel ready for ground offensive against Hamas

TEL AVIV, Oct 15: The war between Israel and the Hamas militants entered its ninth day on Sunday and is expected to be escalating further. A day after the Israeli military ordered hundreds of thousands of civilians living in Gaza City to evacuate ahead of an expected Israel ground offensive against Hamas for its surprise deadly attack on October 7, the military on Saturday said.

It is seeing a "significant movement" of civilians in southern Palestine. While no decision on a ground offensive has been announced yet, the Israeli troops have been massing troops along the Gaza border.

According to the latest data, the war has claimed at least 3,200 lives since it began last Saturday.

On Sunday morning, Hamas announced that three of its members from Lebanon had been killed after crossing the border from Lebanon into Israel and clashing with Israeli forces. The group said in a statement that its militants had “inflicted losses” before being targeted by Israeli airstrikes.

Israel Air Force chief Maj General Tomer Bar said its primary mission from this point on would shift to paving way for ground troops into Gaza Strip.

"We are laying the groundwork for the most effective possible ground maneuvers. We are removing as many threats as possible regarding the land and the air," the Air Force chief told Israel's daily Jarusalem Post.

Water has run out at U.N. shelters across Gaza as thousands packed into the courtyard of the besieged territory's largest hospital as a refuge of last resort from a looming Israeli ground offensive and overwhelmed doctors struggled to care for patients they fear will die once generators run out of fuel.

Israel’s Tax Authority has opened applications for an estimated NIS 80 million of monetary assistance grants for residents of the Gaza border communities who were evacuated or chose to leave, since Hamas launched its mass assault on October 7.

Residents of communities within seven kilometers of the Gaza Strip border are eligible for grants, according to a cabinet decision.

‘Hands of all parties in the region are on the trigger’, warns Iran

Iran warned Israel of escalation if it failed to end aggressions against Palestinians, with its foreign minister saying other parties in the region were ready to act, the semi-official Fars news agency reported on Sunday.

"If the Zionist aggressions do not stop, the hands of all parties in the region are on the trigger," Hossein Amirabdollahian was quoted as saying.


Israeli army kills two Hamas commanders who led attack

TEL AVIV, Oct 14: The Israeli military on Saturday said it is seeing a "significant movement" of civilians in southern Palestine, a day after Israel warned them to evacuate before an expected ground offensive against Hamas in retaliation for its deadliest attack in Tel Aviv's history on October 7.

The army also said that its ground forces have made "localised" raids in Gaza in the last 24 hours "to cleanse the area of terrorists and weaponry" and find “missing persons”. It also emphasised that they were not targeting Palestinian civilians and are trying to evacuate them.

Israel has also moved its forces, tanks and heavy weapons to the southern desert area around Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that nearly a week of fierce bombardment on Gaza was just the beginning, without elaborating further. Hamas, on the other hand, has vowed to fight to the last drop of blood and has urged residents in Gaza to stay.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden said that consultations were ongoing with regional governments on the humanitarian crisis in Gaza as trapped Palestinians faced severe shortages of power, food and water. He also said that his administration was “working like hell” to rescue American hostages held by Palestine-based militant group Hamas.

Israel has vowed to annihilate Hamas for the October 7 attack in which its fighters killed 1,300 Israelis, mainly civilians, and seized scores of hostages. At least 1,900 Gazans, including more than 600 children, have been killed in waves of retaliatory missile strikes by Israel on Gaza.

Thousands of Palestinians fled the north of the Gaza Strip on Saturday from the path of an expected Israeli ground assault, while Israel pounded the area with more air strikes and said it would keep two roads open to let people escape.

Israeli forces have since put the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, home to 2.3 million Palestinians, under a total siege and bombarded it with unprecedented air strikes. Gaza authorities say more than 2,200 people have been killed, a quarter of them children, and nearly 10,000 wounded.

As an unrelenting Israeli bombardment intensified on Saturday, bakeries in Gaza were running out of bread, drinking water was in short supply and power outages left families without charged phones to find out if fleeing relatives were safe.

"There is an electricity crisis, food crisis, water crisis, a crisis of everything," Eyad Abu Mutlaq, 45, said in Khan Younis in south Gaza, a region filling up with thousands of people fleeing the north for fear of an Israeli invasion.

"It is only God who can resolve it," he said after touring four bakeries to find long queues or no supplies.

Israeli troops are mobilising towards Gaza. Aerial patrolling is also being sent at the Gaza border.

It was recently reported that Israeli soldiers, their tanks and munitions have been deployed near the Gaza border as they prepare for a full ground offensive against Hamas.

In the pictures coming in from the Gaza border, tanks can be seen firing shells towards the Gaza Strip. Moreover, soldiers are seen loading artillery shells into howitzers.

The Israeli army has expressed its regret and has said it is “very sorry” for the death of a journalist in Lebanon, a spokesperson said.

Reuters video journalist, Issam Abdallah, was killed and six others were injured in southern Lebanon on Friday when missiles fired from the direction of Israel struck them.

Meanwhile, an Egyptian official has confirmed that Egypt, Israel, and the United States have reached an agreement to allow foreigners in Gaza to cross the Rafah border into Egypt. Israel has agreed not to strike areas used by these foreigners as they leave the besieged Palestinian territory.

This diplomatic effort also involved Qatar and received approval from Palestinian militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad. At the Egyptian side of the Rafah crossing, officials have received instructions to reopen it for foreigners arriving from Gaza, with the process set to resume on Saturday afternoon.

China calls on US to play 'responsible role' in Israel-Gaza conflict: foreign ministry

BEIJING, Oct 14: China's top diplomat Wang Yi said Saturday that Washington should "play a constructive and responsible role" in the Israel-Gaza conflict, during a phone call with his US counterpart Antony Blinken.

"The United States should practically play a constructive and responsible role, pushing the issue back on track for a political settlement as soon as possible," Wang told Blinken, according to a readout published by the Chinese foreign ministry.

Israeli Ground Forces Made Raids Into Gaza 'Over Past 24 Hours'

TEL AVIV, Oct 13: "During these operations, there was also an effort to locate missing persons," a statement by Israeli army said.

JERUSALEM, Oct 13: Israeli ground forces made raids into Gaza over the past 24 hours, the military said Friday, ahead of an expected ground offensive on the densely populated Palestinian territory.

"Over the past 24 hours, IDF (Israeli military) forces carried out localised raids inside the territory of the Gaza Strip to complete the effort to cleanse the area of terrorists and weaponry," an army statement said.

"During these operations, there was also an effort to locate missing persons."

The raids came amid incessant Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip, with Palestinian militants firing back with rockets.

War erupted between the two sides on Saturday, when Hamas militants attacked communities in Israel and killed more than 1,300 people, most of them civilians.

The militants also abducted an estimated 150 Israelis and foreigners.

The Israeli army said troops "collected evidence that would assist in the effort to locate hostages" during the raids into Gaza, without providing further details.

"Soldiers thwarted terrorist cells and infrastructure located in the area, including a Hamas cell that fired anti-tank missiles toward Israeli territory," the statement added.

Retaliatory strikes on Gaza have killed around 1,800 people and caused mass displacement.

Israel on Friday warned the 1.1 million residents of northern Gaza to flee, ahead of an anticipated ground offensive, a move condemned by the United Nations.

India Advocates Talks for Establishing Palestine State

NEW DELHI, Oct 13: India said Thursday it had "always advocated... direct negotiations towards establishing... a sovereign, independent, and viable state of Palestine". Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi also said India is aware of a universal obligation to observe international humanitarian law.

Describing India's position on the Palestine issue as "longstanding and consistent", Bagchi had said the government would like to see negotiations leading to a Palestine state "living within secure and recognised borders, side-by-side (and) at peace with Israel. That position remains the same."

The government's comments follow earlier statements offering unequivocal support for Israel and no mention of Palestine, which was criticised by opposition politicians and civil society activists.

In his first remark on the Hamas' October 7 strike, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declared himself "deeply shocked" by the attack, which he swiftly identified as a "terrorist" action.

On Tuesday the Prime Minister spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu, on the phone, and said, "India stands firmly with Israel... strongly and unequivocally condemns terrorism..."

The two sets of comments are similar, in that both call out the global evil that is terrorism, but the emphasis this week on "a sovereign... and viable state of Palestine" has been seen as a significant opening of India's position on the war, which broke as Delhi seeks a bigger Middle East role.

It has been seen as a recalibration of stances in light of Israel's devastating response.

India's initial response was seen as one dictated by both humanitarian concern for thousands killed or injured in Israel, and by growth of friendly ties under the Modi and Netanyahu governments.

However, as the situation evolves, and if Arab states that have so far been relatively quiet about the assault on Gaza start to speak up, Delhi may find itself in a difficult situation.

It has multiple strategic, economic and cultural interests with the Arab nations. And then there is oil; India imports the bulk of its oil from Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. If this is stopped or reduced (for any reason), increased imports from Russia can offset some but not all.

India also has historically close ties with Palestine; in 1974 India was the first non-Arab state to recognise it as the "legitimate representative" of the Palestinians and, in 1988, as a full State.

Those ties have continued under the Modi government with the late Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj visiting Palestine in 2016 and the then Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas visiting India in 2017.

Modi returned Abbas' visit a year later, when he said India hoped to see an "independent Palestinian state living in an environment of peace".

In fact, it isn't just Modi's BJP government that has called for "an independent state".

In 1977, when the late former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee, one of the BJP's tallest leaders, said that for the Middle East issue to be resolved "Israel must vacate Palestinian land it has illegally occupied".

That video re-emerged on social media this week as the Israel-Hamas hostilities escalated.

Also, the sum of India's two responses so far reflects more balanced statements made in May 2021, when violence over a volley of rockets by Hamas and subsequent Israel air strikes left nearly 300 dead.

On that occasion India criticised both sides.

India's second, and more balanced response, to this round of war between Israel and the Hamas has been seen as significant also because of the domestic political row the conflict triggered.

After a statement defending their right to "live with dignity and respect, the opposition Congress was accused by the BJP of supporting terrorism and being a "hostage to minority vote bank politics".

Over 1,500 Gazans have been killed in Israeli air strikes so far, ahead of what will be a bloody ground incursion. And, following a "complete siege", over two million people are without electricity and are low on food, water, medicines and other essentials, raising fears of mass starvation and deaths.

Hamas' attacks killed over 1,200 people, including civilians, and they took around 150 hostages.

The threat of that ground incursion escalated sharply today after Israel ordered 1.1 million Gazan civilians in the north to move southwards, despite no clarity on any cessation in aerial strikes.

The United Nations has condemned Israel's demand, which has also been rejected by the Hamas.

Israel Releases Pics Of Murdered Babies That Netanyahu Showed US Leader

TEL AVIV, Oct 12: The office of the Israeli prime minister on Thursday shared horrifying photos of dead babies on social media and said that they were among the pictures shown by Benjamin Netanyahu to visiting US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Netanyahu's office claimed the photos were of babies murdered and burnt by Hamas.

“Here are some of the photos Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Warning: These are horrifying photos of babies murdered and burned by the Hamas monsters. Hamas is inhuman. Hamas is ISIS,” the prime minister's office posted on X, formerly Twitter.

The timing of the post is significant as it comes amid a controversy over Israel's claims of Hamas beheading babies. The claims were seemingly echoed by US President Joe Biden, who had said on Wednesday that the attacks by Hamas were "sheer evil" and claimed to have seen photos of the group's operatives beheading babies.

Later, however, a White House official walked back Biden's comment, stating that neither the US president nor officials in the administration had seen the photos. The official said Biden was referring to reports from Israel and comments from a senior official in the country.

Hamas has denied the claims and said that lies were being spread about “the Palestinian people and the resistance”.

At a joint press conference in Tel Aviv with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Blinken vowed unwavering US support for Israel in its war on Hamas, but also said the Palestinians have "legitimate aspirations" not represented by the group.

"You may be strong enough on your own to defend yourself. But as long as America exists, you will never, ever have to. We will always be there by your side," the US secretary of state said.

A report said Blinken also hinted at the need for an eventual peace settlement - an idea that has been resisted by Netanyahu. "We know Hamas doesn't represent the Palestinian people, or their legitimate aspirations to live with equal measures of security, freedom, justice, opportunity and dignity," he said.

Official accounts of the Israeli government and military have been releasing a series of videos on social media showing the suffering of people in the country since Hamas launched a multi-pronged attack on Saturday. One such video, released on Thursday, showed a young girl narrating how her father and his partner had been killed by Hamas operatives in front of her and her brother in a kibbutz near the Gaza border.

Another video, posted by the Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday, shows a woman walking around a village in southern Israel and talking about how the Hamas attack had left dead bodies everywhere and destroyed houses and vehicles. She had also pointed to clothes left behind by people who had been taken hostage.

At least 3,700 people have been killed in the war, which entered its sixth day on Thursday. There are strong indications that Israel is planning a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip, which is home to 2.3 million people.

Israel PM, Opposition Leader Form Emergency Government Amid War With Hamas

JERUSALEM, Oct 11: Israel formed an emergency unity government on Wednesday as it pounded Gaza to root out Hamas and deploying forces north of the densely populated Palestinian enclave, where the Hamas members said they were still fighting after their cross-border assault.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to form a war cabinet with former defence minister and centrist opposition party leader Benny Gantz and focus entirely on the conflict, a joint statement from Gantz's National Unity party said.

U.S. President Joe Biden condemned the surprise weekend attack on populated areas of southern Israel by hundreds of Hamas gunmen as "sheer evil", and he issued a warning seemingly aimed at its Iranian supporters.

Israel's death count rose to 1,200 with over 2,700 wounded, its military said, from the Hamas members' hours-long rampage after breaching the border fence enclosing Gaza on Saturday.

The group's armed wing, the Al Qassam Brigades, said it was still fighting inside Israel on Wednesday. Israel deployed tanks and armoured vehicles just north of Gaza where the clashes were reported, but had no immediate comment on the Hamas claim.

Retaliatory strikes on the blockaded enclave have killed 1,055 people and wounded 5,184, Palestinian officials say. The U.N. said nine staffers working for the Palestinian refugee agency were among the dead.

Israel has vowed swift punishment for the deadliest attack in its 75-year history, which left corpses strewn around a music festival and a kibbutz community.

The military said dozens of its fighter jets struck more than 200 targets in a neighbourhood of Gaza City overnight that it said had been used by Hamas to launch its attacks.

"We started the offensive from the air, later on we will also come from the ground," Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told soldiers near the fence on Tuesday.

Israel has put Gaza under "total siege" to stop food and fuel reaching the enclave of 2.3 million people, many poor and dependent on aid. Hamas media said on Wednesday electricity went out after the only power station stopped working.

The Israeli military said its troops had killed at least 1,000 Palestinian gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza and the Chief of the General Staff met commanders to discuss their next steps.

"Wherever there are Hamas leaders - the IDF strikes with precision and power," it said, referring to Israel's military.

Scores of Israelis and others from abroad were taken to Gaza as hostages, some of whom were paraded through streets. Both sides have said many women and children were among the dead and wounded, and distraught relatives have held multiple funerals.

Israel said it was shifting schools to remote learning from Sunday and issuing more firearms to licensed citizens, predicting possible friction between its majority Jews and Arab minority amid calls for more protests in support of Gaza.

In the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the acting Palestinian governor of Nablus, Ghassan Daghlas, said Palestinians were shot at and reportedly wounded by Israeli settlers. Reuters could not immediately verify the report and there was no immediate Israeli comment. An Israeli hospital in Ashkelon north of Gaza said it had been hit by a rocket but no casualties were reported.

In another sign of the crisis widening, Israeli shelling hit southern Lebanese towns after a rocket attack by the powerful armed group Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran. It was the fourth consecutive day of violence there and followed shelling from Syria on Tuesday that Israel said it was investigating.

A ground offensive carries risks for Israel, notably to the hostages held in the narrow, widely urbanised Gaza Strip that is tightly ruled by Hamas. It has threatened to execute a captive for each home hit without warning.

Palestinian sources said one of the homes Israeli air strikes hit in Gaza overnight killed three relatives of Hamas military wing chief Mohammed Deif, the secretive mastermind of the assault, which was planned for two years.

Israel withdrew settlers and troops from Gaza in 2005 after 38 years of occupation. An Israeli blockade since Hamas seized power in the enclave in 2007 has created conditions which Palestinians say are intolerable.

Washington said it was talking with Israel and Egypt about safe passage for civilians from Gaza, with food in short supply.

Hussein Al-Sheikh, an official in the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, said the international community must intervene urgently to avert "a major humanitarian catastrophe".

Biden called the Hamas attacks "an act of sheer evil" and said Washington was rushing military assistance to Israel, including replenishing its Iron Dome aerial defence system.

He urged Israel to avoid causing civilian casualties and said the U.S. had strengthened its presence in the region by moving an aircraft carrier strike group and fighter aircraft.

"Let me say again to any country, any organization, anyone thinking of taking advantage of the situation, I have one word: don't," said Biden, in an assumed reference to Iran and its proxies.

U.S. officials say they do not have evidence Iran orchestrated the attacks, but point to the Islamic Republic's long-term support for Hamas.

Israel said at least 14 U.S. nationals and at least 17 British nationals were dead or missing in the Hamas assault. Countries scrambled to evacuate their citizens.

The United Nations said more than 180,000 Gazans had been made homeless, many huddling on streets or in schools.

Wounded Palestinian Ala al-Kafarneh said he had lost eight family members when they were caught by an Israeli attack after fleeing two others. "We have done nothing," he said.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry said Israeli strikes had destroyed more than 22,600 residential units and 10 health facilities and damaged 48 schools.

Palestinian U.N. envoy Riyad Mansour wrote to the U.N. Security Council accusing Israel of war crimes.

Violence also flared in Arab East Jerusalem and in the West Bank, where officials say 21 Palestinians have been killed and 130 injured in clashes with Israeli forces since Saturday.

Tell Israel We're Here, Hamas Gunman Orders Family Held Hostage

GAZA, Oct 11: As the war between Israel and Gaza entered its fifth day on Wednesday, a heartbreaking video has surfaced, showing how Hamas is using Israeli hostages - including children - as bargaining chips.

The video, live-streamed by Hamas, shows a gunman ordering a family to talk while a man bleeds from his leg and his wife sits next to him, with a young girl in her lap. Two other children sit on either side of the couple, with a sobbing girl holding her mouth to keep from screaming.

"Talk to your country, tell them we are here," the gunman tells the man, who says that Hamas operatives are in their house in the kibbutz of Nahal Oz, close to Gaza. Looking into the camera, the man says he has been shot in the leg.

A Hamas operative asks the man for an identity card and when he says he needs to get up to find it, he is helped up by one of the hostage-takers, the profusely bleeding wound on his leg clearly visible.

The gunmen are then seen forcing the couple's son, at gunpoint, to persuade other people in the neighbourhood to leave their homes.

Hamas is holding at least 150 hostages, including children and a holocaust survivor, and has threatened to kill one hostage every time Israel drops a bomb, without warning, on a civilian home in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas' chilling warning came after Israel ordered a siege of the Gaza strip, cutting off electricity and water, and stopping food and fuel from entering the densely populated territory, which is home to 2.3 million people.

Despite running the risk of hostage killings making it unpopular, the Israeli government has shown no signs of easing its massive military offensive against Hamas. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared Hamas to ISIS and said his country's actions are only the start of a sustained war to destroy the group and "change the Middle East".

"Hamas terrorists bound, burned and executed children. They are savages. Hamas is ISIS," Mr Netanyahu said.

Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant also took a hardline stance while addressing troops deployed along the Gaza border on Tuesday, stating that he has released all restraints and Gaza will "never go back to what it was".

"You will have the ability to change the reality here. You have seen the prices (being paid), and you will get to see the change. Hamas wanted a change in Gaza; it will change 180 degrees from what it thought," The Times of Israel quoted the minister as saying.

"They will regret this moment, Gaza will never go back to what it was," Gallant said, adding that Israel would, without compromise, eliminate "whoever comes to decapitate, murder women, Holocaust survivors".

At least 3,000 people have been killed in the deadly conflict, which began after Hamas fired 5,000 rockets into Israel on Saturday and launched a multi-pronged attack on the country, from air, land and sea.

Israel Shares Pictures Of Children Kidnapped By Hamas Operatives

TEL AVIV, Oct 11: Hundreds of Israelis are being held as hostages by Hamas fighters in locations across Gaza following their raids on southern Israel on Saturday. Hamas has said it has hidden them in "safe places and tunnels" within Gaza and threatened to kill them if civilian homes are bombed by Israel without warning. Human rights groups are tracking these kidnappings as evidence of war crimes.

Among the many hostages are also little children, who were snatched away from their families from their homes. Many harrowing stories and videos have surfaced on social media including the abduction of entire families including infants and children. One video showed Hamas gunmen capturing a mother and her 9-month-old and 3-year-old sons.

On Wednesday, Israel's official X account reposted a tweet showing pictures of children kidnapped by Hamas operatives.

"Tonight is the 4th night our babies will spend in Gaza. We do not know if they were harmed, injured, or even if they are still alive. This is the time to support Israel. Do everything you can to save our children, elders, men, and women from Hamas, a terrorist ISIS-like organization. Don't look away," the post originally shared by Ella Travels read.

The exact number of hostages is unclear, but the Israel Defense Forces said on Saturday that is it "unfortunately, a significant number." Israel's ambassador to the UK, Tzipi Hotovely, told Sky News that "over 100 people" have been taken, and their families "don't know where they are."

Babies, children, women, the elderly, and the disabled were among those taken hostage, according to IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas was responsible for their care and well-being and Israel would "settle the score with anyone who harms them.” However, the hostages present a significant problem for the Israeli government which has vowed to respond to Hamas' attacks with a "massive" assault and "unprecedented force".

“The cruel reality is Hamas took hostages as an insurance policy against Israeli retaliatory action, particularly a massive ground attack,” said Aaron David Miller, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

In Israel-Gaza War, Hamas' Off-The-Shelf Drones Destroy Million Dollar Hardware

New Delhi: The Hamas group in the massive terror attack on Israel last week used some tactics that military experts say was rarely used earlier.

Apart from the use of powered gliders to insert heavily armed men into Israel from the Gaza Strip, the Hamas also deployed weaponised commercial drones to incapacitate static Israeli defences.

The Hamas' use of commercial four-rotor drones to drop small bombs, which appeared to be mortar rounds, on light Israeli defence fortifications has led to worries among military analysts as this form of attack could be replicated by insurgent and terror groups anywhere in the world.

The use of weaponised commercial drones that are easily available in neighbourhood electronics stores - the types used by YouTube and Instagram bloggers to make reels - was first seen in Ukraine.

The outnumbered Ukrainian forces have been using small drones fitted with improvised hand grenades and mortar rounds to drop on the armoured elements of the invading Russian military. This tactic is said to be very effective.

A small drone that costs a fraction of an armoured personnel carrier can disable the vehicle or even neutralise troops, which presents a big challenge for a larger force that moves in big formations.

When Hamas started the terror attack on Israel on Saturday, it sent a swarm of commercial drones armed with small bombs. While Hamas men razed the border with bulldozers and came in powered gliders - which itself was a surprise of sorts - it sent the drones to attack watch towers along the border fence. The Israeli watch towers are protected from the sides with armour, but have no roof. The bombs dropped by the drones fell straight into the gunner's seat, disabling Israel's first line of border defence.

Another video shows Hamas destroyed an Israeli Merkava Mark IV tank with what appears to be a mortar dropped by a drone. Tanks usually have thin armour on the top (and the rear), which is also its most vulnerable part. This is why some of the most effective man-portable anti-tank missile systems like the Javelin have a top-down attack - the missile flies upwards and then descends rapidly to hit the upper part of the tank where the lightly armoured hatch is located, instead of hitting from the sides.

Military planners around the world are waking up to the threat posed by drones now. Many nations have invested in anti-drone technologies like jammers to disable or override the controls of the drones.

Shahid Latif, Key Conspirator Of Pathankot Terror Attack, Killed In Pakistan

NEW DELHI, Oct 11: Shahid Latif, one of India's most wanted terrorists, was today shot dead by unknown gunmen in Pakistan's Sialkot. Latif was a key conspirator in the 2016 Pathankot terror attack in which seven security personnel were killed.

Police said that Latif was killed inside a mosque and they are still trying to identify the attackers. Another Jaish terrorist was killed in the attack, which the police have listed as a terror incident. The gunmen fled the scene on a motorcycle and cops have launched a probe into the killing.

Latif had been working as a Maulvi in Sialkot's Noot Masjid. A senior police officer, Hassan Iqbal, said that they have launched an investigation to find and catch the attackers.

Latif, associated with the Jaish-e-Mohammed, had from Sialkot guided the 4 terrorists who carried out the terror attack at the Pathankot airbase. Seven Indian Air Force personnel were killed when four JeM terrorists sneaked into the Pathankot Air Force Station on January 2, 2016. The encounter went on for three days.

He had been arrested in India in 1994 on terror charges. He was then put on trial and eventually jailed. He completed his sentence in 2010, after which he was deported to Pakistan via the Wagah border.

The 41-year-old was listed as a wanted terrorist by the Indian government in 2010.

Latif's killing is the latest in a series of attacks on terrorists in Pakistan. Last month, Mufti Qaisar Farooq and Ziaur-Rehman of Lashkar was killed in Karachi.

In February, top Hizbul commander Bashir Ahmad Peer was killed in Rawalpindi.

There are several other terrorist operatives who have been killed in Pakistan in the last 18 months.

Israel Retakes Gaza Border Areas From Hamas, War Death Count Crosses 3,000

JERUSALEM, Oct 10: Israel said it recaptured Gaza border areas from Hamas terrorists as the war's death count passed 3,000 on Tuesday, the fourth day of fierce fighting since the Islamists launched a surprise attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Israel's military campaign following Saturday's onslaught was only the start of a sustained war to destroy Hamas and "change the Middle East".

Fears of a regional conflagration have surged amid expectations of a looming Israeli ground incursion into Gaza, the crowded enclave from where Hamas launched its land, air, and sea attack on the Jewish Sabbath.

The death count in Israel has surged above 900 from the worst attack in the country's 75-year history, while Gaza officials have reported 765 people killed so far.

Hamas gunmen killed more than 100 people in the kibbutz of Beeri alone, said Moti Bukjin, a volunteer with the charity Zaka that recovers bodies in accordance with Jewish law.

"They shot everyone," he said. "They murdered in cold blood children, babies, old people -- everyone."

The veteran leader PM Netanyahu at the helm of Israel's hard-right coalition also called for an "emergency government of national unity" after years of political crisis and bitter societal divisions.

The Israeli army has called up 300,000 reservists for its "Swords of Iron" campaign and massed tanks and other heavy armour both near Gaza and on the northern border with Lebanon.

The military said its forces had largely reclaimed the embattled south and the border around Gaza and dislodged holdout Hamas fighters from more than a dozen towns and kibbutzim.

"Around 1,500 bodies of Hamas (fighters) have been found in Israel around the Gaza Strip," said army spokesman Richard Hecht, adding security forces had "more or less restored control over the border" with the enclave.

Biden terms Hamas attack on Israel ‘act of sheer evil’; pledges support to Israel

WASHINGTON, Oct 10: President Joe Biden on Tuesday denounced Hamas and stressed U.S. support for Israel as it mourns the killing of more than 1,000 people, including at least 14 Americans, from a surprise attack launched by the Palestinian militant group.

The president also voiced concern for Americans being held hostage by Hamas, an Iranian-backed Islamist group.

"There are moments in this life and I mean this literally when the pure unadulterated evil is unleashed on this world. The people of Israel lived through one such moment this weekend," Biden said. ​ "This is an act of sheer evil," he said.

Israel pounded the Gaza Strip on Tuesday with the fiercest air strikes in its 75-year-old conflict with the Palestinians, razing whole districts despite a threat from Hamas militants to execute a captive for each home hit without warning.

Biden spoke after his third phone call in four days with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He outlined in his remarks the U.S. military assistance being sent to help Israel in its fight.

During his address to the nation on the ongoing fighting between Israel and Hamas, US President Joe Biden said at least 14 Americans has been killed in the conflict.

Another Powerful Quake Hits Afghan Area Where 2,400 Died Last Weekend

KABUL, Oct 11: A magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck western Afghanistan on Wednesday, hitting an area where more than 2,400 people were killed after a series of similar tremors on the weekend.

The quake occurred at a shallow depth at around 05:10 am local time (00:40 GMT), with its epicentre about 29 kilometres north of the city of Herat, the United States Geological Survey said.

Volunteers and rescuers have been working since Saturday in what are now last-ditch attempts to find survivors from the earlier series of earthquakes, which levelled entire villages and affected more than 12,000 people, according to UN estimates.

Local and national officials have given conflicting counts of the number of dead and injured from the previous earthquakes, but the disaster ministry has said 2,400 people died.

Now world knows, Hamas is ISIS: Netanyahu

TEL AVIV, Oct 9: Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu, in his first public address after the attack, said ‘we have not seen atrocities that Hamas carried out since the days of ISIS’.

“We have always known what Hamas is. Now the world knows. Hamas is ISIS.”

Over the last three days, Israel has counted over 900 dead. Palestinian officials said Israel's barrage of air strikes on Gaza has raised the death count to 687. The US has confirmed that nine of its citizens have died. Israel's army said it has regained control of southern areas near the Gaza Strip taken over by the Hamas.

Hamas, meanwhile, has threatened to kill hostages if the Israeli army carried out air strikes without prior warning targeting residents of the Gaza Strip.

"Every targeting of our people without warning will be met with the execution of one of the civilian hostages," said Ezzedine al-Qassem Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Israel would impose a "complete siege" on the long-blockaded enclave. The impact on its 2.3 million people will be "No electricity, no food, no water, no gas -- it's all closed", he said.

Palestinians in the impoverished and crowded coastal territory are bracing for an Israeli ground attack aiming to defeat Hamas and liberate at least 100 hostages.

On Day 3 of the war, skies over Gaza were blackened by plumes of smoke as fighter jets roared above. Hamas kept firing rockets as far as Jerusalem, where air raid sirens blared and detonations were heard.

"Overnight IDF fighter jets, helicopters, aircraft and artillery struck over 500 Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorist targets in the Gaza Strip," said a statement by the Israeli Defense Forces.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Gaza civilians to get away from all Hamas sites which he has vowed to turn "to rubble".

On Saturday, more than 1,000 Hamas troops broke through the border fence in Gaza and swarmed to nearby Jewish communities. There gunmen went house to house, mowing down people or abducting them back into Gaza.

Foreigners killed in Israel-Hamas war include US, French, Thai citizens

TEL AVIV, Oct 9: The United States confirmed the deaths of nine US citizens and said others were still unaccounted for.

Foreigners have been killed, injured or taken hostage during a surprise attack on Israel by Hamas Saturday which left 700 people dead, mostly Israelis. Many of the missing foreigners were at an electronic music festival in Israel where many revellers were massacred.

The United States confirmed the deaths of nine US citizens and said others were still unaccounted for.

"At this time, we can confirm the deaths of nine US citizens," US state department spokesman Matthew Miller said.

Twelve Thai labourers were killed, eight were wounded and 11 were taken captive, the foreign ministry said. There were around 5,000 Thai labourers working in the areas hit by fighting, it informed.

Ten citizens of Nepal were killed in Kibbutz Alumim, its embassy in Tel Aviv said while four others were being treated in hospital.

Two Ukrainian women who had been living in Israel for years were killed, Ukraine's foreign ministry spokesman said.

Two French people have been killed in "Hamas's terrorist attacks against Israel", the French government said.

Jake Marlowe, 26, who moved to Israel from Britain two years ago, is believed to have been taken hostage. Israel's ambassador to Britain said that there was one British citizen in Gaza, without naming the person.

The Canadian government said on that it was trying to confirm reports that one Canadian had died and two others were missing.

Several dual German-Israeli nationals were kidnapped, a German foreign ministry source said told news agency AFP.

Brazil's foreign ministry said that three dual Brazilian-Israeli nationals were missing after attending the festival and a fourth was being treated in hospital.

Mexico's foreign minister said that two Mexicans, one man and one woman, had been taken hostage, without giving further details.

This is our 9/11, Hamas went for babies, grandmothers: Israel Defense Forces

TEL AVIV, Oct 8: Hamas did not target the military but went after the civilians, Israel claimed after more than 600 people were killed in Hamas' attack.

On the second day of the Israel-Hamas war, the IDF said the last 24 hours were very hard as unprecedented events unfolded following the attack of Hamas on Saturday. As Israel started retaliating and announced an all-out war against Hamas mobilising all army reserves, Israel Defence Forces spokesperson Richard Hecht said this is Israel's 9/11 and more than that.

"In a way, this is our 9/11 and even more than that. It wasn't crashing into a building. It was mutilating and attacking the Gaza Strip Nature Party, attacking civilians, kidnapping a grandmother," the spokesperson said.

"We are going to respond to this very very seriously. This is against international law, this is against Islam -- hurting children. I mean, this is all very hard to comprehend and all of this makes us all sick.. I hope Hezbollah and Iran do not make the mistake of joining in. We are ready," the spokesperson said.

We have been talking about Hamas for years who they are & what they want - the annihilation of our state...Everybody got a taste of who they are, yesterday. They attacked us on the ground, in the air & also through the sea. They did not go for military targets, they went for civilians.. children, babies, grandmothers...the visuals are eyesore. The style of the attack is barbaric," the IDF spokesperson said.

The toll in Isreal reached over 600 including soldiers and civilians. Israel's counterattack in the Gaza Strip resulted in 300 deaths while 1,500 people were left wounded.

Hamas held several people including women, children and the elderly captive and took them back into the Gaza enclave with an aim to trade for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country was at war and would exact a heavy price from its enemies. Netanyahu warned that the war could go on for a very long time. Hamas also said they are ready for a long fight.

Lebanon's Hezbollah on Sunday fired dozens of rockers at three Israeli positions in a disputed area along the border. Israel’s military fired back using armed drones. Two children were lightly wounded by broken glass on the Lebanese side, reports said.

Hamas said it had continued to send forces and equipment overnight into “a number of locations inside our occupied territories,” referring to Israel.

Israel struck 426 targets in Gaza, its military said.

Israel's cabinet declared war so that significant military steps could be taken.

The United States is focussing on helping Israel recover the territory that has been taken by Hamas.

A major portion of Gaza was without electricity on Sunda as Israel cut off electricity and said it would no longer supply power, fuel or other goods to Gaza.

Egypt spoke to both sides but Israel was not open to a ceasefire at this stage.

US Navy moving warships, aircraft closer to Israel amid Hamas attack: Report

WASHINGTON, Oct 8: The US Navy is moving its warships and aircraft closer to Israel amid an unprecedented assault on the country from Hamas, a US military official told Fox News as US president Joe Biden affirmed Israel's right to defend itself.

Joe Biden ordered "additional support" for Israel, the White House said, without giving further details.

"The President directed additional support for Israel in the face of this unprecedented terrorist assault by Hamas," the White House said in a statement following high-level discussions between US and Israeli officials on military aid.

The White House said Joe Biden and US vice president Kamala Harris were briefed by national security officials on the situation in Israel and will continue to receive updates, the White House said.

White House officials will also remain in contact with Israelis and "counterparts throughout the region," the statement added. This came after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Washington is considering Israeli requests for additional military aid.

The US is looking into reports that the country's citizens were killed or taken hostage in the surprise attack, Antony Blinken said.

“These are early days. Israel has to, first and foremost, ensure the security of its people in Israel, and then it’s determined to take steps to try to make sure that this doesn’t happen again," he continued.

Over Than 2000 Dead, 9000 Injured in Afghanistan Earthquake

KABUL, Oct 8: More than 2,000 people were killed by several strong earthquakes that struck westernAfghanistan, the Taliban administration said on Sunday.

The tremors hit Saturday morning and were mostly focused in the country’s western region, with many felt in neighbouring Iran.

The US Geological Survey (USGS) said the quakes – one of which measured 6.3 magnitude – hit some 35 kms northwest of the city of Herat, causing panic in the city.

The earthquake and its subsequent, strong aftershocks left 2,053 people dead and 9,240 more injured, a spokesperson for the National Disaster Management Authority said.

Several villages in Herat province were completely destroyed, including at least 600 houses, according to the World Health Organization. Hundreds of civilians have been buried under the debris, with the Taliban government calling for urgent help.

“We ask our wealthy compatriots to give any possible cooperation and help to our afflicted brothers,” the Taliban said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.

Authorities expected the number of casualties to rise, as the search operation for those under the rubble continues.

The earthquake is among the worst to have hit Afghanistan in decades. However, the country, which lies in a region where the Arabian, Indian and Eurasian plates meet, is no stranger to quakes.

In 2022, over 1,000 people were killed in a devastating tremor.

Decades of conflict have also left the country with poorly built structures, making it all the more vulnerable to disasters.

Israel Announces 'State Of War' After Hamas Terror Attack; Over 350 Dead

TEL AVIV, Oct 7: Israel on Saturday declared war against Palestine's Hamas, vowing to avenge a fierce rocket attack that the militants claimed was only their "first strike". Israeli military have already launched air strikes on the blockaded Gaza strip. The attacks killed over 100 people in Israel and at least 198 in Gaza.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country is at war and Hamas will pay an unprecedented price. "Citizens of Israel, we are at war. This is not an operation, not an escalation - this is war. And we will win. Hamas will pay an unprecedented price," he said in a video message.

Over 5,000 rockets pierced the sky towards Israel as loud sires blared across the country on this festive holiday morning. The country's defence forces also alleged an infiltration by Hamas militants, whom they consider terrorists.

Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said Hamas made a "grave mistake" in launching a war against Israel. "Hamas has made a grave mistake this morning and launched a war against the State of Israel. IDF troops (Israeli army) are fighting against the enemy at every location," Gallant said in a statement.

The Indian embassy there has asked its citizens living in Israel to remain vigilant and observe safety protocols as advised by local authorities. "Please exercise caution, avid unnecessary movement and stay close to safety shelters," it said in an advisory.

27 From Meghalaya On Pilgrimage To Jerusalem Stuck Amid Conflict: Chief Minister
Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Saturday sought the help of the Ministry of External Affairs to rescue 27 people from the state stranded in the war-like situation between Israel and the terror group Hamas. Sangma said he is in touch with the ministry to bring the people back to the state.

Taking to 'X', he said, "27 citizens of Meghalaya who traveled to Jerusalem for the Holy Pilgrimage are stuck in Bethlehem due to the present tension between Israel and Palestine."

"The Israel Defense Forces declares a state of readiness for war. There has been widespread rocket fire into Israeli territory from Gaza, and terrorists have infiltrated Israeli territory through various entry points," Israeli military earlier said and vowed to defend the country.

The armed wing of Hamas declared it has begun "Operation Al-Aqsa Flood" and said it has fired over 5,000 rockets in the "first strike of 20 minutes." "We have decided to put an end to all of this, with the help of God, so that the enemy understands that the time of recklessness without accountability is over," Hamas militant leader Mohamed Deif said in a pre-recorded speech.

Sirens are blazing in the holy city of Jerusalem and across Israel as multiple points of impact have been reported across southern and central parts of the country. The government has asked civilians to stay near shelters and those near the Gaza strip to stay home. An elderly Israeli woman was killed "due to a direct hit" in the rocket attacks and 15 others were injured, emergency services said.

Haunting visuals of people fleeing their homes in Gazan border areas have surfaced online. Hundreds of men and women were seen moving away from the border with Israel, carrying blankets and food items.

Israel ordered its state-run electricity company to halt supply to the Gaza Strip on Saturday after Palestinian militant group Hamas launched a surprise attack on Israel, the energy minister said.

"I have signed an order instructing (Israel) Electric Company to stop the electricity supply to Gaza," Energy Minister Israel Katz said in a statement.

Israel and Palestinian militants have fought several wars since Hamas took power in Gaza in 2007. The latest comes as tensions heightened after Israel closed borders to Gazan workers. As many as 247 Palestinians, 32 Israelis and two foreigners have been killed in the conflict this year so far. These include both fighters and civilians.

The violence erupted a day after Hamas said that the "people had to draw a line to end the occupation" and added that Israel continued to commit crimes across Palestinian land, and especially on the holy site of Al-Aqsa in Jerusalem.

Biden Warns Against 'Any Other Party Hostile To Israel Seeking Advantage'

Oct 7: Joe Biden warns against "any other party hostile to Israel seeking advantage" after Hamas assault.

A surprise attack by the Palestinian militant group Hamas against Israel risks provoking a "major regional escalation", Germany's Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said Saturday, adding that "other" actors in the Middle East could join the hostilities.

"This terrorism by Hamas once again moves the region farther from peace," Baerbock said in a statement.

She added that the violence showed "once again" that "only a political solution can permit Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and dignity".

The German government is also "strongly advising" against travel to Israel or the Palestinian territories, she said, urging Germans in the region to register with the foreign ministry.

German flag carrier Lufthansa also said it was cutting flights to Israel.

120 Dead, Over 1,000 Injured As 6.3 Magnitude Earthquake Hits Afghanistan

HERAT, Oct 7: The death count from a magnitude 6.3 earthquake in western Afghanistan on Saturday has risen to "about 120", disaster relief authorities said, with more than 1,000 others being treated for injuries.

The United States Geological Survey said the epicentre was 40 kilometres (25 miles) northwest of the region's largest city Herat, and was followed by eight aftershocks with magnitudes between 4.3 and 6.3.

"So far, more than 1,000 injured women, children, and old citizens have been included in our records, and about 120 people have lost their lives," said Herat province disaster management head Mosa Ashari.

Crowds of residents fled buildings in Herat at around 11:00 am (0630 GMT) as the quakes began.

"We were in our offices and suddenly the building started shaking," said 45-year-old resident Bashir Ahmad.

"Wall plasters started to fall down and the walls got cracks, some walls and parts of the building collapsed," he said.

Herat -- 120 kilometres east of the border with Iran -- is considered the cultural capital of Afghanistan.

It is the capital of Herat province, which is home to an estimated population of 1.9 million, according to 2019 World Bank data.

Afghanistan is frequently hit by earthquakes, especially in the Hindu Kush mountain range, which lies near the junction of the Eurasian and Indian tectonic plates.

In June last year, more than 1,000 people were killed and tens of thousands left homeless after a 5.9-magnitude quake -- the deadliest in Afghanistan in nearly a quarter of a century -- struck the impoverished province of Paktika.

In March of this year, 13 people were killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by a magnitude 6.5 quake, which hit near Jurm in northeastern Afghanistan.

At Least 49 Killed In Russian Rocket Strike On Grocery Store In Ukraine

KYIV, Oct 5: Ukrainian officials said Thursday that a Russian strike on a grocery store and cafe in the eastern region of Kharkiv had killed dozens of people.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the strike had slammed into the Kupiansk district of the war-battered region bordering Russia, where Moscow's forces have been pushing to recapture territory they lost last year to Ukrainian troops.

"The brutal Russian crime of hitting an ordinary grocery store with a rocket is a completely deliberate terrorist attack," Zelensky said in a statement on social media.

The Ukrainian prosecutor general said at least 49 people were killed.

Zelensky posted an image of a woman kneeling over the body of someone apparently killed in the strike, with other corpses strewn around her, while rescue workers worked nearby.

The head of the Kharkiv region Oleg Sinegubov said the strike hit a cafe and shop around 1:15 pm (1015 GMT) in the village of Groza.

The village is 30 kilometres (around 20 miles) west of Kupiansk, a frontline town, and is estimated to have had a pre-war population of around 500 people.

"Rescuers are working on the scene," he said, adding that a 6-year-old boy was among the dead. One child had been injured, he added.

'Will Send Back Foreign Troops': Maldives Prez-elect Muizzu

MALE, Oct 3: The president-elect of the Maldives, Mohamed Muizzu, has marked his victory with a pledge to end the foreign military presence in his small but strategically placed atoll nation.

Muizzu, 45, addressing his first public rally after winning Saturday's runoff election stopped short of naming India, the only foreign power with a military deployment in the archipelago.

"We will be sending back military forces based in the Maldives according to law, and for sure we will do that accordingly," Muizzu said at the rally in the capital Male on Monday night.

"The people who brought... military forces don't want to send them back, but the people of the Maldives decided," he said.

Outgoing President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih had realigned the nation's relations with traditional benefactor India, after his predecessor Abdulla Yameen moved the Maldives into Beijing's orbit, borrowing heavily from China for infrastructure projects.

Muizzu is a proxy of Yameen who was barred from last month's election because of his criminal conviction for corruption.

Within hours of his victory, Muizzu secured the release of Yameen, who was serving an 11-year jail sentence at the high-security Maafushi prison, and transferred him to house arrest in Male.

Muizzu, who is also the current Mayor of Male, brushed aside media descriptions of him as a pro-China leader and said he will be "pro-Maldives".

"My top priority will be the Maldives and its situation," Muizzu said. "We will be choosing to be pro-Maldives. Any country who respects and obeys our pro-Maldives policy is considered a close friend of the Maldives."

Prime Minister Narendra Modi was among the first leaders to congratulate Muizzu on Sunday.

New Delhi is "committed to strengthening the time-tested India-Maldives bilateral relationship", Modi posted on social media platform X.

China congratulated Muizzu on Monday, saying it "respects the choice of the Maldivian people".

"China is willing to work with the Maldives to consolidate the traditional friendship, deepen mutually beneficial cooperation and push for continuous new progress," Beijing's foreign ministry said in a statement.

The Maldives, a chain of atolls scattered 800 kilometres (500 miles) across the equator and known for its upmarket beach resorts, straddles one of the world's busiest east-west shipping lanes.

Muizzu told a meeting with Chinese Communist Party officials last year that his party's return to office would "script a further chapter of strong ties between our two countries".

Trudeau says Canada not looking to escalate situation with India

TORONTO, Oct 3: Canada is not looking to escalate situation with India and will continue to engage ‘responsibly and constructively with New Delhi’, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

Trudeau's remark comes amid diplomatic row with New Delhi which kickstarted after Ottawa expelled an Indian diplomat over Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar's killing in June. Trudeau had claimed “credible allegations of a potential link” between Indian government agents and Nijjar's killing in Surrey on June 18.

The Canadian prime minister's remark comes on the day India asked Canada to withdraw several dozen diplomats from its missions in the country. Last month, the external affairs ministry had announced that the Canadian government was informed about the need for “parity in strength and rank equivalence” in mutual diplomatic presence.

On Sunday, external affairs minister S Jaishankar while interacting with journalists in the US had referred to Canada, saying it is necessary to call out things like violence, threats and intimidation against Indian diplomats and missions and wondered if this had happened to any other country would the world have taken it with equanimity.

“...Our point is that there is today a climate of violence, an atmosphere of intimidation...Just think about it. We have had smoke bombs thrown at the mission. We have had our consulates…violence in front of them. Individuals have been targeted and intimidated. There are posters put up about people,", he said.

When asked about Trudeau's allegations, the external affairs minister replied,“The Canadians have made some allegations. We have pointed out to them that this is not the government of India's policy and if they are prepared to share with us specifics and anything relevant, we are also open to looking at it. So in that sense, that's where the matter stands".

“But what we do not want to see is an incident treated in isolation because then that somewhere does not convey the right picture”, Jaishankar added.

UK Gurdwara Condemns Khalistani Extremists After Indian Envoy Denied Entry

GLASGOW, Oct 1: The Glasgow Gurdwara, where an Indian envoy was stopped from entering by Khalistani extremists, today issued a statement strongly condemning the incident. Hitting out at the "disorderly behaviour", the Gurdwara said that it was open to people from all communities and backgrounds.

"An incident occurred on 29 September 2023 at Glasgow Gurdwara where the Indian High Commissioner was on a personal visit, facilitated by a member of Scottish Parliament. Certain unknown individuals from outside the Glasgow area attempted to disrupt this visit, following which the visiting party decided to leave the premises," the statement by Glasgow Gurdwara Guru Granth Sahib Sikh Sabha stated.

The Gurdwara said that the "unruly individuals" continued to disturb the congregation even after the Indian envoy had left.

“Glasgow Gurdwara strongly condemns such disorderly behaviour to disrupt the peaceful proceedings of a Sikh place of worship," the statement added.

Indian High Commissioner, Vikram Doraiswami, was stopped from entering the Gurdwara by Khalistani extremists on Saturday.

A purported video going viral on social media shows a man preventing the Indian High Commissioner to the UK, Vikram Doraiswami, from entering the gurdwara in Glasgow on Friday. Two men are also seen attempting to open the door of the High Commissioner's car in the parking area. The car is then seen leaving the premises of Glasgow Gurudwara Saheb.

India has raised the "disgraceful" incident with the UK government. Junior UK foreign minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan acknowledged the video going viral on social media and said she was "concerned".

"The safety and security of foreign diplomats is of utmost importance and our places of worship in the UK must be open to all," she said on X, formerly Twitter.

The incident comes amid the snowballing diplomatic row between India and Canada, which was triggered by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accusing "Indian government agents" of involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June.


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