According to Al Jazeera, Israeli troops tightened their encirclement of the largest city in the Gaza Strip, amid continued battles with Hamas militants. Strikes hit near the entrances of three hospitals in northern Gaza just as staff were trying to evacuate wounded to the south, hospital directors said. The Israeli attack hit an ambulance at the gate of al-Shifa Hospital, killing 15 people and injuring 16 others, Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza told Al-Quds newspaper. Israel has confirmed it bombed the ambulance convoy, alleging that the vehicles were being used to transport “Hamas terrorists and weapons”. Footage showed more than a dozen bloodied bodies of men, women and children strewn next to damaged cars and ambulances. One bleeding boy screamed as he huddled on top of a woman sprawled on the pavement. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said he was “horrified” by the attack. He said the conflict “must end”, adding the images of bodies strewn on the street outside the hospital were “heartbreaking”. Overwhelmed hospitals say they are nearing collapse, with medicine and fuel running low under the Israeli siege. The UN said on Friday about 1.5 million people in Gaza, or 70 per cent of the population, have fled their homes. At least 9,227 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7 and more than 1,400 people have been killed in Israel.
Detained Palestinian workers deported back to Gaza
Israel on Friday deported thousands of Palestinian workers from the Gaza strip who were stranded in Israel when war broke out last month back to the besieged territory, Palestinian authorities said, capping what many described as harrowing weeks trapped in legal limbo since their detention when the Israel-Hamas war erupted. Some workers, streaming by foot through an Israeli crossing that had been sealed shut since Hamas unleashed its attack on southern Israel, told of violent mistreatment by Israeli authorities in detention centres. The Associated Press quoted one of the workers, pointing to his ankle fitted with an identification bracelet, as saying: “They treated us like livestock over there.”
Israel resists US pressure to pause the war on Hamas
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pushed back against growing US pressure for a “humanitarian pause” in the war to protect civilians and allow more aid into the Gaza Strip, insisting there will be no temporary ceasefire until Israeli hostages held by Hamas were released. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made his third trip to Israel since the war began, reiterating support for Israel’s campaign to crush Hamas after its 7th October attack in southern Israel. Times of Israel says Blinken warned Israel it risked destroying an eventual possibility for peace unless it acted swiftly to improve humanitarian conditions in Gaza for Palestinian civilians as it intensifies its war against Hamas. But Netanyahu said he told the US diplomat that Israel was “going with full steam ahead” unless hostages are released.
Storm Ciaran Brings Deadly Flooding to Italy and Albania
Storm Ciaran has caused deadly flooding in Italy and Albania, bringing floods to the Tuscany region and raising the death toll to 14. At least three people have died in Italy and at least seven people were killed earlier in France, Belgium, Germany, and the Netherlands as the storm swept across the continent. The storm brought heavy rain and strong winds, causing rivers to overflow and roads to be flooded. Many homes and businesses have been damaged, and people have been evacuated from their homes. Meanwhile, Spanish authorities evacuated at least 800 people from the town of Gandia after a wildfire broke out and spread quickly due to strong winds as Ciaran smashed into western Europe.
128 dead as strong quake rocks Nepal
At least 128 people died and dozens more were injured as northwestern Nepal districts shook in a strong earthquake just before midnight, officials said Saturday. Authorities said the death toll was expected to rise as communications were cut off with many places. As day broke, rescue helicopters flew into the region to help out and also flew in medical workers and medicines to the hospitals ther. Security forces on the ground were digging out the injured and dead from the rubble. Troops were also clearing roads and mountain trails that were blocked by landslides triggered by the earthquake.
Pope orders trial of Slovenian Jesuit artist for nun abuse
Pope Francis on Friday ordered a trial against a Slovenian former Jesuit priest, mosaic artist, and theologian for alleged sexual abuse of nuns. Complaints about Father Marko Rupnik were made in 2021 but the alleged offences were initially judged to have been timed out and covered by the statute of limitations, the Vatican’s sex abuse department, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, said last December. Rupnik, 68, was ejected by the Jesuits in June. The Slovenian cleric is one of the best known mosaic artists in the religious world. Among the churches he has decorated around the world is the monument outside the Ta’ Pinu national shrine in Gozo. One TripAdvisor reviewer wrote: “Take the time to see the mosaics outside the church as the detail is something to admire.”
Tensions spike ahead of Copa Libertadores final
Tensions remained high Friday in Rio de Janeiro on the eve of the Copa Libertadores soccer final, following a brawl between fan clubs and a fierce police response on the Copacabana beach the previous day. Thousands of Argentines poured into Rio ahead of the game between Brazil’s Fluminense and Argentina’s Boca Juniors, due later today (Kick-off time 9 pm Malta time) at Rio’s Maracana stadium. A mob swept across Copacabana beach and fighting broke out between fans of the two teams, sending hundreds of others stampeding away from the commotion. Police said seven Argentines and two Brazilians were arrested.
Main photo credit: Saeed Jaras/APA Images/Shutterstock