Hospital under siege: “The head of Hamas is down there”

This morning's top world news, in a nutshell - Saturday, 11th November 2023

Shifa hospital, the largest in the Gaza Strip, lying in the centre of Gaza City, is under siege. Ansa reports the Israeli soldiers have surrounded the structure under which they believe the head of Hamas in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, is hiding, having long disappeared from circulation and being hunted by Israel, which considers him the number one person responsible for the massacres of 7th October. According to Israeli intelligence, Sinwar is hiding under the hospital surface,from where he directs all operations and where he would cram 500,000 litres of fuel. These accusations have again been rejected by Hamas which, instead, speak of a normal hospital, currently full of displaced people arriving from the north of the Palestinian enclave. “It is an absolute lie that the Hamas command centre is hidden under the hospital,” said the director of the health facility, Muhammad Abu Salmiya, denouncing that an Israeli raid this morning damaged the hospital’s outpatient clinic. Hamas reported that 13 “martyrs” died in the attack and dozens were injured, including women and children.

Gaza hospitals ‘surrounded by tanks’

Israeli tanks have surrounded a Gaza hospital, its director told CNN. Mustafa al-Kahlout, who heads the Al Nasr hospital and Al Rantisi Pediatric hospital in northern Gaza, told CNN that they were surrounded and asked for the Red Cross to assist with an evacuation. “We are completely surrounded, there are tanks outside the hospital, and we cannot leave,” al-Kahlout said. “We do not have electricity, no oxygen for the patients, we do not have medicine and water,” al-Kahlout said. “We do not know our fate.”

Photo credit: Israeli Defence Forces

‘Unimaginable conditions’ in Gaza hospitals – WHO chief

The health care system in the Gaza Strip is “on its knees”, the head of the World Health Organisation (WHO) told the UN Security Council. WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus said the “situation on the ground was impossible to describe: Hospital corridors crammed with the injured, the sick, the dying, morgues overflowing, surgery without anesthesia, tens of thousands of displaced people sheltering at hospitals, families crammed into overcrowded schools, desperate for food and water”. Tedros was speaking at another emergency session of the UN Security Council. Janet Soeript, President and CEO of the Save the Children Fund US, says in Gaza one child is being killed every 10 minutes. At least 4,104 children have been killed in the ongoing conflict as of 6th November, resulting in more children killed in Gaza in one month than in any other conflict annually since 2019. Meanwhile, Israel has revised down the death toll from the Hamas terror attacks in southern Israel from 1,400 to about 1,200, AFP reported citing a foreign ministry spokesman.

Photo credit: UN/Eskinder Debebe

Saudis to host extraordinary joint Islamic-Arab summit

An extraordinary Arab-Islamic summit is set to take place in Riyadh later today, Saturday, the Saudi Foreign Ministry announced. Saudi Gazette says the decision comes after Saudi Arabia consulted with the Arab League and the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation. The statement noted that, due to the exceptional circumstances in Gaza, the Kingdom had decided to convene an extraordinary Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh, replacing the previously planned two summits. It said “unprecedented developments in Gaza and the Palestinian territories” necessitate Arab and Islamic unity.

Photo credit: Royal Court of Saudi Arabia/Anadolu Agency

Macron urges Israel to stop bombing Gaza

French President Emmanuel Macron told the BBC Israel must stop bombing Gaza and killing civilians. In an interview aired late on Friday, the French leader said France “clearly condemns” the “terrorist” actions of Hamas, but that, while recognising Israel’s right to protect itself, “we do urge them to stop this bombing” in Gaza. “These babies, these ladies, these old people, are bombed and killed. So there is no reason for that and no legitimacy. So we do urge Israel to stop.” Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has responded to Macron’s call for Israel to stop the bombing in Gaza, saying the responsibility for civilian deaths lied with Hamas. Israel is facing mounting global pressure, including from its main ally, the US, to protect Palestinian civilians in Gaza as the death toll rose and fighting intensified between Israeli forces and Hamas terrorists near and around hospitals.

Photo credit: BBC

Biden, Xi to meet in California next week

US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are planning to hold talks in California on Wednesday, the White House announced. The meeting will take place on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit being held in San Francisco. The Washington Post notes the two leaders have not met since the G20 summit last year. The talks come amid efforts to boost US-China relations that have taken a hit in recent years.

NATO chief warns Ukraine war may be a ‘long haul’

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg says Ukraine’s allies must accept that Ukraine’s war against Russia might take longer than they had been hoped. The conflict is concentrated in the south and east of the country, where Russia had prepared its defensive lines for months ahead of Kyiv’s counter-offensive this year. Stoltenberg said Ukraine would still need support to remain a sovereign state and end the Russian invasion. Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited a military command center in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don.

Beatles’ chart-topping ‘Now And Then’ breaks records

The Beatles returned to the top of the UK music charts Friday, with the record-breaking track “Now And Then”, making history as the act with the longest gap between its first and last No. 1 single, Reuters reports. Billed as the last Beatles song, “Now And Then” features the voice of late member John Lennon and was developed using artificial intelligence. It also features parts recorded by surviving members Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr as well as the late George Harrison. The group’s 18th UK No. 1 hit, it brings The Beatles back to the top of the Official Singles Chart 60 years after the group’s first No. 1 single “From Me to You”. The feat also extends The Beatles’ record as the British act with the most UK No. 1 singles in Official Charts history. The song is the fastest-selling single of the year to date in Britain with 48,600 physical and download sales based on the its first seven days, the Official Charts Company said. It is also the fastest-selling vinyl single of the century so far in Britain with more than 19,400 copies sold on vinyl, and the most-streamed Beatles track in one week, with 5.03 million streams, it added. The group is also the act with the longest gap between No. 1 singles – 54 years – and the oldest band to score a UK No. 1 single, the Official Charts Company said.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Main photo credit: Ariel Hermony/Israeli Defence Ministry

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