Israel pounded targets in the southern Gaza Strip on Saturday and ordered more neighbourhoods designated for attack to evacuate, driving up the death toll as the United States and others urged it to do more to protect civilians a day after a truce collapsed. CBS News was told by Israeli officials that part of the reason the fighting resumed was a terrorist attack that killed four in Jerusalem on Thursday. Many of Israel’s attacks Saturday were focused on the Khan Younis area in southern Gaza, where the military said it had struck more than 50 Hamas targets with airstrikes, tank fire, and its navy. Israeli forces said that they have struck more than 400 targets overall since fighting resumed in Gaza on Friday. Hamas said yesterday’s attacks hit mosques, residential homes, and an area close to a hospital.
At least 100 Palestinians were killed by Israeli air strikes on the Jabalia refugee camp in the north of the Strip on Saturday. Rescuers used their bare hands to dig through rubble in search of survivors. Gazan authorities said at least 240 people have been killed in the camp since the bombings resumed early on Friday.
About 200 Palestinians have been killed and 650 wounded since the fighting resumed Friday morning, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza, even as the US urged Israel to do everything possible to protect civilians. Separately, the health ministry said the overall death toll in Gaza since the 7th October start of the war had surpassed 15,200 – a sharp jump from the previous count of more than 13,300 on 20th November. The ministry does not differentiate between civilian and combatant deaths, but it said 70 per cent of the dead were women and children. It said more than 40,000 people had been wounded since the war began.
The prospect of further ceasefires in Gaza appeared bleak, as Israel recalled its negotiators and Hamas’ deputy leader said any further swap of Gaza-held hostages for Palestinians imprisoned by Israel would only happen as part of ending the war. “We will continue the war until we achieve all its goals, and it’s impossible to achieve those goals without the ground operation,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in an address Saturday night. In a news conference later, Netanyahu declared the Israeli hostages in Gaza were “prisoners of the Devil”. He said, “As the testimonies of those who have returned accumulate, it is understood that they have lived through hellish experiences. In a different way, but still hellish. Hunger. Violence. Uncertainty”. Netanyahu added that he asked himself, referring to Hamas leader Yihya Sinwar, “How do you negotiate with the devil?”
The renewed hostilities have heightened concerns for 136 Israeli hostages who, according to the Israeli military, are still held by Hamas and other militants. Netanyahu’s office accused Hamas of not fulfilling its side of an agreement to extend the truce in Gaza. The deal had included the release of all women and children held in Gaza in accordance with a list conveyed to Hamas. “What we have left of Israeli prisoners are soldiers and civilians serving in the army,” deputy head of the group, Saleh al-Arouri, told Al Jazeera, adding that Hamas was ready to exchanges the “bodies of dead Israelis in exchange for our own martyrs, but we need time to exhume these bodies”. He said: “The Israeli occupation insists that we are still holding women and children but we have already released them all.” Reporting from Doha, Al Jazeera’s Ali Hashem said the Israelis were demanding Hamas release all women soldiers.
3 killed in Catholic mass explosion in the Philippines
Three people were killed and nine injured in an explosion at a Catholic mass in the Philippines. According to the BBC, the attack occurred this morning in a gymnasium at the Mindanao State University, in the city of Marawi. The university’s management said it was “deeply saddened and appalled” by the “senseless and horrific” violence. Additional security personnel have been deployed on campus and all academic activities will remain suspended until further notice. In 2017, the city was the scene of a five-month battle between government forces and Islamic State-linked militants.
Tsunami warnings lifted in the Philippines
The Philippines lifted a tsunami alert early on Sunday after an earthquake of at least magnitude 7.5 struck the southern region of Mindanao, triggering evacuations in the country and in Japan. There were no initial reports of casualties or serious damage from the quake in the Mindanao region, although some residents reported damage to buildings in the area, which is less populated than some parts of the archipelago. More than 500 aftershocks were recorded, and precaution was urged as people resumed normal activities.
9 dead in armed attack on Peru gold mine
Nine people have been killed in an attack on a gold mine in Peru. The country’s Interior Ministry said armed men entered a cave in the province of Pata, attacked the security forces of the Poderosa mining company, took four hostages and detonated explosives. Fifteen people were injured and seven others were arrested. According to local media reports, the attackers are suspected of being linked to the phenomenon of illegal mining. The prefect of the La Libertad region, Carolina Velasco, told the newspaper La República that they are suspected to be contract killers, hired to react to the authorities’ crackdown on illegal gold mining.
‘Guard the vote’ in Democratic-run cities, Trump tells supporters
Donald Trump, the frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, told his supporters on Saturday to “go into” Philadelphia and two other Democratic-run cities to “guard the vote” in 2024, repeating his unfounded claims of widespread election fraud in 2020 as justification for the call to action. Reuters reports that, speaking at a campaign event in Iowa, Trump said it was important to scrutinise the vote in the battleground states likely to determine the general election. Speaking in Ankeny, he singled out the biggest cities in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Georgia. “So the most important part of what’s coming up is to guard the vote. And you should go into Detroit and you should go into Philadelphia and you should go into Atlanta.” Trump’s comments foreshadow what is likely to be a contentious election in November 2024. Despite the failure of dozens of lawsuits filed by Trump and his allies challenging the outcome in 2020, Trump continues to claim, without evidence, that he lost to US President Joe Biden due to fraud.
1 dead, 2 injured in Paris attack
One person was killed and two others were injured after a man attacked tourists near the Eiffel Tower in central Paris, Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said on Saturday. Police quickly arrested the 26-year-old man, a French national, using a Taser stun gun, Darmanin told reporters. The suspect had been sentenced to four years in prison in 2016 for planning another attack and was on the French security services’ watch list. He was also known for having psychiatric disorders, the interior minister added. The suspect had shouted out “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and told police he was upset because “so many Muslims are dying in Afghanistan and in Palestine” and was also upset about the Gaza situation, Darmanin said.
Palace staff receives new orders after ‘Endgame’
King Charles, Prince William, Kate Middleton, and other members of the British Royal Family have not yet reacted to Omid Scobie’s bombshell claims in his book Endgame. The staff at Buckingham Palace and Kensington Palace have also been ordered not to fuel the fire over the book, according to a report by Daily Express. Scobie, royal expert and alleged friend of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, have made startling revelations in his book, released earlier this week. While Scobie has denied including names of any senior royal in the book, Piers Morgan, during his talk show, dropped the monikers of the royals, who allegedly speculated about the colour of the then-unborn Prince Archie, to be King Charles and Princess Kate. According to “Us Weekly”, Kate, the Princess of Wales, is “saddened” to learn that the Dutch translation of Scobie’s book named her as one of the “racist royals” who had concerns about the skin colour of Prince Archie, before his birth. “She is saddened that her name got pulled into this because she had nothing to do with it,” the source told the publication. Quoting The Daily Mail, Radar Online revealed that King Charles and Kate Middleton are reportedly “considering” taking legal action after Piers Morgan’s revelations. It is reported that the Royal family would hit back with a legal fight.
Football: Germany to face Scotland in EURO 2024 opener
Germany will open their Euro 2024 campaign against Scotland at the Allianz Arena in Munich on 14th June. The hosts were also placed in the same group as Hungary and Switzerland during the draw, which took place in Hamburg. European champions Italy were drawn in a group against 2008 and 2012 winners Spain, World Cup semi-finalists Croatia, and Albania. Group C consists of Slovenia, Denmark, Serbia, and England. Group D also looks challenging, with World Cup runners-up France placed alongside the Netherlands, Austria, and one of four potential playoff winners between Wales, Finland, Poland, and Estonia. Group E consists of Belgium, Slovakia, Romania, and the play-off winners of Group B, while Group F sees Turkey, Portugal, Czechia, and th play-off winner of Group C. The tournament will be played from 14th June through 14th July across 10 cities and will be Germany’s first time hosting the tournament since reunification in 1990. Germany beat Turkey to the hosting rights of the next European Championship and have selected 10 of the finest stadia in Europe to host the 51 matches in Berlin, Cologne, Dortmund, Dusseldorf, Frankfurt, Gelsenkirchen, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich, and Stuttgart.
Main photo: Fatima Shbair/AP