Jerusalem – Fighting raged in the Gaza Strip on Friday, nearly six weeks after an unprecedented attack by Hamas sparked retaliatory bombing and a ground offensive by Israel, which vows to destroy the Palestinian militant group.
About 1 200 people, mostly civilians, were killed in Israel during the October 7 attack and around 240 taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.
In Gaza, about 11 500 people, also mostly civilians, have been killed, officials in the Hamas-run territory have said.
Here are five key developments from the past 24 hours:
Israeli troops carried out building-by-building searches at Gaza’s main hospital on Friday, after a communications blackout in the Palestinian territory compounded fears for civilians trapped inside the facility.
Al-Shifa hospital has become a focal point for Israeli operations in northern Gaza since soldiers raided the complex on Wednesday, hunting for a command centre they say militant group Hamas operates at the site.
Hamas and hospital managers deny that charge, and there has been international concern about thousands of people including wounded patients and premature babies believed to be inside.
Militants killed in West Bank
The Israeli army said Friday it killed at least five militants in Jenin, in the occupied West Bank, as Hamas admitted a number of its fighters were killed in the overnight raid.
Since the Hamas attacks on southern Israel, there has been a dramatic rise in violence in the West Bank, where the Israeli army has stepped up incursions targeting militant groups.
Israeli forces carried out an operation overnight Thursday-Friday in a refugee camp in Jenin, a city in the northern West Bank long considered a centre of militant activity.
“An armed terrorist cell that fired at Israeli security forces was struck by a (military) aircraft,” a statement said.
“Terrorists who fired and hurled explosive devices at the security forces were neutralised,” it added. “In total, at least five terrorists were killed.”
Hamas, an Islamist movement with an armed wing, said three of its fighters were killed.
Soldier’s remains recovered
Israel’s army said Friday it had recovered the remains of a woman soldier held hostage by Hamas militants, after the military announced her death earlier in the week.
“The body of the soldier Noa Marciano… has been extracted” by fellow troops “from a structure adjacent to Al-Shifa hospital” in Gaza, an army statement said.
It had earlier confirmed the death of Marciano, 19, who Hamas militants said had been killed in an Israeli bombardment
Pro-Iran fighters killed
Israeli air strikes killed two pro-Iran fighters near the Syrian capital Damascus early on Friday during raids targeting an arms depot of Hamas-allied militant group Hezbollah, and other sites near the city, a war monitor said.
Israel has hit targets in Syria several times in recent weeks as regional tensions rise over the Israel-Hamas war.
Citing a military source, Syria’s state news agency SANA reported “material damage” from the strikes. The military source did not provide details about the targets but added that Syria’s air defence intercepted some of the Israeli missiles.
Biden’s ‘vision for peace’ sought
US President Joe Biden should embrace a “historic opportunity” and deliver a peace plan between warring Israelis and Palestinians, but it must be a lasting political solution that “undermines extremists” on both sides, a group of independent global leaders said Thursday.
The leaders, known as The Elders, are chaired by former Irish president Mary Robinson and include onetime United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon. They called on Biden in an open letter to offer “a vision for peace”.
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