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Israel-Hamas war live: Babies evacuated from Gaza to Egypt

Published November 20, 2023last updated November 21, 2023

The Palestinian Red Crescent has said 28 premature babies evacuated from al-Shifa hospital have been taken to Egypt for treatment. Meanwhile, a strike was reported at the Indonesian Hospital in Gaza. Follow DW.

Premature babies, who were evacuated from al-Shifa hospital, lie in an ambulance before they are transported, wrapped in blue blankets
Premature babies seen at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt waiting for transport Image: Hatem Khaled/REUTERS
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • Premature babies evacuated from Gaza are receiving treatment in Egypt, according to Palestinian Red Crescent
  • Strikes reported at Gaza's Indonesian Hospital 
  • Israel says it has located a Hamas tunnel at al-Shifa hospital
  • Joe Biden say hostage deal is close
Skip next section Premature babies from Gaza arrive in Egypt
November 21, 2023

Premature babies from Gaza arrive in Egypt

A group of premature babies evacuated from Gaza's besieged al-Shifa hospital was taken to Egypt for urgent medical care.

Premature babies from Gaza arrive in Egypt

Skip next section Gaza should be run by 'international force,' former Israeli PM Olmert tells DW
November 21, 2023

Gaza should be run by 'international force,' former Israeli PM Olmert tells DW

After the war ends and Hamas is no longer in control of the Gaza Strip, the enclave must be given over to a "European international military force" when Israel pulls out, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.

Speaking to DW on Monday, Olmert stressed that "no Arab, no Palestinian will ever take over from Israel," arguing that an international force would be ideal.

"So if we don't want terror to immediately return back into Gaza, we have — for a period of a year, a year and a half — to have an international intervention force."

Olmert said that the international community would not accept Israel taking over the strip after rooting out Hamas.

"We have to declare that at the end of the military battle, we will pull out from Gaza. We don't want to occupy Gaza. It's not in our interest. We don't want to be there. We want to destroy Hamas and move back to the international border," he said.

He also said working toward the creation of a Palestinian state was crucial. 

"At the same time, and this is perhaps the most critical and important thing the Israeli government has to declare today and make a public commitment that at the end of the military battle, we will immediately embark on negotiations for peace based on the creation of a Palestinian state in both the West Bank and Gaza."

Skip next section Babies rescued from al-Shifa in 'very critical' condition, WHO official tells DW
November 20, 2023

Babies rescued from al-Shifa in 'very critical' condition, WHO official tells DW

A United Nations mission to evacuate 28 premature babies from Gaza's al-Shifa hospital to Egypt on Monday was "risky," given the critical situation in the hospital, said World Health Organization Regional Director Ahmed Al-Mandhari.

Speaking to DW, Al-Mandhari said the "lack of basic healthcare facilities" meant an even bigger risk of life to the babies "if we didn't move them." He added that the status of all 28 babies was "very critical."

Al-Mandhari said the WHO was able to take four mothers into Egypt with their babies and that the Red Crescent was "working hard to identify or to approach the parents ... of the rest of the babies."

Al-Mandhari addressed the Indonesian Hospital, which is also in the northern Gaza Strip, saying it was "almost non-functioning" due to the "lack of fuel and medical supplies."

Asked on whether the WHO's teams at the Indonesian Hospital had noticed any Hamas activity, Al-Mandhari said: "According to the information we are receiving from the teams there on the ground … they do not see any sort of military operations by Hamas."

The hospital "is full of patients, staff, relatives of the patients and displaced people," he stressed.

Skip next section Relatives of Gaza hostages want Israeli politicians to stop talk of executing captured Hamas militants
November 20, 2023

Relatives of Gaza hostages want Israeli politicians to stop talk of executing captured Hamas militants

Relatives of some of the 240 people held by Hamas militants in Gaza have urged Israeli politicians not to demand capital punishment for captured Palestinian militants, saying that even talk of doing so might endanger the hostages.

A number of suspected Hamas terrorists were detained after the cross-border attack into Israel on October 7. Israel's Justice Ministry said earlier this month that "punishments befitting the severity of the horrors committed" would be issued for those convicted.

Far-right politicians such as National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir have called for the death penalty, which is dormant on Israel's lawbooks. However, some of the relatives of Israelis being held hostage have urged their government to tone down the rhetoric, as hopes grow of a deal to bring some of them home.

"It would mean playing along with their [Hamas'] mind games," Yarden Gonen, whose sister is among the hostages, told Ben-Gvir and his party colleagues during a parliamentary panel.

"In return we would get pictures of our loves ones murdered, with the State of Israel and not [Hamas] being blamed for it. Don't pursue this until after they are back here. Don't put my sister's blood on your hands."

Israeli military courts, which often handle cases involving Palestinians, have the power to hand down the death penalty by a unanimous decision of three judges, although this has never been implemented. The only court-ordered execution in Israeli history was of convicted Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in 1962.

Despite that, Linor Dan-Calderon, three of whose relatives are hostages, said: "We are a nation that pursues life, not one that pursues revenge. I am simply asking you to drop this from the agenda."

Qatar PM: Hamas hostage deal close

Skip next section 'Unparalleled and unprecedented killing of civilians' – UN's Guterres
November 20, 2023

'Unparalleled and unprecedented killing of civilians' – UN's Guterres

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has strongly denounced the killing of civilians and especially children as Israel continues to retaliate for the October 7 terror attacks by Hamas militants.

"Without entering into a discussion over the accuracy of the numbers that were published by authorities in Gaza, what is clear is that we have had thousands of children killed in a few weeks," Guterres told reporters.

"We are witnessing a killing of civilians that is unparalleled and unprecedented in any conflict since I [have been] Secretary-General."

As for a solution to the conflict, Guterres said a form of UN protectorate would not solve the problem and called instead for a "transition period" in which Arab nations support a strengthened Palestinian Authority in Gaza while the United States guarantee Israel's security.

"Everybody needs to come together to create the conditions for the transition," he said, saying that it is "important to be able to transform this tragedy into an opportunity " which, for him, means moving "in a determined and irreversible way to a two-state solution."

Skip next section Spanish, Belgian PMs to visit Israel, Palestinian Territories
November 20, 2023

Spanish, Belgian PMs to visit Israel, Palestinian Territories

Newly-reelected Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez will travel to Israel and the Palestinian Territories on Thursday, his office said in a statement on Monday.

Spain currently holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, which it will hand over to Belgium in January. As such, Sanchez will be accompanied by his Belgian counterpart Alexander de Croo.

Both leaders are set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's President Isaac Herzog and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Sanchez has insisted that Spain supports Israel's right to defend itself, but has called for restraint and for civilians in Gaza to be protected.

"Let there be no doubt, we stand with Israel and its response to the terrorist attack that this country suffered in October," the Socialist premier said last week before calling for the "immediate release" of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas.

"But with the same clarity we reject the indiscriminate killing of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank," he said. "We demand an immediate cease-fire on the part of Israel in Gaza and strict compliance with international humanitarian law, which today is clearly not respected."

Skip next section Biden: Gaza hostage deal is close
November 20, 2023

Biden: Gaza hostage deal is close

US President Joe Biden said on Monday he believes a deal to secure the release of Israeli hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza is near.

When asked during a Thanksgiving turkey pardoning ceremony at the White House whether a deal was close, he crossed his fingers and said "I believe so."

About 240 hostages were taken during Hamas' terrorist attack on October 7, which prompted Israel to invade the Palestinian territory to wipe out the Islamist militant group.

Since then, Gaza's Hamas-run government said at least 13,000 Palestinians have been killed, including at least 5,500 children, by Israeli bombardment.

Last week, it was reported that Qatari mediators had been seeking a deal between Israel and Hamas to exchange 50 hostages in return for a three-day cease-fire that would help boost emergency aid shipments to Gaza civilians.

Skip next section Israeli ships 'legitimate target,' Yemen's Houthi rebels warn
November 20, 2023

Israeli ships 'legitimate target,' Yemen's Houthi rebels warn

Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have warned that Israeli ships are "legitimate targets" after seizing an Israel-linked cargo vessel in the Red Sea on Sunday.

"We will not hesitate to take action," Houthi Major General Ali Al-Moshki told the group's Al-Massirah TV station, declaring the rebels part of the "axis of resistance" of Iran's allies and proxies.

The Bahamas-flagged, British-owned vessel "Galaxy Leader" is operated by a Japanese firm but has links to Israeli businessman Abraham "Rami" Ungar. According to Israeli officials, the crew includes Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Filipinos, Mexicans and a Romanian.

The vessel was headed from Turkey to India, but the Houthis said the capture was in retaliation for Israel's war against Hamas and re-routed it to the Yemeni port of Salif.

Given that the Yemeni coastline overlooks the Bab al-Mandab Strait, a narrow pass which is one of the world's busiest shipping lanes and carries about a fifth of global oil consumption, further naval aggression could have global repercussions.

"The threat of disruption to shipping in the wider region is likely to rise," Torbjorn Soltvedt of the risk intelligence firm Verisk Maplecroft told French news agency AFP.

"If security concerns compel shipping companies to avoid the Bab al-Mandab Strait, the result will be significantly higher costs due to the lack of alternative routes."

Mohammed al-Basha, senior Middle East analyst for the US-based Navanti Group said the failure of Houthi missile and drone launches to hit targets inside Israel "might have influenced the decision to refocus on the Red Sea arena."

Skip next section 6,700 foreigners evacuated to Egypt; almost 200 arrive in Turkey
November 20, 2023

6,700 foreigners evacuated to Egypt; almost 200 arrive in Turkey

Approximately 6,700 foreigners and Palestinians with dual nationality have been evacuated from the Gaza Strip to Egypt, authorities in Cairo said on Monday.

At the start of November, the Egyptian foreign ministry estimated that there were 7,000 foreigners from 60 countries in the Gaza Strip. However, it's unclear whether this referred strictly to foreigners with single nationality or included Palestinians with a second passport.

Three weeks ago, hundreds of foreigners began leaving the Gaza Strip under an Israel-Hamas deal brokered by Qatar and the United States.

Meanwhile, almost 200 Gaza evacuees, mainly medical patients, have traveled onwards to Turkey. Health Minister Fahrettin Koca met with 61 of them who arrived in Ankara on Monday afternoon.

"In terms of protecting human dignity, I think the steps we have taken provide a contribution, though very small," Koca told reporters at Esenboga airport. The priority for evacuations was now Gazan children, babies, and wounded civilians, he added.

Koca said last week that Turkey wanted to bring back as many as possible of nearly 1,000 cancer patients from Gaza — most of whom are former patients of a Turkish-Palestinian hospital that shut down due to Israeli attacks.

Skip next section Israel's finance minister calls for hardliners in war Cabinet
November 20, 2023

Israel's finance minister calls for hardliners in war Cabinet

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has called for more hardline Israeli lawmakers to be included in decisions about the war.

The far-right politician has so far been excluded from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's war Cabinet.

Netanyahu's ruling coalition does include parties from Israel's far right, but he has been managing the war with a small group of ministers from his right-wing Likud party and a centrist opposition group.

Smotrich and other hardline members of the broader Cabinet have been excluded from much of the decision making, and were particularly critical of a decision last week to acquiesce to a US request to allow some fuel into Gaza for humanitarian reasons.

Smotrich argued that this gave the militant group Hamas a lifeline, saying: "I think this grave mistake necessitates the expansion of the war Cabinet" to include "opinions that until today have not been heard." 

Netanyahu's office has declined to comment.

Skip next section African Union chief calls Israeli response to Hamas terror attacks 'inexcusable'
November 20, 2023

African Union chief calls Israeli response to Hamas terror attacks 'inexcusable'

The chairman of the African Union, Azali Assoumani, has criticized Israel's response to the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7, warning its severity could encourage further radicalization. 

"The acts [of Hamas] are reprehensible ... but the response is inexcusable," Assoumani told a press conference at the G20's "Compact with Africa" investment conference in Berlin on Monday.

"Imagine a child who has seen his mother, who has seen his father killed ... it creates extremism," he said.

Assoumani renewed calls for a two-state solution, saying: "There will only be peace if there are two states."

Skip next section Putin and Xi to attend emergency BRICS summit
November 20, 2023

Putin and Xi to attend emergency BRICS summit

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will take part in a virtual extraordinary BRICS summit on Tuesday to discuss the Israel-Hamas conflict.

The participation of the two leaders was confirmed by the Kremlin and by Chinese state media CCTV respectively. 

The other nations which will take part are Brazil, India and South Africa, completing the influential bloc of emerging world economies.

The virtual meeting will be chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who said that United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres would also take part.

Russia has historically maintained close ties with both Israel and the Palestinians. Putin has said Russia could play a mediating role. He has criticized the West for allegedly stoking tensions in the region and Israel for its conduct in the conflict.

Skip next section Jordanian field hospital arrives in Gaza
November 20, 2023

Jordanian field hospital arrives in Gaza

A Jordanian field hospital arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday, the first such facility to do so since the outbreak of war between Israel and Hamas following the October 7 terror attacks.

The field hospital, which will be established in the southern city of Khan Younis, has a 41-bed capacity and is accompanied by 170 medical personnel and 40 trucks of medical aid.

The head of Gaza's crossings authority, Hisham Adwan, said six ambulances from Kuwait also entered the territory on Monday. Palestinian medics hope field hospitals sent by the United Arab Emirates and Qatar will soon follow.

However, all goods and individuals entering Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt are subject to Israeli approval.

Weeks of intense bombardment and acute shortages of fuel and medical supplies have prompted the collapse of Gaza's health system, with the majority of hospitals no longer functioning.

The Hamas-run government in the territory said on Sunday that 13,000 people, mostly civilians, had been killed, with a further 30,000 wounded. A health ministry spokesman described the situation in the north of the strip as "catastrophic" and that the "sick and wounded are dying from lack of care."

The current violence broke out when Hamas militants attacked southern Israel, killing about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, while around 240 were taken hostage, according to Israeli officials.

Weeks without rest at the Nasser Hospital in Gaza

Skip next section Babies from al-Shifa Hospital taken to Egypt for treatment
November 20, 2023

Babies from al-Shifa Hospital taken to Egypt for treatment

A nurse cares for prematurely born Palestinian babies that were brought from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City to the hospital in Rafah
The babies were among a group of patients stranded at al-Shifa days after Israeli forces entered the hospitalImage: Hatem Ali/AP Photo/picture alliance

Twenty-eight premature babies evacuated from al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza were taken through the Rafah crossing on Monday to receive medical treatment in Egypt, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

The Egyptian Al-Qahera News channel broadcast footage showing each baby transferred into an incubator, then into an Egyptian ambulance. 

Over the weekend, a total of 31 infants were transferred from the hospital by the Red Crescent Society and UN aid agencies. 

Health officials said the babies were in "extremely critical condition" and were treated at the Emirates Hospital in Rafah on Sunday, before they were taken to the border on Monday.

The BBC has reported that three premature babies out of the 31 who were evacuated from al-Shifa hospital were not taken to Egypt from Gaza.

The British broadcaster quoted a doctor from Gaza's al-Ahli hospital, to which the babies were initially evacuated, as saying that one of the babies was "unidentified."

The parents of the other two babies refused their relocation to Egypt "due to personal circumstances," according to the BBC report.

Gaza: Premature babies evacuated from al-Shifa hospital

Skip next section 20,000 people flee north Gaza for south — OCHA
November 20, 2023

20,000 people flee north Gaza for south — OCHA

The United Nations humanitarian agency, known as OCHA, said around 20,000 people fled northern Gaza on Sunday amid ongoing fighting between Hamas militants and Israeli troops.

"OCHA's monitoring team estimates that about 20,000 people moved during the day, most of whom arrived at Wadi Gaza by donkey carts or buses, and some on foot," it said in an update on the situation in Gaza.  

Wadi Gaza is a wetland located in the middle part of the Gaza Strip. 

Israel has been allowing humanitarian pauses at specific times for residents to relocate south.

OCHA said people use the "corridor" along the main traffic artery, Salah al-Din Road, between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time (0900 and 1400 UTC).

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