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Israel-Hamas war: Netanyahu rejects calls for cease-fire

Published November 3, 2023last updated November 4, 2023

The US has urged humanitarian "pauses" to allow aid into Gaza. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel refuses any cease-fire that doesn't involve the release of hostages. DW has more.

Smoke rises over Gaza City during Israeli airstrikes on November 2
The UN has been leading calls for a pause in fighting to allow aid deliveries for Gaza civiliansImage: Abed Khaled/AP Photo/picture alliance
Skip next section What you need to know

What you need to know

  • US Secretary of State Blinken urges humanitarian "pauses" during talks with Israeli leaders
  • Israeli forces say they have "completed" encircling Gaza City
  • Over 30 German nationals leave Gaza on Friday, Foreign Ministry says
  • Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah warns of wider conflict if Gaza assault continues

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Skip next section Honduras recalls Israel envoy
November 4, 2023

Honduras recalls Israel envoy

Honduras became the latest Latin American country to recall its ambassador to Israel on Friday amid concerns over the "humanitarian situation" of Palestinians in Gaza.

"In the face of the serious humanitarian situation suffered by the Palestinian civilian population in the Gaza Strip" President Xiomara Castro had decided to immediately recall envoy Roberto Martinez "for consultations," Honduran Foreign Minister Enrique Reina said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Tegucigalpa's move comes after similar actions from the governments in Bolivia, Chile and Colombia following the rising civilian casualty numbers in Israel's military action against the terrorist group Hamas.

Honduras' decision aims to highlight the plight of Gaza's civilians caught in the war, Reina told the Associated Press, and supports a UN call for a ceasefire.

"It is a position to say, in a way, that the situation of the innocent population concerns us," Reina said.

Despite the recall, Honduras maintains stable relations with Israel, keeping its embassy operational, the minister said.

Skip next section 3,000 pro-Palestinian protesters gather in Essen
November 4, 2023

3,000 pro-Palestinian protesters gather in Essen

Pro-Palestinian demonstration in Essen
Thousands gathered in Essen to protest against the Israel's military operation in GazaImage: Christoph Reichwein/dpa/picture alliance

Some 3,000 people in the western German city of Essen protested against the ongoing Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip.

The pro-Palestinian demonstration had been planned in advance and was escorted by a heavy police presence.

"Gaza under attack — together against injustice" was the theme of the demonstration. People held signs denouncing Israel's bombardment of Gaza, the child casualties and Germany's support for Israel.

Police sources said the protest was peaceful and reported no incidents.

Skip next section More than 30 German nationals leave Gaza
November 3, 2023

More than 30 German nationals leave Gaza

Germany's Foreign Ministry has confirmed that more than 30 Germans left the Gaza Strip on Friday via the Rafah border crossing, adding that the German embassy in Cairo would handle their arrival.

The group included families with children, it said on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

The ministry said it was "working intensively to ensure that more Germans can leave." 

The Rafah border crossing was opened to people on Wednesday for the first time since the beginning of the war between Israel and Hamas, to allow for foreign nationals to leave Gaza. On the same day, the German government announced the departure of a "low single-digit number of German citizens."

Skip next section German footballer fired for pro-Palestinian post
November 3, 2023

German footballer fired for pro-Palestinian post

German Bundesliga football club Mainz said today it had terminated its contract with Anwar El Ghazi "with immediate effect," following pro-Palestinian posts he made on social media.

El Ghazi had been suspended by the Bundesliga after a series of posts just a week after the Hamas attack on Israel. On one of the posts, the Dutch footballer shared the phrase "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free."

The slogan has been interpreted by some as a call for the destruction of Israel, while others say it appeals for equality for Israelis and Palestinians.

Mainz FC said on Monday it had lifted the suspension and would give him a second chance, after El Ghazi spoke out against terrorism of all kind, including from Hamas, and also did not question Israel's right to exist.

Anwar El Ghazi
El Ghazi had been suspended after a series of posts just a week after the Hamas attack on IsraelImage: Pro Shots/IMAGO

But two days later, El Ghazi said in another social media post that "comments or apologies to the contrary attributed to me [after a previous post from October 27] are not factually correct and have not been made or authorised by me."

"I do not regret or have any remorse for my position. I do not distance myself from what I said and I stand, today and always until my last breath, for humanity and the oppressed," he added.

German prosecutors also said Friday that they have opened an investigation against El Ghazi over his social media posts, suspecting him of "disturbing public peace by condoning criminal acts in conjunction with incitement to hatred."

Skip next section Israel military confirms strike on Gaza ambulance
November 3, 2023

Israel military confirms strike on Gaza ambulance

The Israeli military has said one of its aircraft hit an ambulance in Gaza on Friday. Earlier, Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said an Israeli strike hit a convoy of ambulances near the Al-Shifa hospital, the territory's largest hospital.

In a statement, the ministry's spokesman said "a convoy of ambulances which was transporting the wounded" was hit as it was leaving the hospital in Gaza City towards Rafah in the south.

It said the blast killed multiple people. The Israeli military spokesperson claimed the ambulance hit was being used by Hamas militants. This claim could not be independently verified.

The World Health Organization has said the Al-Shifa hospital currently faces severe overcrowding, with a bed occupancy rate of 164%. 

Skip next section Hezbollah says regional war possible if Gaza assault continues
November 3, 2023

Hezbollah says regional war possible if Gaza assault continues

The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah group warned the US that the conflict could widen into a regional war if Israel did not stop its assault on Gaza.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also threatened the US, hinting that his Iran-backed paramilitary group was ready to confront US warships in the Mediterranean.

"We are ready for all possibilities," Nasrallah said in a televised speech. "Whoever wants to prevent a regional war, and I am talking to the Americans, must quickly halt the aggression on Gaza."

Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv, in an appearance that ran simultaneously as Nasrallah spoke, that the US is determined to prevent a second or third front in the conflict.

"With regard to Lebanon, with regard to Hezbollah, with regard to Iran, we have been very clear from the outset that we are determined that there not be a second or third front opened in this conflict," Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv.

But Nasrallah also alluded to some participation by Hezbollah in the conflict, saying "we have already joined the battle."

"Some might find what is happening on our front to be moderate," Nasrallah told his supporters. "But if you look at it objectively, you will find it to be important and very big."

"All possibilities on our Lebanese front are open and all options are on the table and we can go to them at any time," he warned.

For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in turn, delivered a warning to Hezbollah. "In the north I say again to our enemies: Don't make a mistake. A mistake will cost you dearly. A mistake will cost you a price you cannot even imagine," Netanyahu said.

Israel-Hezbollah clashes: Thousands flee southern Lebanon

Skip next section Netanyahu rules out cease-fire unless hostages freed
November 3, 2023

Netanyahu rules out cease-fire unless hostages freed

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that Israel has no intention of agreeing to a cease-fire 

"I made it clear that we will continue with all the force. We refuse any cease-fire that does not include the liberation of our hostages," Netanyahu said after meeting Blinken.

Israeli officials have estimated some 249 people were kidnapped in the October 7 attacks and are being held captive in Gaza.

The UN considers a humanitarian pause to be a "temporary cessation of hostilities" agreed upon by both parties to allow humanitarian aid to be distributed in a specific area for a specific time.

A cease-fire, on the other hand, is a suspension of fighting intended to be longer term and "typically as part of a political process," according to the UN. 

Netanyahu: 'We’re continuing with all our strength'

Skip next section Baerbock warns Hezbollah against escalation
November 3, 2023

Baerbock warns Hezbollah against escalation

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has warned the Lebanon-based Hezbollah group against a large-scale attack on Israel. 

Baerbock said Lebanon's people wanted to live in peace and did not want further escalation in the region.

"That is why it is so incredibly important that all actors work together to prevent a conflagration in the region," Baerbock said. 

The foreign minister spoke during a visit to the Armenian capital, Yerevan, just as Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah delivered a more than one-hour speech, during which he railed against Israel and the West.

Baerbock also called for the implementation of humanitarian pauses to supply the civilian population, an appeal the European Union has also made. 

"Humanitarian aid is an imperative of humanity. There must be humanitarian pauses and humanitarian corridors," she said. 

Baerbock meets families of Hamas hostages

Skip next section Blinken: 'we must do more' to protect Palestinian civilians
November 3, 2023

Blinken: 'we must do more' to protect Palestinian civilians

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog in Tel Aviv, reiterating that Israel has the right the defend itself, while highlighting the need to "substantially and immediately increase the sustainable humanitarian assistance" into Gaza.

"We stand strongly with an behind Israel and its right and obligation to defend itself," Blinken told a press conference Friday.

In the same vein, Blinken emphasized the protection of civilians in Gaza who are "caught in a crossfire of Hamas's making," stressing that "everything be done to protect them and to bring assistance to those who so desperately need it and who are not in any way responsible for what happened on October 7." 

Blinken calls for more protection for civilians

Blinken said the United States has stressed the importance of humanitarian pauses, adding that had been an topic of discussion with Israeli leaders in his meetings on Friday. 

The secretary of state added that the creation of a Palestinian state was essential to Israel's security. "Two states for two peoples. Again, that is the only way to ensure lasting security for a Jewish and democratic Israel," he said.

When asked about Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah's speech, Blinken reiterated that the US has been is determined there should not be a second or third front in the conflict.

"With regard to Lebanon, with regard to Hezbollah, with regard to Iran, we have been very clear from the outset that we are determined that there not be a second or third front opened in this conflict," Blinken told reporters in Tel Aviv.

"We are in a high state of readiness in the north, in a very high state of alert, to respond to any event today and in coming days," he added.

Skip next section Hezbollah leader says October 7 attacks 100% Palestinian
November 3, 2023

Hezbollah leader says October 7 attacks 100% Palestinian

The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, praised Hamas' October 7 attacks on Israel, but said his movement had not been involved in carrying it out. 

In a televised address, his first comments since the massacres and Israel's subsequent war against Hamas, Nasrallah claimed that "brothers from Hamas" had planned the attacks alone. 

Nasrallah said the attacks against Israel had been "100% Palestinian" and that "its owners hid it from everyone." However, Nasrallah added that the secrecy of the operation did not upset anyone in the regional "axis" against Israel.

Hezbollah leader: 'This battle is completely Palestinian'

Lebanon-based Hezbollah is backed by Iran and aligned with Hamas, as are Iranian-backed Shi'ite Muslim factions in Iraq and Yemen's Houthi movement.

"This battle is completely Palestinian, for Palestinian people, has no relation to any regional issue," said Nasrallah.

Nasrallah also thanked Iraqi and Yemeni groups for joining in the conflict with Israel, which Nasrallah said had spread to "more than one front."

Hezbollah is an Iran-backed Shiite political party and militant group in Lebanon. Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organization by the US, Germany, and several Sunni Arab countries. The EU lists its armed wing as a terrorist group.

Skip next section UN seeks $1.2 billion in aid for Gaza and West Bank
November 3, 2023

UN seeks $1.2 billion in aid for Gaza and West Bank

The United Nations has launched an emergency aid appeal to raise $1.2 billion (€1.1 billion) in aid for some 2.7 million people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.

"The cost of meeting the needs of 2.7 million people — that is the entire population of Gaza and 500,000 people in the occupied West Bank — is estimated to be $1.2 billion," the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said.

OCHA had previously called for $294 million in aid to help 1.3 million people in an appeal on October 12, adding that "the situation has grown increasingly desperate since then."

The organization said its new appeal "will outline the need for food, water, health care, shelter, hygiene and other urgent priorities following the massive bombardments in the Gaza Strip.

"We urge donors to promptly make resources available for the response," it added.

"Our ability to ease the suffering of the Palestinian population will depend on adequate funding; safe and sustained access to all people in need, wherever they are; sufficient flow of humanitarian supplies; and, importantly, fuel."

Meanwhile, the UN rights office said the situation in the West Bank was "alarming and urgent," amid violence between Israeli settlers and the Palestinian population.

"While much attention has been on the attacks inside Israel and the escalation of hostilities in Gaza since the 7th of October, the situation in the occupied West Bank, including east Jerusalem, is alarming and urgent," said Liz Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Life at a standstill in Gaza’s refugee camps

Skip next section Israel sending Palestinian workers back to Gaza — reports
November 3, 2023

Israel sending Palestinian workers back to Gaza — reports

Palestinians legally working in Israel at the time of the October 7 Hamas terror attacks were being sent back to Gaza, the Reuters and AFP news agencies reported Friday, citing journalists and a border official.

Reuters journalists reported that some workers from Gaza returned through the Kerem Shalom crossing situated east of the Rafah border crossing. Workers from the occupied West Bank were also sent to Gaza, according to witnesses cited by the news agency. 

The reports come after the office of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was cutting contact with the Palestinian territory.

"Israel is severing all contact with Gaza. There will be no more Palestinian workers from Gaza. Those workers from Gaza who were in Israel on the day of the outbreak of the war will be returned to Gaza," the prime minister's office posted on social media platform X, formerly Twitter.

The UN expressed concern over Israel sending thousands of Palestinian workers back to Gaza.

The workers may not have homes to return to and face grave dangers from ongoing military clashes in the territory, said UN human rights office spokeswoman Elizabeth Throssell.

"There are worrying reports that some are being sent back into Gaza, despite the gravity of the situation there," Throssell said. "We don't know exactly to where; it probably isn't clear whether they have got even a home to go to; and it's an incredibly difficult and dangerous situation."

Skip next section Thailand in talks with Iran as it pushes for release of hostages
November 3, 2023

Thailand in talks with Iran as it pushes for release of hostages

Thai Foreign Minister Parnpree Bahiddha-Nukara spoke with his Iranian counterpart over the fate of 23 Thai nationals held hostage by Hamas.

Parnpree traveled to Qatar and Egypt this week for talks on the hostages and met Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Doha.

"I pointed out to them that Thais working there are low-income people, and work in the agricultural sector to boost their income," Parnpree told reporters in Bangkok on Friday.

"I talked to the Iranian foreign minister and told him the Thais' work is unrelated to politics and conflict. I asked him to send a message to the Hamas group that they are just laborers," Parnpree said.

Hamas militants took at least 242 people hostage during the terror attacks in southern Israel on October 7. Fighters for the Islamist group also killed 1,400 people, mainly civilians, during its the attacks, including at least 32 Thai nationals..

The kingdom has evacuated more than 7,000 of its citizens on repatriation flights.

Thailand's Labor Ministry said around 30,000 Thai nationals work in Israel, mainly in the agricultural sector.

Skip next section Ireland's PM says Israel's actions akin to 'something approaching revenge'
November 3, 2023

Ireland's PM says Israel's actions akin to 'something approaching revenge'

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on Friday said that Israel's actions in Gaza were "something approaching revenge" in comments made to local broadcaster RTE.

"I strongly believe, like any state, Israel has the right to defend itself, has the right to go after Hamas, so that they cannot do this again," Varadkar said in comments broadcast by RTE.

"But what I'm seeing unfolding at the moment isn't just self defense. It resembles something more approaching revenge," Varadkar said, adding "that's not where we should be."

Varadkar's comments are some of the strongest criticism of Israel by an EU leader.

Gaza's health ministry in Gaza on Thursday said that more than 9,000 people had been killed in the besieged enclave since the war began.

The Hamas-run minister has not commented on how many Hamas fighters were among the dead.

Israel says 1,400 people, mostly citizens, were massacred during the terror attacks Hamas launched on October 7, and vowed to "destroy" the militant group.

Since then, Israel's military said it has been bombarding Hamas targets in Gaza. Its forces have encircled Gaza City as it seeks to root out the Islamist group.

Gaza: Airstrikes hit UN schools being used as shelter

Skip next section Hamas battalion commander 'eliminated' — Israeli military
November 3, 2023

Hamas battalion commander 'eliminated' — Israeli military

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Friday said its forces "eliminated a Hamas battalion commander during overnight operations in Gaza.

In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, the IDF said it killed Mustafa Dalul, who "directed combat against IDF forces and held key positions in Hamas' Gaza City Brigade."  

Israeli forces have been encircling Gaza City in the north of the Palestinian territory as they look to destroy Hamas.

The militant group is listed as a terrorist organization in the US, the EU and a number of other countries.

It launched a large-scale terror attack on southern Israel on October 7, during which Israel says over 1,400 people were killed.

Israeli ground troops and tanks around Gaza City have been engaged in close combat with Hamas militants.

Foreign press ban in Gaza stifles Israel-Hamas war coverage

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