Israel Latest: Netanyahu Says Gaza Hospital Hid Command Center

(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a Hamas command center was hidden under a Gaza City hospital raided by Israeli troops this week. Israel distributed photos and a brief video of what a spokesman said was a tunnel shaft at Shifa hospital, as pressure increased for the armed forces to provide evidence of Hamas’s presence at the site.

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Israel now controls Gaza’s harbor, after killing 10 militants, clearing the surrounding buildings, and dismantling 10 tunnel shafts, the military said in a statement. People in the southern Gaza Strip reported Israel had dropped leaflets near Khan Younis to flee, raising fears that Israel was expanding its battle against Hamas, which is designated a terrorist organization by the US and Europe.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the shift in focus to the Israel-Hamas war has slowed deliveries of artillery shells to Kyiv, undermining the war effort as the counteroffensive against Russia grinds to a standstill.

For more stories on the Israel-Hamas war, click here.

UN Says No Aid Trucks Entered Gaza for Second Day (5:19 a.m.)

No aid trucks entered Gaza for a second consecutive day on Thursday, the UN said in a daily update. A lack of fuel for trucks is hindering the UN Relief and Works Agency’s ability to receive and distribute goods, it said, adding that no vehicles were expected on Friday either because of a continuing communications shutdown in Gaza.

Blinken Calls Jordanian Official Over Field Hospital Injuries (3:20 a.m.)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called his counterpart in Jordan, Ayman Safadi, “to share his deep concern for the Jordanian medical personnel injured outside the Jordanian Field Hospital while providing critical medical care in Gaza,” the State Department said.

“The secretary reiterated that civilians and medical personnel at hospitals must be protected,” according to a statement from spokesman Matthew Miller.

Netanyahu Says Command Center Was Under Hospital (3 a.m.)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country’s forces had discovered a command center under Al-Shifa Hospital in the Gaza Strip, along with bombs and weapons. The country has faced some criticism from leaders in the Mideast, UN and elsewhere for the raid, with questions raised over whether its claims of a command center have been justified by the evidence.

In an interview on the CBS Evening News on Thursday, Netanyahu said “terrorist chieftains and terrorists” had fled the hospital grounds as the Israeli military approached.

“Now we’re doing this very gingerly, because we’re, we’re trying to do the moral thing, the right thing,” the prime minister said. “To deprive Hamas of having this safe zone in the hospital but at the same time to neutralize its use as a command center for terrorists.”

Blinken Urges Israel to Address ‘Settler Extremist Violence’ (2:15 a.m.)

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday discussed the clashes between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the West Bank with Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, according to a State Department statement. Blinken, the department said, “stressed the urgent need for affirmative steps to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank, including by confronting rising levels of settler extremist violence.”

Early this month, the West Bank Health Authority said eight Palestinians had been killed by settlers since Oct. 7. According to the Israeli military, at least 17 Israelis had been killed by Palestinians in the West Bank since the beginning of the year, many of them settlers. In their call, Blinken and Gantz also spoke about efforts to speed up and enhance the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, the State Department said.

Zelenskiy Says Israel-Hamas War Slowing Ukraine Shell Supply (11:44 p.m.)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the shift in focus to the Israel-Hamas war has slowed deliveries of artillery shells to Kyiv, undermining the war effort as the counteroffensive against Russia grinds to a standstill.

Combatants in the Middle East have sought 155-millimeter shells, a key component to weapons deliveries Ukraine needs to press back Russia’s invasion, the president said. The sudden demand comes at a sensitive moment, as the European Union signals it’s unlikely to fulfill a promise to deliver a million rounds of artillery by March.

“Our supplies have decreased,” Zelenskiy told a group of journalists in his office in Kyiv Thursday. “It is life — and it is normal, as everyone is fighting for survival and we should defend ourselves as well.”

US, EU Back UN Force in Postwar Gaza, Adding Pressure on Israel (10:23 p.m.)

The US and its European allies are pushing a plan to deploy an international peacekeeping force in the Gaza Strip after the war, according to people familiar with the matter, raising pressure on Israel to bring its military operation to an end as civilian casualties mount.

The people, who asked not to be identified discussing private deliberations, said US and European officials concede big questions remain about whether such an operation would be workable in Gaza, and recognize that Israel remains highly skeptical of such a plan. But they said even discussing the idea may help push Israel to think more about wrapping up the campaign and consider what might come next.

Israeli Troops Uncover Tunnel Shaft at Shifa Hospital (9:27 p.m.)

Israel forces found an operational tunnel shaft at Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Daniel Hagari said in a press briefing. In addition, a vehicle containing a large amount of weapons and ammunition was found at the hospital. Hagari said the vehicle had been prepared for the October 7th attack on Israel, but had not been used in the attack.

Israel distributed a 27-second video of what it said was an entrance to the tunnel.

US State Department Defends Israel’s Shifa Operation (9 p.m.)

State Department spokesman Matthew Miller pushed back on reporters who questioned Israel’s evidence about the presence of Hamas fighters at Shifa hospital, saying the pictures of ammunition and guns that Israeli forces had provided should be sufficient.

“I didn’t know that there was a sort of acceptable threshold level of rifles to be held in hospitals,” Miller said, when asked about images released by Israel showing a small amount of weapons seized during the unfolding military operation at the hospital. “I’m from Texas. Even in Texas, we don’t keep assault rifles in hospitals.”

On Wednesday, fuel was transported into Gaza for the first time via the Rafah crossing from Egypt, Miller said. Before the delivery, the trucks were not able to deliver aid across Gaza, and the warehouses storing aid brought in from Egypt had filled up, leading to a halt in aid deliveries across the border, he said.

Second Gentleman Meets Muslim Student Injured In Suspected Hate Crime (8:46 p.m.)

Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff met Thursday with a Muslim student from Stanford who was injured in a hit-and-run that police are investigating as a hate crime.

Emhoff and US Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Rashad Hussain met with Stanford student Abdulwahab Omira while in the Bay Area for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum. Omira, who is Arab American, alleges he was struck by a White classmate who criticized “you and your people.”

The White House has sought to balance steadfast support for Israel in the wake of last month’s attack by Hamas with concerns voiced by some Americans - and particularly young voters - over the treatment of Palestinians as civilian casualties mount in the ongoing conflict. President Joe Biden has said the federal government is offering support to state and local law enforcement amid concerns over both anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents.

Israel Drops Leaflets Telling Gazans to Flee From Around Southern Town (7:30 p.m.)

Residents of the eastern areas of Khan Younis town in southern Gaza Strip shared pictures of flyers in Arabic asking them to evacuate to “known shelters.”

The leaftlets raised fears that Israel was preparing to push its military campaign against Hamas farther south to areas where it had previously suggested would be safe for civilians.

Gaza Strip Telecom Services ‘Gone Out of Service’ (4:31 p.m.)

All telecom services in the Gaza Strip have “gone out of service” as all energy sources sustaining the network have been depleted, with fuel not being allowed in, Paltel, the main telecom provider in the territory, said in a post on X.

Egypt Denies it Was Pressured to Take in Palestinians from Gaza (3:45 p.m.)

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said his nation wasn’t pressured by the US to take in Palestinians from Gaza, and that Cairo was working alongside its international partners to free Israeli hostages held by militants in the strip.

Shoukry’s remarks to reporters came in response to questions about whether the US and Israel had offered financial incentives to allow in Palestinians displaced by the Israel-Hamas war. Egypt has repeatedly and strenuously rejected any proposal that Gazans be relocated to north Sinai, saying such a move poses not only a security threat but also undermines Palestinian hopes for a state of their own.

No Stop in Sight to Exchanges of Fire on Israel-Lebanon Border (2:30 p.m.)

The Israeli military said it struck a militant group attempting to launch anti-tank missiles from Lebanon, in the latest of what has become an almost daily exchange of fire.

Earlier in the day, Israeli fighter jets carried out strikes on Hezbollah military posts following an overnight attack from Lebanon in which an anti-tank missile was fired at an Israeli community.

Egypt Preparing Ambulances to Transfer Infants from Gaza to Egyptian Hospitals, Cabinet Says (15:56 p.m.)

Egypt prepared ambulances and incubators at the Rafah Crossing for the transfer of 35 infants from Gaza, the cabinet said in a statement.

Earlier this month, WHO said the lives of an estimated 130 premature babies will be threatened as incubators will stop running due to lack of fuel.

Germany Raids Properties Linked to Hezbollah (10 a.m.)

German authorities conducted nationwide raids on 54 properties as part of their probe into an Islamist organization suspected of supporting banned activities of Hezbollah.

“We have the Islamist scene in our sights,” Interior Minister Nancy Faeser said in an emailed statement. “Especially now, at a time when many Jews feel particularly threatened, we do not tolerate Islamist propaganda or antisemitic and anti-Israel incitement,” she added. “That is why we are resolutely investigating every well-founded suspicion.”

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