The Israeli military and Hamas officials both denied reports of a ceasefire in southern Gaza to allow foreigners out of the besieged Palestinian enclave and allow aid to be brought in, as the number of Palestinian casualties due to Israeli bombardment of Gaza crossed 2,700.
Earlier, media reports had cited security sources in Egypt as claiming a deal was reached to open the Rafah border crossing to allow aid into the enclave. However, Hamas official Izzat El Reshiq told the Reuters news agency this was false, and neither had a ceasefire been declared, nor the Rafah border crossing opened.
“There is currently no truce and humanitarian aid in Gaza in exchange for getting foreigners out,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement. Israel declared war on Hamas, and by extension Gaza, a day after the group’s fighters broke through the heavily fortified border on Oct. 7, shooting, stabbing and burning to death more than 1,400 people, most of them civilians.
Earlier today, the U.N. Human Rights Office issued an urgent appeal for a cessation of hostilities to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. “There have been very mammoth diplomatic efforts to try to make this happen. The secretary-general is constantly liaising with all the parties that are involved, and many other member states are also exercising what leverage they can. We need the security for the aid deliveries to be able to happen,” spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani told CNN.
“We have seen hospitals that have been forced to evacuate. Doctors insisting that they will stay with patients who are in the ICU wards and the neonatal units, where you had the impossible choice of whether to abandon your patients or to stay with them and risk death,” she continued, noting the forced evacuation of hundreds of thousands to southern Gaza had worsened the humanitarian situation there as well.
Siege of Gaza
Meanwhile, the weeklong siege of Gaza continued overnight, with reports emerging of over one million people fleeing their homes as Israel continued to amass troops on the border in preparation for a feared ground offensive. The death toll of the bombing campaign has cross 2,750, primarily civilians and children, while 1,000 are missing and believed to be under rubble. Palestinian officials have further claimed that over 9,000 people have been injured in the Israeli airstrikes.
Ahead of the expected ground offensive, U.S. President Joe Biden on Sunday warned Israel against occupying Palestinian territory, saying the ground assault would be “a big mistake.” Speaking with CBS News’s 60 Minutes, the U.S. president backed a humanitarian corridor to let people flee the war-hit area as well as allow the delivery of humanitarian aid, including food and water, into Gaza.
“I am confident that Israel is going to act under the rules of war,” he said, adding he did not believe Hamas represented “all the Palestinian people.” He said he wished to see the group eliminated.
To a question, Biden said he did not believe American troops would be necessary, as U.S. warships headed to the area amid growing clashes on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon.
Iran and Lebanon’s Hezbollah have both warned that an invasion would be met with a response. “No one can guarantee the control of the situation and the non-expansion of the conflicts” if Israel sends its soldiers into Gaza, said Iran Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.
In a statement posted to X, formerly Twitter, interim Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar reiterated Pakistan’s concern over the ongoing violence and loss of life in Gaza. “We stand in solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine and call for an immediate ceasefire and lifting of the blockade in Gaza,” he wrote. “Israel’s deliberate, indiscriminate and disproportionate targeting of civilians in Gaza is against all norms of civility and in manifest violation of international law,” he said, noting the violence must be seen through the context of decades of forced and illegal occupation of Palestinian territory.
“The U.N. and international community must immediately act to open safe and unrestricted humanitarian corridors for transportation of urgently needed relief supplies to the besieged Gaza,” he said, adding Pakistan was working with the OIC and its member states to seek “urgent action” to alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza.