The Israeli military prepared for a possible ground invasion in Gaza on Thursday as it pounded the tiny coastal strip in retaliation for the unprecedented weekend attack on Israel by the militant group Hamas.
In a deliberate show of support for Israel, a U.S. official confirmed that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin plans to visit on Friday, a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Suffering in Gaza, meanwhile, rose dramatically with Palestinians desperate for food, fuel and medicine and the territory’s only power plant shut down for lack of fuel. The morgue at Gaza’s biggest hospital overflowed Thursday as bodies came in faster than relatives could claim them.
Israel said Thursday that a complete siege would remain in place until Hamas freed 150 hostages taken during its incursion. Egypt has engaged in intensive talks with Israel and the United States to allow the delivery of aid and fuel through its Rafah crossing point, which remained closed on both sides Thursday.
The war has claimed at least 2,800 lives on both sides, and displaced 423,000 people in Gaza.
Here’s what’s happening on Day 6 of the latest Israel-Hamas war:
JERUSALEM – Israel’s military on Friday ordered the evacuation of northern Gaza, a region that is home to 1.1 million people, within 24 hours, a United Nations spokesperson said.
The order, delivered to the U.N., comes as Israel presses an offensive against Hamas militants. U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the evacuation would be “impossible” without “devastating humanitarian consequences.”
This could signal an impending ground offensive, though the Israeli military has not yet confirmed such an appeal. On Thursday, it said that while it was preparing, a decision had not yet been made.
NEW DELHI – India’s first chartered flight brought over 200 Indian nationals back home from Tel Aviv on Friday, nearly a week after the latest Israel-Hamas war erupted.
“Everyone is scared. We have no idea what would happen there. We had to move to shelters when there were missile attacks. This was not normal,” said Deepak Sharma, a 20-year-old student who was studying physics at a college in north Israel.
There are about 18,000 Indian citizens living in Israel, a small percentage of them students, according to India’s External Affairs Ministry. Nearly one-third of them have registered with the Indian embassy ready to fly back home.
New Delhi has not heard of any Indian casualties since Hamas launched its Oct. 7 incursion, the ministry said.
JERUSALEM – The number of people forced from their homes by the airstrikes soared 25% in a day, reaching 423,000 out of a population of 2.3 million, the United Nations said Thursday. Most crowded into U.N.-run schools.
Families were cutting down to one meal a day, said Rami Swailem, a 34-year-old lecturer at al-Azhar University, who had 32 relatives sheltering in his home. Water stopped coming to the building two days ago, and they have rationed what’s left in a tank on the roof.
The death toll from Israeli strikes on Gaza rose to 1,537, with 6,612 people wounded, the Gaza-based Health Ministry said Thursday. Of those killed, 500 were under the age of 18, the ministry said.
Palestinians were reporting heavy Israeli airstrikes across the besieged Gaza Strip, with bombardment on residential buildings in densely populated city districts and refugee camps.
KATHMANDU, Nepal – More than 200 Nepali nationals evacuated from Israel returned home Friday as the government worked to bring back the bodies of 10 Nepali students killed in the unprecedented attack by Hamas.
Nepal’s foreign minister, Narayan Prasad Saud, accompanied 254 citizens on a plane chartered by the government. The returnees were welcomed home by family and friends at Kathmandu airport.
In addition to those killed, four Nepalis were wounded and one is still missing, Saud said. One of the wounded was flown back in the evacuation flight and three others were getting treated at hospitals in Israel, Saud said.
He said 54 Nepali nationals still in Israel have been moved to safer areas and will be evacuated eventually. Many Nepalis in Israel are students studying agriculture techniques.
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