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Global Appeals for Peace: International Calls on Israel to Engage in Ceasefire Negotiations in Gaza - Live Updates

Escalation in Gaza: Israel's Ground Operation Intensifies Amid Communication Blackout

In a dramatic turn of events, Israel initiated an expanded ground operation following a strategic blackout of information in the Gaza Strip. The intensified bombardment and artillery fire, coupled with a disruption of communications, marked a significant escalation. Israel's defense minister characterized the impact as seismic, ushering the Israel-Hamas conflict into a new and intensified phase.

Gaza residents described the onslaught, delivered from both sea and air, as the most severe in the three-week-long conflict. The blackout of information exacerbated the dire situation on the ground, leaving ambulances without communication tools and forcing them to rely on the sound of artillery fire to locate and assist the wounded.

The Palestinian death toll surpassed 7,700, as reported by the Health Ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza. In the occupied West Bank, over 110 Palestinians lost their lives in the violence and Israeli raids. Israel reported over 1,400 casualties, including at least 310 soldiers, during a surprise incursion by Hamas militants. Hamas took 229 hostages into Gaza, releasing four earlier.

The current situation unfolds with heightened risks for an Israeli ground offensive in the Gaza Strip, scenes of sorrow and despair on both sides of the Israel-Gaza border, and international calls for a humanitarian truce. The latest development reveals Hamas's readiness to negotiate a hostage swap, proposing the release of dozens of hostages in exchange for all Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

As the conflict evolves, the dynamics on the ground continue to shift, presenting a multifaceted and evolving challenge for all parties involved.

Find more of AP’s coverage at AP Israel-Hamas War Hub

Unfolding Dynamics: Netanyahu Confronts Hostage Families Amid Dual Objectives

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is slated to meet with hostage families, grappling with the delicate balance of toppling Hamas while ensuring the safe return of captives. Military officials, however, have not elucidated how they plan to achieve both objectives simultaneously, leaving the families concerned about the heightened offensive in Gaza.

In a stark condemnation, Oman's Foreign Ministry declared Israel's actions in Gaza as war crimes and crimes against humanity. Warning of catastrophic consequences, the statement called for immediate international intervention to halt the Israel-Hamas conflict and expedite humanitarian aid deliveries to Gaza.

Hamas, in response to Israel's communication blackout, alleges that Israel seeks to suppress the truth about events in Gaza. Ghazi Hamad, a top Hamas official, accused Israel of fabricating claims to justify targeting the Al Shifa hospital and coercing Palestinians to relocate. While rejecting such tactics, he urged the international community to facilitate humanitarian aid access from Egypt.

Simultaneously, Hamas' military arm, Qassam Brigades, reported firing a barrage of rockets on Dimona, an Israeli city on the Negev Desert's edge. In Istanbul, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced preparations to brand Israel a "war criminal" for its Gaza actions. Erdogan also held Western nations accountable for failing to prevent Israel's attacks, addressing hundreds of thousands at a mass pro-Palestinian rally.

As tensions escalate, the complex dynamics of the Israel-Hamas conflict unfold, weaving a narrative of political maneuvering, humanitarian concerns, and the quest for truth amid the fog of war.

Erdogan's Decree and Global Reactions: Turkey to Label Israel as a War Criminal

In a bold declaration, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced plans to designate Israel as a war criminal on the global stage. Speaking at a mass pro-Palestinian rally in Istanbul, Erdogan proclaimed, "Israel, we will proclaim you as a war criminal to the world." While he did not provide further details, this announcement follows Erdogan's heightened criticism of Israel, where he recently asserted that Hamas is a liberation group rather than a terrorist organization.

The Turkish leader's strong stance marks a notable shift, considering Turkey's recent restoration of full diplomatic ties with Israel. The announcement comes amid a surge of international reactions to Israel's massive overnight airstrikes in Gaza. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres expressed surprise and disappointment at the escalation, highlighting the need for a humanitarian ceasefire. Guterres engaged with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi to discuss ongoing diplomatic efforts to deescalate the conflict.

Meanwhile, U.N. Human Rights Chief Volker Turk condemned Israel's intense air and ground bombardment, stating that it has elevated the crisis in Gaza to "a new level of violence and pain." Turk emphasized the devastating consequences of the communication blackout in Gaza, hindering the location of the wounded and exacerbating the suffering of civilians.

As the international community reacts to the unfolding events, tens of thousands of pro-Palestinian protesters have taken to London's streets for a second consecutive weekend, demanding an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The global response underscores the urgency of addressing the humanitarian crisis and finding diplomatic solutions to deescalate tensions in the region.

Global Outcry: Protests Echo Worldwide as Gaza Suffers

On the banks of the River Thames, a sea of protesters lit fireworks and flares in red and green, expressing solidarity with the people of Gaza. The sentiment echoed globally, with demonstrations in Indonesia, Pakistan, France, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland. Mohammed Ullah, an engineer, expressed surprise at the perceived inaction of politicians and governments in the face of what he described as a genocide against the people of Gaza. While acknowledging the complexities involving Hamas, he passionately condemned the impact on innocent lives, particularly children.

In Jerusalem, the chief of the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, wrote a heartfelt letter to his staff in Gaza, expressing immense worry for their safety amid the near-total communications blackout. Lazzarini acknowledged the dire situation and conveyed hope for an end to the suffering, emphasizing the dedicated efforts of his staff in the midst of this humanitarian crisis.

The Israel-Hamas conflict took a concerning turn as Israel's military struck Hezbollah military infrastructure in Lebanon. The strikes followed anti-tank missile and mortar shell launches from Lebanese territory toward Israel. There are fears that the conflict could expand into Lebanon and northern Israel if Hezbollah decides to join the fray.

Meanwhile, Israel's military once again issued evacuation orders to Palestinians in northern Gaza and Gaza City as it expanded its ground offensive. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari stressed the temporary nature of the measure, indicating that residents could return once hostilities in the region subside. The international community watches with growing concern as the complex dynamics of the conflict unfold, impacting lives and raising questions about the path to a sustainable and just resolution.

Gaza in Crisis: Escalating Death Toll and Humanitarian Appeal

Amid escalating conflict, Israel's military dropped leaflets over northern Gaza designating the area as a warzone. The Israeli military estimated a significant population shift, with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians moving south since the war's inception. However, tens of thousands have returned amidst relentless airstrikes in southern Gaza.

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a poignant appeal, urging an immediate end to the fighting in Gaza. Amid a total communications and power blackout, WHO expressed grave concerns about reported bombardments near the Indonesia and Shifa hospitals in northern Gaza. The organization called for a humanitarian ceasefire, emphasizing the need to protect civilians and infrastructure.

The Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza reported a devastating toll, with 377 people killed since Israel's expanded ground offensive on Friday. The total death toll in Gaza stands at 7,703, including 3,195 children and 1,863 women. The health network in Gaza has been paralyzed by the Israeli actions, and urgent calls were made for blood donations, medical supplies, fuel, and the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt for evacuations.

In Ramallah, West Bank, the Palestinian health minister decried the situation as a genocide, highlighting the dire conditions in Gaza with thousands trapped under rubble and disease spreading rapidly among displaced populations in unsanitary shelters. The plea for humanitarian intervention grows more urgent as the crisis deepens.

Communication Blackout: Desperation Grows as Gaza's Networks Severed

In the face of a near-total communication blackout in Gaza, residents find themselves isolated and desperate, unable to call for ambulances as Israel intensifies its bombardment. With communication networks largely severed, the Palestinian Red Crescent spokesperson, Nebal Farsakh, highlighted the challenges faced by emergency teams who are forced to chase the sounds of artillery barrages and airstrikes in their search for people in need.

Meanwhile, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi emphasized the urgent need for humanitarian aid in Gaza, noting that the number of trucks allowed into the besieged territory falls far below the actual needs of the population. In televised comments, he described the needs as massive and revealed ongoing efforts by the Egyptian government to deescalate the conflict through talks with the warring parties. These discussions include considerations about the release of prisoners and hostages, although specific details were not provided.

However, Egypt's Foreign Ministry issued a stern warning about the grave risks associated with a wide-scale Israeli ground invasion. It criticized Israel for not respecting the U.N. General Assembly's resolution on Friday, which called for a humanitarian truce. As the situation in Gaza reaches critical levels, the international community watches with mounting concern, hoping for diplomatic interventions to alleviate the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region.

Desperation and Diplomacy at the Heart of Gaza's Crisis

The dire situation in Gaza, marked by a near-total communication blackout and escalating Israeli bombardment, paints a haunting picture of desperation and isolation for its residents. With severed networks hindering the ability to call for ambulances, emergency teams resort to chasing the sounds of artillery barrages—a stark illustration of the challenges faced by those on the ground.

In the midst of this crisis, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi's urgent plea for increased humanitarian aid underscores the magnitude of the needs in Gaza, where the current truck allowances fall far short of the population's requirements. President el-Sisi's commitment to deescalation through diplomatic channels, including discussions about the release of prisoners and hostages, offers a glimmer of hope amid the chaos.

However, the Foreign Ministry of Egypt issues a grave warning about the risks associated with a potential Israeli ground invasion, expressing dissatisfaction with Israel's disregard for the U.N. General Assembly's call for a humanitarian truce on Friday. The international community remains on edge, closely monitoring developments and hoping for diplomatic interventions to alleviate the intensifying humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

As the world awaits critical decisions and actions, the people of Gaza endure a harrowing reality, emphasizing the imperative for swift and meaningful international efforts to bring about peace, ensure the safety of civilians, and address the urgent humanitarian needs in the region.