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Jerusalem Nov. 9, 6:06 p.m.
Backed by armored vehicles, Israeli soldiers have engaged Hamas fighters in days of running gun battles in Gaza City, fighting through rubble-filled streets and blasted-out buildings for control of the strip’s largest urban center and the militants’ main stronghold.
Video trickling out of Gaza show striking images of war, offering glimpses of close-quarters urban combat that are reminiscent of the 20th century’s most brutal battles and the savagery of more recent battles like the American-led fight to retake Fallujah in Iraq in 2004.
Intense overcrowding, deteriorating hygiene and lack of access to water, sanitation and health care are putting Gaza’s two million residents at risk of a rapid spread of infectious diseases, the World Health Organization warned, saying it had already seen an increase in illnesses.
Diarrhea, chickenpox, scabies and upper respiratory infections are rampant in a “very concerning” emergence of disease, the agency said on Wednesday, adding that younger children and immunocompromised people were at particular risk.
At least 15 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank on Thursday, including 11 in Israeli military raids in the city of Jenin, the Palestinian Authority’s health ministry said, as rising violence in the territory raised fears that another front could open in Israel’s war with Hamas.
Over 150 Palestinians have been killed in the Israeli-occupied West Bank since Hamas’s surprise attack from Gaza last month, according to the United Nations, making it one of the deadliest periods there in recent memory. The Israeli military said many were killed in gun battles, violent clashes or attempted attacks on Israelis. Others were killed during Israeli settler attacks on Palestinians, the U.N. said.
President Emmanuel Macron of France said Thursday that he would increase his country’s funding for humanitarian aid in Gaza and urged countries to pursue a cease-fire, as conditions in the enclave continue to deteriorate under weeks of bombardment by Israel.
“We need a very rapid humanitarian pause, and we must work toward a cease-fire,” Mr. Macron said at a conference in Paris that he had convened to secure more aid for Gazan civilians.
Moshe Ajami, a veteran Israeli archaeologist, has spent decades sifting through the country’s southern desert to excavate lost ruins that date back more than 2,000 years. But in the past couple of weeks, he has been focused on searching the ashes of homes burned down by Hamas terrorists during last month’s surprise attack, looking for the bones, blood and teeth of Israelis who remain missing.
“As archaeologists, we are trained to identify human remains that others may miss,” said Mr. Ajami, the deputy head of Israel’s Antiquities Authority, during an interview in his office in Jerusalem.
Discussions are underway for Hamas to release a small number of hostages, including some Americans, in return for a short pause in Israel’s military campaign in Gaza, according to officials briefed on the discussions.
Under the terms being negotiated, Hamas would release up to 15 hostages and Israel would pause attacks on Gaza for three days, which would allow time for humanitarian aid to be shipped into the enclave and hostages to be transported out, according to one person briefed on the discussions.
A U.S. military surveillance drone was shot down off the coast of Yemen on Wednesday by Iran-backed Houthi rebels, the Pentagon said.
Pentagon officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss operational matters, confirmed that the drone, an MQ-9 Reaper, had been shot down. But they would not say if the aircraft was armed, where it was flying from or other details.
The White House on Wednesday condemned Representative Rashida Tlaib for embracing a phrase used by some pro-Palestinian groups, a day after the House censured her for her statements regarding the Israel-Hamas war.
The White House was referring specifically to the phrase “from the river to the sea,” a slogan widely regarded as a rallying cry for the eradication of Israel.“