Above photo: Screenshot of Hezbollah leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah delivering his first address since the events of October 7, from an unspecified location in Lebanon. November 3, 2023.
Hezbollah leader warns Gaza attack must end to avoid regional war.
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah says “all options on the table” in terms of military escalation in southern Lebanon; meanwhile, the U.S. makes a weak and much-belated call for humanitarian “pauses” as death toll in Gaza surpasses 9,200.
- 9,227 Palestinians killed, including 3,826 children, and 23,516 wounded in Gaza
- 144 Palestinians killed in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem
- The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement, Hassan Nasrallah, spoke on Friday afternoon, as exchanges of fire across the demarcation line continued, while Yemen’s Houthis and the Islamic Resistance in Iraq also join the fight.
- U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits Israel for the third time since October 7, calling for “humanitarian pauses” to allow for the release of captives – a number of whom having reportedly died in Israeli airstrikes
- The U.S. House of Representatives passes a $14.5 billion military aid package to Israel, on top of existing $3.8 billion a year in military aid. The bill would need to pass the Senate before being implemented – an unlikely possibility at this time.
- In contrast, the U.N. has launched a paltry $1.2 billion appeal for humanitarian aid in Gaza
- Israeli bombardment of Gaza continued unabated, reportedly fully destroying a neighborhood of al-Bureij refugee camp and hitting close to al-Quds hospital in Gaza City, killing at least 198 people overnight
- Palestine TV correspondent Mohammad Abu Hatab among those killed on Thursday night, along with 11 family members
- Fierce on-the-ground fighting between the Israeli army and Palestinian resistance groups continued in northern Gaza
- More wounded and people with foreign passports were evacuated to Egypt, but humanitarian groups say it is not enough, as many Gaza hospitals have warned they would run out of fuel in the hours and days to come
- UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini tells CNN: “The number of people being killed so far is so staggering that this cannot be collateral anymore”
- Israel has sent hundreds of Palestinians from Gaza who had been stripped of their Israeli work permits and detained in recent weeks back into Gaza
- Israeli forces killed seven Palestinians and detained at least 55 overnight across the occupied West Bank as armed confrontations continued with Palestinian resistance groups
- Israel mulls the creation of a “special court” to try Hamas members for October 7 killings, Jerusalem Post says
- Bahrain recalled its ambassador to Israel and expelled the Israeli envoy to Manama on Thursday
- Crackdown on solidarity with Palestine abroad continues, as Germany outlaws the Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
- National March on Washington, D.C., in solidarity with Palestine, scheduled for Saturday
Close to 200 more Palestinians killed, detained workers sent back to Gaza
Israel continues to mercilessly pummel the Gaza Strip, with WAFA news agency reporting deadly airstrikes in several neighborhoods of Gaza City, as well as Deir al-Balah, and the al-Bureij and Nuseirat refugee camps, killing at least 198 people overnight according to the Gaza Ministry of Health. A strike reportedly hit a cemetery in Beit Lahiya, killing a number of graveyard workers, while an entire neighborhood in al-Bureij was razed by airstrikes, killing at least 15 people.
Among the scores killed overnight was Palestine TV correspondent Mohammad Abu Hatab, who died along with his wife, son, brother, and eight other relatives in Khan Younis – a city in southern Gaza where Israeli authorities had told civilians to evacuate.
Earlier this week, the BBC – usually insensitive to Palestinians’ plight – reported that it had independently confirmed a number of Israeli airstrikes in southern Gaza, further proof, if need be, that nowhere is safe in Gaza.
News of Abu Hattab’s death left his colleagues in tears on live television, as fellow journalist Salman Al-Bashir removed his protective press gear on air, saying: “This gear and helmet do not protect any journalist, they are just empty slogans. We are victims, live on air. We are victims awaiting our turn to be killed.”
Several hundred people with foreign passports were allowed out of Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt earlier this week, as well as dozens of patients in grave condition. On Friday, the Gaza Ministry of Health called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to provide safe passage to ambulances carrying hundreds of critically wounded people to the Rafah crossing, adding that the Israeli army was “preventing their arrival to the southern Gaza Strip by cutting off roads and targeting ambulances.”
Gaza’s medical system is teetering on the brink of collapse, with hospitals warning that they may run out of fuel in the hours and days to come. “The situation is beyond catastrophic,” Dr. Marwan Abusada at al-Shifa Hospital, warned.
While welcoming the first medical evacuations, CARE International said on Thursday that it was not enough.
“It is a relief that medical evacuations from Gaza have begun. Around 76 critically injured patients crossed the Rafah border on Wednesday. However, this is merely the tip of the iceberg. With over 22,000 injuries, medical evacuations and supplies must be prioritized in the coming days to save lives and prevent further suffering,” CARE West Bank and Gaza Country Director Hiba Tibi said. “The conditions for patients are haunting. Hospitals are now ceasing operations as fuel runs out. Moreover, hospitals have not been spared from the violence – endangering the lives of patients and medical workers.”
Meanwhile, intense fighting between Israeli ground troops and Palestinian resistance groups has continued in neighborhoods of Gaza City and the northern and central Gaza Strip, with tolls from the fighting difficult to come by. Palestinian groups have continued to fire rockets into Israel, reportedly hitting areas in the Gaza envelope, Bir Sheba, and Tel Aviv.
It is in this context that Israel sent hundreds of Palestinians back into Gaza on Friday morning. Some 4,000 Palestinians from Gaza found themselves stuck in Israel after October 7, as Israel stripped them all of their work permits and detained them in terrible conditions that were denounced as collective punishment.
Hezbollah leader speech warns of further escalation on Lebanon-Israel front
In his first speech since the beginning of the onslaught on Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah rejected Israeli claims that it was involved in Operation Al-Aqsa flood, claiming that the Lebanese resistance group found out about Operation Al-Aqsa Flood at the same time as the rest of the world, but said that Hezbollah had been “engaged in the battle since October 8” – the very next day.
Nasrallah said that the current exchange of fire between Israel and armed groups in southern Lebanon in recent weeks would “not be the end” – claiming that the Lebanese-Israeli front was diverting a significant percentage of Israel’s military might away from Gaza.
If Israel decides to escalate its strikes on Lebanon, “it will be the biggest act of foolishness in the history of your existence,” he said. “All scenarios are open on our Lebanese southern front, all options are laid out.”
Israel occupied southern Lebanon between 1985 and 2000, and carried out a violent war with Hezbollah in 2006. The current situation has left many worried that Lebanon, already undergoing a political and economic crisis, could become fully embroiled in the war.
At least six Hezbollah members were killed by Israeli airstrikes in recent days, as both Hezbollah and Hamas’ Al-Qassam Brigades have claimed a number of strikes into northern Israel and the occupied Shebaa Farms.
Israeli forces have reportedly used white phosphorus in southern Lebanon, destroying thousands of olive trees and killing at least two young shepherds, Lebanon’s National News Agency reported.
The possibility of Hezbollah’s more intense involvement in the fighting comes as Houthi rebels in Yemen claimed responsibility for a number of drones and ballistic missiles fired from Yemen towards the Israeli coastal city of Eilat earlier this week, vowing that it would continue.
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq group meanwhile announced on Friday that it would “begin next week a new phase in confronting the enemies, in support of Palestine, and in revenge for the martyrs,” after claiming it had struck an Israeli military “target” near the Dead Sea, as well as a U.S. military base in Erbil.
West Bank and Jerusalem: More dead and detained
More armed confrontations were reported overnight across the occupied West Bank, killing at least nine Palestinians since Thursday night.
In Jenin, five Palestinians were reported killed amid heavy fighting, and roads have been destroyed by Israeli military vehicles and bulldozers. The Palestinians killed in Jenin were identified by WAFA as Wisam Zyoud, Yamen Jarrar, Suleiman Muhammad Steiti, 31, Jihad Ibrahim Mustafa Nagnagiah, 26, and Mutaz Abu al-Nada, 26. On Friday, Israeli forces shot and killed 33-year-old Yousef Shaheen in the village of Budrus.
Huge crowds gathered in Jenin on Friday for the funerals of those killed overnight.
Meanwhile, Defense for Children International – Palestine (DCIP) confirmed on Thursday that two Palestinian children had been killed by Israeli forces, bringing the total number of Palestinian children killed in the occupied West Bank since October 7 to 41. Ayham Mohammad Talal Al-Shafi, 12, was fatally shot with live ammunition during an Israeli army raid in Al-Bireh on Thursday, while Hamdan Omar Mahmoud Hamdan, 13, succumbed to his wounds on Thursday after he was shot in the back of the head by Israeli forces on October 30 near the village of Zawata.
Some 55 Palestinians were reportedly detained overnight from across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. WAFA reported that Israeli police raided al-Maqassed hospital in East Jerusalem on Thursday, searching for patients from Gaza and detaining a number of them.
Prisoners rights groups have said that at least 2,070 Palestinians have been detained in the occupied territory in the month of October, including 145 minors. There have been widespread reports of torture and abuse of Palestinian detainees at the hands of Israeli soldiers since October 7.
U.S. belatedly calls for “pauses” in bombardment
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel on Friday, his third visit since October 7, meeting with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to push for “humanitarian pauses” – as opposed to a ceasefire – in order to allow some aid into the beleaguered Gaza Strip, the evacuation of foreign nationals from the tiny bombarded territory, and the release of the more than 200 hostages held by Hamas and other Palestinian groups since October 7.
Earlier this week, Haaretz reported that the Biden administration is looking into bringing the Gaza Strip back under the control of the very unpopular and fragile Palestinian Authority – an idea that Israel’s far-right government has reportedly rejected.
The scale of devastation in Gaza, coupled with widespread global outrage, is leading Washington to make belated and timid calls for restraint to Israel. “The problem for [Israel] is that the criticism is getting louder, not just among their detractors, but from their best friends,” one senior administration official told CNN.
This hasn’t stopped the Republican-majority House of Representatives from voting in favor of a plan to provide $14.3 billion in military aid to Israel on Thursday. Senator Chuck Schumer has said the Democrat-held Senate would be writing its own Israeli aid bill that also includes military aid to Ukraine and removes offsetting budget cuts that Republicans added to the House bill. President Joe Biden promised that if the Republican-led House legislation were to land on his desk, it would be vetoed.
Nonetheless, the amount proposed by the Republicans makes the U.N. recent appeal for aid to Gaza seem paltry in comparison, as the international body estimated that at least $1.2 billion would be needed to meet Palestinian humanitarian needs – noting that only 25 percent of an initial appeal for $294 million had been raised so far.
Elsewhere in the Global North, Germany has outlawed organizations it alleges has ties to Hamas, including the prominent Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network.
“Complicity in genocide is illegal under international law, as is the persecution of organizations because they oppose apartheid, and we are committed to hold Germany accountable for its crimes against not only Samidoun, but the Palestinian people as a whole,” the group wrote on Thursday. “This attack should be of serious concern to all who carry out political work, especially for Palestinian liberation. It is meant to introduce a norm in which organizations may be banned for organizing demonstrations, lectures, publishing posters and engaging in entirely public and political work that challenges the German state and its complicity in Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, and ongoing genocide in Gaza.”