Israel continued to pound Gaza on Wednesday, launching more airstrikes ahead of a possible ground invasion as the conflict with Hamas entered its 19th day.
Speaking from the White House on Wednesday, President Biden emphasized the need for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza while reiterating his support for Israel, saying: "Israel has the right, and I would add, responsibility to respond to the slaughter of their people.”
Israel has reportedly agreed to a request by the United States to delay its ground offensive to allow more time for hostage negotiations, humanitarian aid to reach civilians in Gaza and for the U.S. to move air defense systems into the region.
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• Israel has agreed to delay an expected ground invasion of Gaza to allow the United States to move air defense systems into the region, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.
• President Biden had been urging Israel to delay such an operation to allow hostage negotiations to continue and for humanitarian aid to reach civilians.
• The death toll from the conflict continues to rise. More than 1,400 people were reportedly killed in the Oct. 7 attack on Israel, including 33 Americans. And more than 6,000 people have been reported dead in Gaza since Israel began launching retaliatory strikes, according to the United Nations.
• UNICEF, the U.N. agency for children’s welfare, says that 2,360 children have been killed in Gaza since the war began.
• U.S. officials say they now have “high confidence” that last week’s blast at a Gaza hospital was caused by a Palestinian rocket that broke up midflight.
• AP: Israel launches 400 strikes across Gaza, killing hundreds, health officials there say
• AFP: U.N. chief alleges law violations in Gaza, angering Israel
• NBC News: The many reasons Netanyahu may be delaying an Israeli ground offensive in Gaza
• Time: What aid groups say Gaza needs
UN’s Gaza agency says more than 613,000 displaced people are sheltering in UN facilities
The United Nations’ agency in Gaza says that more than 613,000 people are now sheltering in U.N. facilities across the Gaza Strip, with most shelters filled well beyond capacity.
In a statement issued Wednesday, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), also said 38 of the agency’s staff members have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7 and 20 others have been injured. The statement also said that 41 UNRWA facilities have been damaged since the start of the conflict.
Gaza's hospitals treating emergency cases only as fuel runs low
Palestinians bring a girl wounded in Israeli bombardment to a hospital in Deir Al-Balah, south of the Gaza Strip, Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2023. (Hatem Moussa/AP)
"Hospitals in the Gaza Strip are taking emergency cases only, the UN says, amid fears fuel supplies will run out across the territory in the coming hours. UN facilities are also overwhelmed by 600,000 displaced Palestinians seeking shelter - four times their capacity.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza meanwhile says that more than 700 people have been killed by Israeli air strikes for a second day in a row. Israel's military says it is targeting Hamas fighters and infrastructure.
It launched a bombing campaign against Hamas - which Israel, the UK, US and other powers class as a terrorist organisation - in response to an unprecedented cross-border assault on 7 October in which at least 1,400 people were killed and 222 others were taken hostage."
Biden reiterates support for Israel, emphasizes need for humanitarian aid in Gaza
President Biden holds a press conference with Prime Minister of Australia Anthony Albanese at the White House on October 25, 2023. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
President Biden reiterated his support for Israel during a press conference at the White House on Wednesday. "The sense of outrage that the Israeli people are feeling after the brutality inflicted by Hamas is completely understandable,” Biden said. “Israel has the right, and I would add, responsibility to respond to the slaughter of their people.”
Biden also emphasized the need for humanitarian aid into Gaza. "Hamas does not represent the vast majority of the Palestinian people on the Gaza Strip or anywhere else,” he said, adding that the militant group "hides behind" Palestinian civilians. He said Israel must "do everything in its power...as difficult as it is, to protect innocent civilians."
Biden said he was also "alarmed about extremist settlers attacking Palestinians in the West Bank" and added, "they have to be held accountable. It has to stop."
The president said after this war, there could be "no going back to the status quo" and called for renewed work toward a two-state solution.
Al Jazeera says bureau chief's family members killed in airstrike
Al Jazeera said that the wife and two children of the outlet’s bureau chief in Gaza, Wael Al-Dahdouh, were killed in an Israeli airstrike Wednesday. According to Al Jazeera, Al-Dahdouh’s family had been sheltering in the Nuseirat camp in central Gaza after they were displaced from their neighborhood amid the initial wave of retaliatory strikes following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel.
Scenes of grief from both sides of the conflict
The following images were captured by photojournalists on Oct. 25, 2023, as the war between Israel and Hamas continued for its 19th day.
Palestinians attend the funeral of Ahmed Amtir, killed in an Israeli airstrike on Qalandia Refugee Camp in East Jerusalem, in Ramallah, West Bank. (Issam Rimawi/Anadolu via Getty Images)
Mourners attend the funeral for members of the Sharabi family, who were killed in the Oct. 7 attack on Kibbutz Be'eri, in Kfar Harif, Israel. (Amir Levy/Getty Images)
People mourn by the bodies of relatives killed in Israeli bombardment in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip. (Said Khatib/AFP via Getty Images)
An installation of blindfolded giant teddy bears adorned with photos of Israelis held captive in Gaza, is seen in a central square in Tel Aviv, Israel. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
If Israel destroys Hamas, who will run Gaza?
A member of Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, military wing of the Palestinian Hamas movement, takes part in a parade in Gaza City on November 14, 2021. (Mahmud Hams/AFP via Getty Images)
"Ramallah, West Bank — Israel has vowed to 'destroy Hamas,' the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip. Israel's neighbors have warned that an invasion and ground war would bring many more civilian casualties and displace even more of Gaza's roughly 2.3 million people from their homes, but there's another concern: If or when Hamas is removed from power in Gaza, who or what will replace it?"
Netanyahu asserts Israel is preparing for a ground invasion
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses media during a joint press conference with French President in Jerusalem on October 24, 2023. (Christophe Ena/AFP via Getty Images)
During a televised statement on Wednesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel is preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza, but didn't provide further details or timing of the operation.
“It should be like this so that we can save our soldiers’ lives. I want to be clear, the timing of the IDF action, the timing will be set unanimously by the war cabinet, together with the chief of staff,” he said.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Wednesday that Israel agreed to delay a ground invasion of Gaza so the U.S. could deploy air defense systems to protect U.S. troop in the region.
U.N. Security Council to vote on rival U.S., Russian plans for Israel, Gaza action
A woman stands during a press conference following the meeting of the Security Council on the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas at U.N. headquarters on Oct. 25. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)
"The United Nations Security Council will vote later on Wednesday on rival proposals by the United States and Russia for action on the conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants Hamas in the Gaza Strip, diplomats said.
Both countries seek U.N. Security Council resolutions to address shortages of food, water, medical supplies and electricity in Gaza. But the U.S. has called for pauses to allow aid to enter Gaza, while Russia wants a humanitarian ceasefire.
The 15-member council is due to vote at 3 p.m. EDT/1900 GMT. A Security Council resolution needs at least nine votes and no vetoes by the United States, France, Britain, Russia or China to be adopted."
Impacts of conflict have never been 'more stark' for women and girls, U.N. says
A woman holding a girl reacts after Israeli airstrikes hit the Ridwan neighborhood of Gaza City on Monday. (Ali Jadallah/Anadolu via Getty Images)
The Israel-Hamas war has displaced more than 690,000 women and girls, leaving them at greater risk of violence, according to Sima Bahous, executive director of UN-Women.
"The impacts of conflict on women and girls have never been more stark," she said in a speech before the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday.
Bahous said of the more than 6,000 people killed in Gaza, 67% were women and children.
She also noted that more than 1,400 Israelis were killed in the horrific Oct. 7 attack by Hamas, many of whom were women and children.
Mourners gather around the graves of British-Israelis Lianne Sharabi and her two teen daughters during their funeral in Kfar Harif, Israel, on Wednesday. (Ariel Schalit/AP)
Many of the estimated 200 hostages taken by Hamas are also women. The U.N. estimates that the war has resulted in more than 1,100 new female-headed households.
Israel reportedly agrees to delay ground invasion
Israel has agreed to delay an expected invasion of Gaza, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
According to the paper, Israel is doing so to allow for humanitarian aid to reach civilians inside Gaza, and more time for hostage negotiations and for the United States to deploy air defense systems to protect U.S. troops in the region.
President Biden and other U.S. officials had been urging Israel to hold off on a planned ground offensive in part because of threats to U.S. troops from militant groups in the region once an invasion of the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory starts.