“Israel-Hamas Conflict: Netanyahu Declares ‘No Ceasefire in Gaza,’ IDF Initiates Hostage Rescue Operation”

“The IDF’s Operation Advances Deeper into Gaza to Rescue Hostages Seized by Hamas, Despite Netanyahu’s Refusal to Consider a Ceasefire.”

sraeli ground forces made significant advancements into Gaza on Monday, using tanks and armored vehicles to reach the main city and successfully rescue a soldier held captive by Hamas militants. Despite international calls for a ceasefire, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected them, and airstrikes continued near hospitals where thousands of Palestinians sought shelter alongside the wounded.

The Israeli military reported the rescue of Pvt. Ori Megidish, a 19-year-old soldier who was captured during Hamas’ incursion on October 7. While details about the operation were limited, military officials stated that she was “doing well” and had been reunited with her family. Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed her return, emphasizing Israel’s commitment to freeing all hostages. He firmly opposed calls for a ceasefire, characterizing them as demands for Israel to surrender to Hamas, and expressed his determination to continue the ongoing and challenging conflict.

Netanyahu, despite facing increasing criticism over the security lapse leading to the surprise attack on Israel, confirmed that he had no intentions of resigning. There are believed to be approximately 240 captives, including men, women, and children held by Hamas and other militant groups, which has put mounting pressure on the Israeli government to secure their release while trying to defeat Hamas and end its 16-year rule in the region.

Hamas, which has already released four hostages, has indicated that it would consider releasing the remaining captives in exchange for the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, including those implicated in deadly attacks on Israelis. Israel has rejected this offer, with Prime Minister Netanyahu suggesting that the ongoing ground invasion creates a possibility of securing the hostages’ release, emphasizing that Hamas may do so only under pressure.

Hamas also released a brief video on Monday, purportedly showing three other female captives. One of the women delivers a statement, likely under duress, criticizing Israel’s response to the hostage crisis. The exact timing of the video’s production was unclear. The Associated Press typically refrains from reporting specific details of hostage videos due to concerns about individuals speaking under duress and their potential use for propaganda purposes.

Amos Aloni, whose daughter Danielle appeared in the video, expressed his shock upon seeing her on TV but also felt relief at the confirmation of her being alive. The Israeli military has been relatively vague about its operations within Gaza, including troop locations and numbers. While Israel has declared a new phase in the conflict, it has not officially declared a full-scale ground invasion.

Significant ground operations have been initiated both to the north and east of Gaza City. Israel believes that many of Hamas’ forces and a substantial portion of its militant infrastructure, such as hundreds of miles of tunnels, are located within Gaza City. It’s important to note that before the war, Gaza City had a population of over 650,000 people, which is comparable to the population of Washington, D.C. Despite Israeli orders for Palestinians to evacuate the northern areas, where Gaza City is situated, hundreds of thousands have chosen to remain, partly due to Israeli airstrikes occurring in designated safe zones.

Around 117,000 displaced individuals seeking safety from airstrikes are currently sheltering in hospitals in northern Gaza, alongside thousands of patients and medical staff, according to U.N. figures. UNRWA, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, reports that nearly 672,000 Palestinians are taking refuge in its schools and other facilities across Gaza, which are now operating at four times their intended capacity.

UNRWA head Philippe Lazzarini has accused Israel of implementing “collective punishment” against the Palestinians and forcing their displacement from northern Gaza to the southern region, where they still face risks.

The death toll among Palestinians has surpassed 8,300, with the majority being women and children, as reported by the Gaza Health Ministry on Monday. This figure is unprecedented in decades of Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Over 1.4 million people in Gaza have been displaced from their homes.

On the Israeli side, over 1,400 people have lost their lives, primarily civilians, during Hamas’ initial attack, marking an unprecedented casualty count. Lazzarini stated that 64 UNRWA staff members have been killed in the past three weeks, including an agency security official, his wife, and eight children just two hours before he addressed an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting.

Many Gazans “feel trapped in a war they have nothing to do with” and believe the world is equating all of them with Hamas, Lazzarini told the Security Council. Video footage circulated on social media showed an Israeli tank and bulldozer in central Gaza blocking the main north-south highway. The video captured a car approaching an earth barrier on the road, stopping, and turning around. As the car drove away, a tank appeared to open fire, resulting in an explosion engulfing the vehicle. The Gaza Health Ministry later reported three casualties in the car that was struck. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, did not provide details about Israeli force locations but stated that additional infantry and armored units, engineering teams, and artillery units had entered Gaza, with operations set to “expand and intensify.”

The military reported that its forces have eliminated numerous militants who launched attacks from within buildings and tunnels. They have also conducted strikes on more than 600 militant targets over the past few days, including weapons storage facilities and positions for launching anti-tank missiles. Palestinian militants have continued to fire rockets into Israel, even targeting Tel Aviv, the country’s commercial hub.

Hamas claimed that its fighters engaged with Israeli troops who entered the northwest, but it’s challenging to independently verify claims from either side. Meanwhile, overcrowded hospitals in northern Gaza faced increasing threats. Gaza’s Health Ministry shared video footage showing an explosion and a column of smoke near the Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, which provides care for cancer patients. The hospital’s director, Dr. Sobhi Skaik, reported damage from a strike that put patients at risk.

In response to the evacuation orders, all 10 hospitals in northern Gaza have been instructed to evacuate by the U.N.’s office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs. However, the hospital staff has chosen not to leave, as they believe that evacuating would endanger the lives of patients who are reliant on ventilators for survival.

Al Quds Hospital, in particular, was struck in close proximity, within 50 meters, following two evacuation orders from Israeli authorities on Sunday. This incident resulted in damage to the facility, with blown-out windows and debris in the rooms. The hospital is currently providing shelter to approximately 14,000 people.

Israel asserts that it targets Hamas fighters and their infrastructure, and it contends that these militants operate among civilians, placing them at risk. Besides the ongoing conflict, living conditions for civilians in Gaza are steadily deteriorating.

In the absence of a central power source for weeks and a severe shortage of fuel, hospitals are facing immense challenges in maintaining emergency generators to power essential equipment like incubators. UNRWA has been making efforts to ensure that water pumps and bakeries continue to function.

On Sunday, the largest humanitarian aid convoy to date, consisting of 33 trucks, entered Gaza from Egypt, and an additional 26 trucks entered on Monday. However, relief workers emphasize that this aid is still far from meeting the needs of the 2.3 million people in the region.

There are growing concerns that the violence could spread across the region, with daily skirmishes between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah along Israel’s northern border.

Hamas is considered a terrorist organization by several countries, including the United States, Israel, the European Union, and others. It’s important to note that the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization is a matter of official policy by these governments.

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