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Israeli Airstrikes Pound Gaza as Calls for Cease-Fire Intensify

Palestinians evacuate survivors after an Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip in Rafah on Nov. 6, 2023.
Palestinians evacuate survivors after an Israeli strike on the Gaza Strip in Rafah on Nov. 6, 2023.

Latest developments:

  • Rocket sirens blare in several northern Israeli cities, Israeli military says.
  • Two Israeli border guards were stabbed Monday in the Old City of Jerusalem. Haaretz reports that the assailant was a 16-year-old who was shot and killed.
  • U.N. agencies and international charities have issued a rare joint statement calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza.
  • People in Gaza are using donkeys to transport their dead because their mobile communications have been suspended and they cannot call ambulances, according to the BBC.
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says there will be no cease-fire until the hostages taken by Hamas are returned.
  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a surprise visit to the Israeli-occupied West Bank. He then traveled to Turkey for talks Monday.

Israel hit Gaza with more airstrikes in its war against Hamas Monday as U.N. agencies and international charities issued a rare joint statement calling for an immediate humanitarian cease-fire as the death toll mounts.

For almost a month" the joint statement said, "the world has been watching the unfolding situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory in shock and horror at the spiraling numbers of lives lost and torn apart."

"Tens of thousands of people have been displaced," the statement said. "This is horrific."

The groups, including the WHO, UNICEF, the World Food Program, CARE International, Save the Children and Mercy Corps, noted that at least 1,400 people have been killed in Israel since Hamas's attack on October 7, and more than 200 people have been taken hostage.

"The horrific killings of even more civilians in Gaza is an outrage," the agencies said, "as is cutting off 2.2 million Palestinians from food, water, medicine, electricity and fuel."

The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said the death toll from Israeli attacks has surpassed 10,000.

Israel has rebuffed mounting international pressure for a cease-fire, saying hostages taken by Hamas militants during their rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7 should be released first. The U.S. considers Hamas a terrorist group.

Israel said its strikes on Hamas in the Gaza Strip had effectively split the Palestinian territory in two Sunday.

Israeli forces "have encircled Gaza City... Now there exists a south Gaza and a north Gaza," military spokesperson Daniel Hagari said.

Blinken's visit to region

With no end in sight to the war, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken concluded his whirlwind Middle East diplomatic tour Monday, in Turkey with tepid results in forging a regional consensus on how best to curb civilian suffering in Gaza.

Before departing from Turkey, Blinken told reporters, "we are working very aggressively on getting more humanitarian assistance into Gaza. And we have very concrete ways of doing that," and added "sometimes the absence of something bad happening may not be the most obvious evidence of progress, but it is.

In the Turkish capital, Ankara, Blinken met with Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan after stopping in Israel, Jordan, the occupied West Bank, Cyprus and Iraq — trying to build support for the Biden administration's proposal for "humanitarian pauses" to Israel's relentless military campaign in Gaza and to contain a crisis that threatens to engulf the wider region.

Meanwhile, Israel has vowed to remove Hamas from power and crush its military capabilities.

Casualties are only likely to rise as the war turns to close urban combat.

"We're closing in on them," said Lt. Col. Richard Hecht, an Israeli military spokesperson. "We've completed our encirclement, separating Hamas strongholds in the north from the south."

The military said it struck 450 targets overnight and ground troops took over a Hamas compound. A one-way corridor for residents to flee south remains available for the hundreds of thousands of Palestinians who remain in Gaza City and other parts of the north, according to the military.

CIA director to discuss conflict

Also on Sunday, a U.S. official told VOA that CIA Director William Burns is traveling to "several countries in the Middle East."

The focus of the trip includes the situation in Gaza, support for hostage negotiations and continued deterrence to prevent the Israel-Hamas conflict from growing, the U.S. official told VOA.

"The director will reinforce our commitment to intelligence cooperation, especially in areas such as counterterrorism and security," the U.S. official said.

When contacted by VOA, the Central Intelligence Agency said, "We don't comment on the director's schedule."

VOA State Department Bureau Chief Nike Ching and National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report. Some information for this article is from The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.