An unclassified US intelligence assessment provided to Congress estimates that the death toll in the explosion at a hospital in Gaza City is “low,” between 100 and 300 dead.
That death toll “continues to reflect an appalling loss of life,” US intelligence officials said in the findings, seen by the Associated Press. Officials are still reviewing the evidence, and the estimate could increase.
Hamas-ruled Gaza authorities quickly declared that an Israeli airstrike had hit Gaza’s Al Ahli hospital on Tuesday. Israel denies involvement. US President Joe Biden and other US officials have already stated that US intelligence services believe that the explosion was not caused by an Israeli airstrike. Thursday’s conclusions are consistent with this.
The United States assessment said only “minor structural damage” was seen to the hospital itself, with no visible impact on the crater.
Defense Minister: Prepare for a ground invasion
JERUSALEM – Israel’s defense minister told ground troops to prepare to enter the Gaza Strip, although he did not say when the invasion would begin.
In a meeting with Israeli infantry soldiers on the Gaza border, Yoav Gallant asked the forces to “organize, prepare” for an order to enter.
“Anyone who sees Gaza today from afar sees it from the inside,” he said. “I promise you”.
Israel has deployed tens of thousands of troops along the border following a bloody cross-border massacre by Hamas militants on October 7.
Israel says 30 children are being held hostage
JERUSALEM – About 30 of the 200 Hamas hostages in Gaza are children, according to the Israeli military.
More than 10 are over 60 years old, according to a statement.
Authorities have no information on the whereabouts of more than 100 missing Israelis, he added.
US Navy intercepts missiles from Yemen
CAIRO – A US Navy warship shot down three missiles fired from Yemen and headed north, US officials said.
Officials said the USS Carney, a Navy destroyer, was in the Red Sea and intercepted the missiles. It is not clear if this is aimed at Israel. One of the officials said the United States does not believe the missiles were aimed at the ship.
The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the unannounced military operations.
The Iran-backed Houthi rebels have expressed support for the Palestinians and threatened Israel. Last week, in the Yemeni city of Sanaa, which is held by Houthi rebels still fighting a Saudi-led coalition, protesters filled the streets waving Yemeni and Palestinian flags. The motto of the rebels has long been: “God is greatest; death in the United States; death of Israel; curse of the Jews; victory of Islam.”
Last week, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, the rebel group’s leader, warned the United States not to intervene in the conflict between Israel and Hamas, saying his forces would retaliate by firing drones and missiles.
Humanitarian agencies want a quick response
ZUWAIDA, Gaza Strip – Oxfam is working with other humanitarian agencies to provide a rapid response when supplies start arriving in Gaza.
Najla Shawa, spokesperson for Oxfam in Gaza, said they are waiting for a ceasefire so they can provide aid to people who have seen their electricity, food, and fuel supplies cut off.
“It’s a big challenge because there’s a lot to do and we don’t have enough information about what’s coming tomorrow,” Shawa said. Authorities said the Egypt-Gaza border crossing at Rafah could open as early as Friday.
“Maybe Oxfam will focus on providing water and cash assistance if there is an explanation of what is happening.”
He said any response would take longer than usual because many aid workers had been forced from their homes.
“The whole team lost their place. “Everyone is in shelters, schools, and apartments. Nobody has electricity. … So the situation is very difficult.”
The UN will check the aid sent
CAIRO – A UN flag will be raised at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza to protect it from Israeli airstrikes, under an UN-brokered agreement between Israel and Egypt to allow aid to the Palestinian territories.
An Egyptian official and a European diplomat said UN observers would also check trucks carrying aid before they cross.
They added that the UN will monitor the aid, together with the Egyptian and Palestinian Red Crescent societies, to ensure that it is delivered to civilians and not used by Palestinian militants.
The Egyptian official said they are still negotiating with Israel about the entry of fuel into Gaza, where shortages have forced many hospitals to close.
The official and diplomat spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the media.
Israel withdrew its diplomats from Turkey
ANKARA, Turkey – Israel has withdrawn all its diplomats from Turkey for security reasons, according to two Turkish officials.
The move comes after a series of protests outside Israeli diplomatic missions in Turkey following an explosion at a Gaza hospital in which hundreds of Palestinians were killed. Some protesters tried to attack the ambassador’s residence in Ankara and a building housing the consulate in Istanbul.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to make public statements, said the diplomats, including Ambassador Irit Lillian, had already left.
They stated that the diplomats left for security reasons and that their withdrawal was not political.
Turkey and Israel recently re-established full diplomatic relations after withdrawing ambassadors in 2018 amid tensions caused by the United States’ decision to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.