Israel’s military ordered hundreds of thousands of civilians living in Gaza City to evacuate Friday ahead of a feared Israel ground offensive. The directive came on the heels of what the United Nations said was a warning they received from Israel to evacuate 1.1 million people living in northern Gaza within 24 hours.
Suffering in Gaza has been rising dramatically with Palestinians desperate for food, fuel and medicine and the territory’s only power plant shut down for lack of fuel. The morgue at Gaza’s biggest hospital overflowed as bodies came in faster than relatives could claim them.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was set to visit on Friday, a day after Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in Israel to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The war has claimed at least 2,800 lives on both sides since Hamas launched an incursion on Oct. 7.
Here’s what’s happening on Day 7 of the latest Israel-Hamas war:
BEIRUT — Hezbollah legislator Hassan Fadlallah said that the deterrence between the militant group and Israel has been maintained since a monthlong war in 2006 that ended in a draw, despite clashes over the past week.
Fadlallah’s comments came minutes after Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian held separate meetings with Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati and key ally Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah.
Lebanon’s caretaker Information Minister Ziad Makari said the Lebanese government is committed to supporting the Palestinians in Gaza but maintaining calm along the southern border with Israel to avoid a new war.
“At the same time, the government will study the possibility of being ready for — God forbid — a deterioration of the situation,” Makari said.
Hezbollah and Israel have exchanged shelling since Hamas’ surprise attack on Israel almost one week ago, but the clashes have remained limited and contained thus far.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — The main synagogue in Copenhagen canceled Friday’s planned open-doors event that is part of the annual Culture Night where museums, government agencies, associations and shops are open all evening, saying “in the current situation, we will unfortunately have to prioritize the tasks differently. We hope for your understanding.”
In a separate statement, the synagogue said it would hold “a solemnity for the victims of terror in Israel” on Saturday. Denmark’s Queen Margrethe is scheduled to participate. The service also will include speeches by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen, among others.
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian police banned a Palestinian solidarity demonstration planned for Friday in the capital, Budapest, saying it “would directly endanger public safety and public order.”
In a post on Facebook, the Budapest Police Headquarters said that participation in the rally, which aimed to bring together supporters of Palestine to “stand with Gaza and its brave people,” would result in “sanctions.”
Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said in an interview with state radio that there were “sympathy protests with terrorists” across Europe, but that his government would not allow any pro-Palestinian demonstrations.
KFAR KILA, Lebanon — An eerie quiet prevailed Friday in south Lebanon and northern Israel in the wake of Israel’s call for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Gaza City ahead of an expected ground invasion. Many analysts believe a ground invasion could be the catalyst for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, a Hamas ally with a much larger arsenal, to enter the war.
The Lebanese army had beefed up its troops at the Lebanese-Israeli border on Friday as Hamas and Hezbollah called for rallies in many cities in Lebanon. Military vehicles patrolled near the separation wall in the Kfar Kila border town and many new checkpoints were erected on the roads leading to the border with Israel.
The Israeli town of Metula appeared like ghost town from the Lebanese side, with no civilians in the streets while some Israeli army units appeared to be methodically searching the houses.
JERUSALEM — The Israeli Foreign Ministry says an employee at its embassy in Beijing has been attacked and is now hospitalized.
There were few details regarding the attack in the Chinese capital. In a message sent to journalists, the ministry said its officials were trying to confirm the details of the attack.
China did not immediately acknowledge the attack.
Israel has been critical of China’s initial government statement following Hamas’ unprecedented Oct. 7 attack on Israel.
BEIRUT — Iran’s foreign minister says the aim of his visit to Beirut is to preserve security in Lebanon amid regional tensions.
Hossein Amirabdollahian called in comments after meeting caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Beirut for leaders of the region to hold a meeting in order to discuss the situation.
He warned that the violence in Gaza could spread to the region if Israel does not stop “the destructive war against the Gaza Strip.” He added that what Hamas did over the weekend was in response to the policies of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
JERUSALEM — The United Nations Palestinian refugee agency known as UNRWA has transferred only its international staff to its compound in southern Gaza.
Juliette Touma, a spokesperson for the agency, said that UNRWA was not aware of any evacuation plans for its thousands of Palestinian staff members and their families in Gaza. She said that local UNRWA workers were making their own decisions about whether to stay in their homes in Gaza City, transfer to the U.N. compound in the south, or flee elsewhere within the Gaza Strip.
UNRWA also said it was not evacuating its dozens of schools-turned-shelters, home to hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians across the territory.
UNRWA provides basic services and funding to 1.3 million people registered as Palestinian refugees in the Gaza Strip
JERUSALEM — Confrontations across the West Bank continued into late Thursday night, with Palestinian health officials reporting three Palestinians had been killed overnight. That brings the total number of Palestinians killed in the West Bank up to 35 in the seven days since the start of the latest Israel-Hamas war, with 650 Palestinians wounded in that time.
The highest ever monthly total for West Bank deaths since the U.N. started recording in 2005 is 47.
Overnight, Israeli forces arrested at least 26 Palestinians in a large-scale detention raid in southern region of the volatile territory, Palestinian state media reported. Israeli authorities did not immediately respond to request for confirmation.
The area has seen violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli forces. Israeli authorities have sealed off the territory, closing crossings and checkpoints between cities.
COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said Friday that she is “deeply concerned about the dramatic escalation in Israel and Gaza.”
Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said that the Israeli demand that civilians in northern Gaza relocate to its south within 24 hours “must be reversed” and is “absent of any guarantees of safety or return, would amount to the war crime of forcible transfer.”
In neighboring Sweden, Foreign Minister Tobias Billström called the situation in Israel and Palestine “difficult and unpredictable and the effort has been complex.” He spoke as a chartered plane that took off from Tel Aviv with 143 people — Swedish nationals with their families — landed in Stockholm late Thursday. Efforts were ongoing to assist Swedes who are still in the area and who wish to leave, he said.
BAGHDAD — Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered Friday in Tahrir Square in the center of Baghdad to show support for Palestinians and protest the Israeli bombardment of Gaza in the wake of the deadly surprise attack launched in southern Israel by the militant group Hamas on Oct. 7.
The protest was called by influential Shiite cleric and political leader Muqtada al-Sadr. Similar protests are expected in Lebanon, Syria and other Arab countries following afternoon prayers Friday.
The protests come as Israel appears to be gearing up for a ground offensive in Gaza. Israel’s military delivered sweeping evacuation orders for almost half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people Friday, according to U.N. agencies.
BEIRUT — Iran’s foreign minister discussed the volatile situation in the Middle East with the leader of the militant Hezbollah group.
A Hezbollah statement said Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian and Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah met in Beirut early Friday to discuss “the Israeli aggression on Gaza and the brutal crimes committed against its people.”
There have been concerns that the Iran-backed and heavily-armed Hezbollah might join the war with Israel. Sporadic acts of violence have been reported over the past days along the tense Lebanon-Israel border.
Amirabdollahian was in Iraq on Thursday before coming to Lebanon, and he’s scheduled to head to Syria later Friday.
BERLIN – Germany’s foreign minister is heading to Israel on a visit meant to show her country’s solidarity.
During the visit Friday, Annalena Baerbock is expected to discuss how Germany can support Israel, as well as the fate of hostages taken by Hamas the previous weekend — among them several German-Israeli dual citizens. Baerbock said in a statement that “Hamas brings people nothing but suffering and death, in Israel and in Gaza.”
About 950 German citizens and their relatives left Israel Thursday on special Lufthansa flights to Germany and a ferry to Cyprus. More flights are planned Friday. As a precaution in case the situation worsens, Germany is preparing possible evacuations by its military.
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Hamas says Israel’s heavy bombardment of the Gaza Strip has killed 13 hostages, including foreigners, held by the group.
Hamas’ military wing said in a statement Friday that the 13 were killed in various locations over the past 24 hours. It did not give the nationalities of the foreigners. There has been no confirmation from Israel.
CAIRO — Egypt has taken “unprecedented measures” to prevent a breach to its borders with Gaza, a senior Egyptian security official said Friday, calling Israel’s potential ground invasion of the territory a “grave mistake.”
The official said they have beefed up security along the borders with Gaza by deploying thousands of security forces. He said Egypt is working “around the clock” with Israel’s allies, including the U.S. and European governments, to prevent such a ground invasion, and eventually stop the war.
He said they have proposed establishing “safe zones” inside Gaza and allow the delivery of aid through Rafah crossing point. Though they have received support from some Western officials, including the EU chief diplomat, Israel has yet to respond to the proposal, he said.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief journalists.
JERUSALEM — The United Nations opened an appeal Friday for $294 million that it says it needs to aid and protect 1.2 million Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank. The U.N. said it hopes to deliver the relief funds to dozens of partners in the Palestinian territories, including U.N. agencies now struggling to provide basic services to over a million people in Gaza as Israeli attacks on the enclave intensify, along with several aid groups including the Palestinian Red Crescent.
JAKARTA, Indonesia — As violence and tensions increase in the Gaza Strip with Israeli airstrikes after an unprecedented attack by Hamas, Islamic leaders in Indonesia — the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation — appealed to all mosques across the country to pray for peace and safety for the Palestinian people.
In a sermon at Abu Bakar Al Shidiq, one of the most conservative mosques in Jakarta, a cleric called during Friday prayers to help the Muslims in Palestine. “Prayer is a weapon for devout Muslims,” he said.
JERUSALEM — Hamas called on Palestinians to stay in their homes Friday after Israel issued sweeping evacuation orders in Gaza.
The Hamas Authority for Refugee Affairs told residents of the north of the territory to “remain steadfast in your homes and to stand firm in the face of this disgusting psychological war waged by the occupation.”
Israel has ordered the evacuation of northern Gaza, including Gaza City, which is home to hundreds of thousands of people. Palestinians would only be able to flee south within Gaza — a narrow strip of land about 40 kilometers (25) miles long — as Israel has completely sealed off the territory.
JERUSALEM — The Israeli military says it will operate with “significant force” in Gaza in the coming days and is calling on civilians to evacuate in the sealed-off territory so it can strike Hamas militants, a spokesperson said Friday.
He made the remarks as half of Gaza’s 2.3 million Palestinians tried to make sense of orders to evacuate south within the narrow coastal territory, which is just 40 kilometers (25) miles long. The unprecedented orders include Gaza City, home to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.
Jonathan Conricus, a military spokesperson, said that the military “will make extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians.”
“Out of an understanding that there are civilians here who are not our enemy and we do not want to target them, we are asking them to evacuate,” he said.
CAIRO — Half an hour after a massive evacuation order was called in Gaza, veteran Egyptian politician Mustafa Bakri accused Israel of trying to drive Palestinians into Egypt.
“It seems that this warning foretells the imminent ground aggression and forced displacement of the people of the Gaza Strip towards the border with Egypt, so that they can eliminate the dream of establishing a Palestinian state,” Bakri said on the social media platform X, formerly Twitter.
Cash-strapped Egypt fears a mass influx of migrants on its eastern border. It has called for international aid to be funneled through its Rafah crossing with Gaza.
JERUSALEM — Israel’s military on Friday ordered the evacuation of northern Gaza, a region that is home to 1.1 million people, within 24 hours, a United Nations spokesperson said.
The order, delivered to the U.N., comes as Israel presses an offensive against Hamas militants. U.N. spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said the evacuation would be “impossible” without “devastating humanitarian consequences.”
This could signal an impending ground offensive, though the Israeli military has not yet confirmed such an appeal. On Thursday, it said that while it was preparing, a decision had not yet been made.