Israel-Hamas war live news: Gaza death toll rises as Israel steps up airstrikes | ET REALITY

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It has been more than two weeks since Hamas, the Palestinian armed group that controls Gaza, launched a terrorist attack that killed 1,400 Israelis. Since then, the Hamas-run Health Ministry has said more than 5,000 people have been killed in retaliatory attacks by Israel. It has not been possible to independently verify the death toll in Gaza.

Here’s what we know about some of the most pressing issues raised by the war and the complex negotiations underway to resolve them, including efforts to bring more aid to Gaza, remove trapped foreigners, free hostages taken in the surprise attack and keep the war from spreading.

Aid for Gaza

An aid convoy arrives in Gaza through the Rafah border crossing on Saturday.Credit…Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

After more than a week of diplomatic wrangling, an aid convoy of 20 trucks loaded with food, water and medicine arrived in Gaza from Egypt on Saturday, followed by an additional 14 trucks on Sunday and 20 on Monday. Aid workers were distributing supplies to displaced families in southern Gaza.

Aid officials say Gaza needs dozens more trucks to cross each day to meet even basic needs and begin easing the humanitarian crisis that has gripped the enclave in the two weeks since Israel declared a complete blockade of the strip.

Negotiations continue over the pace of deliveries and other issues, including the possibility of transporting fuel to Gaza. The United Nations and aid groups have urged that the fuel be delivered as quickly as possible, calling it an essential lifeline to keep hospitals, bakeries, water desalination plants and other civilian infrastructure running.

The World Health Organization said on Tuesday that medical supplies it had sent to Gaza had reached some hospitals and clinics, but because there was no guarantee of safe passage, they had not reached the largest hospitals, which are located in the north of the territory.

Hostages

A demonstration for the release of hostages in Tel Aviv last week.Credit…Amit Elkayam for The New York Times

According to the Israeli military, more than 200 people were taken hostage during the deadly October 7 attack on Israeli border communities. Among the captives are children and elderly people. Two of them, an Israeli-American mother and daughter, were freed on Friday for what Hamas described as “humanitarian reasons” after mediation by Qatar, a small Gulf nation that has ties to the militants. And two elderly Israeli women were freed on Monday.

Yocheved Lifshitz, one of those women, said her kidnappers took her through a network of tunnels (“it looked like a spider web,” she said) until they reached a large hall where about 25 people had gathered. She said doctors visited them to check on them. Lifshitz said it seemed the militants were willing to hold them for a long time.

Hamas has said the hostages are being held in “resistance safe locations and tunnels,” although it has also made unverified claims that several have been killed in Israeli airstrikes. He has also said that other groups are holding some of the hostages.

Israel’s military said on Tuesday it was asking Gaza residents to provide information about the hostages and was willing to offer protection and compensation in return.

Foreigners and dual citizenship in Gaza

People have been gathering at the Rafah crossing in hopes of leaving the Gaza Strip.Credit…Samar Abu Elouf for The New York Times

Hundreds of people with foreign passports are trapped in Gaza, and dozens gather most days near the Rafah crossing with Egypt, desperate to escape. Diplomats say little progress has been made to guarantee them safe passage. There are up to 600 Americans; 1,200 citizens of the European Union, including Sweden, Romania, France, Germany, Spain and other countries; 300 Canadians; 200 British citizens; and 45 Australians in Gaza, according to diplomats.

Some foreign nationals tried to leave through the Rafah crossing when aid trucks entered Saturday, but Hamas blocked their way, Matthew Miller, a U.S. State Department spokesman, said Monday. “We believe that Egypt is willing to prosecute American citizens if they can get before the Egyptian authorities,” he told reporters. “Hamas simply has to stop blocking the exit.”

Miller said the United States had been sending messages on the matter to Hamas through “various partners.”

A possible land invasion

Israeli soldiers cleaning the barrel of a tank on the outskirts of Be’eri, Israel, on Saturday.Credit…Sergey Ponomarev for The New York Times

Immediately after the Hamas attack, Israel began calling up army reservists and preparing to invade Gaza to try to eliminate Hamas. He began warning Gaza residents to move south for their own safety, as senior Israeli commanders began making public references to the planned assault.

However, more than two weeks later, the ground invasion has not materialized. U.S. officials say the Biden administration has advised Israel to delay an invasion to give more time for negotiations to free the hostages, for more humanitarian aid to reach the territory and for the military to carefully consider its attack plan. But some in Israel are growing frustrated by the delays.

A wider war

Israelis waiting to be evacuated from Kiryat Shmona, near the Lebanese border, on Sunday.Credit…Jalaa Marey/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Increasing clashes between Israeli forces and Hezbollah on Israel’s northern border with Lebanon, as well as Israeli attacks in Syria and the occupied West Bank, have intensified fears of a broader regional conflict. Israeli authorities have evacuated cities and towns along the Lebanese border and Lebanese civilians have begun fleeing their homes to the other side.

The United States has been working behind the scenes to urge Israel not to launch a preemptive strike against Hezbollah (which, like Hamas, is backed by Iran), fearing that Israel would struggle in a two-front war. U.S. officials are also concerned that if Israel enters Gaza, Iranian-backed militias in the region will step up attacks on U.S. interests.

Vivian Yee, Aaron Boxerman and Adam Goldman contributed with reports.

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