Israel keeps the pressure on Gaza as Qatar confirms truce talks
The Israeli army has continued to pound areas across the Gaza Strip to devastating effect as Qatar has confirmed that talks are once more under way to evaluate if a new truce can be reached.
“Qatar affirmed its ongoing diplomatic efforts to renew the humanitarian pause and expressed hope for building upon the progress made to accomplish a comprehensive and sustainable agreement that would end the war, stop the bloodshed of our Palestinian brethren, and lead to serious negotiations and the launch of a political process that yields a comprehensive, permanent, and just peace in accordance with international resolutions and the Arab Peace Initiative,” the ministry said in a statement.
The Israeli ground, air and naval forces launched attacks on the besieged enclave on Saturday, leaving many dozens dead. At least 18,787 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7, after Hamas launched an attack inside Israel killing about 1,200 people.
Attacks on Saturday heavily targeted Khan Younis in the south, where thousands have been forced to flee, as Israel has expanded its ground military presence in the north and towards the south.
Al Jazeera journalists Samer Abudaqa and Wael Dahdouh were covering the aftermath of an Israeli bombing of a school in Khan Younis on Friday when they were targeted by a drone strike.
Cameraman Abudaqa died after paramedics were prevented from reaching him for hours, and Gaza bureau chief Dahdouh walked to a hospital after suffering injuries from shrapnel.
Abudaqa was the 13th Al Jazeera journalist killed since the founding of the news network, and one of at least 57 Palestinian journalists killed while covering the war on Gaza.
The Israeli army said on Saturday it raided two schools in Gaza City, in the north of the Strip, claiming it killed 25 fighters and captured 50 more.
Since the war started, the military has repeatedly legitimised attacks on civilian infrastructure, including United Nations-run schools and hospitals, to target Hamas fighters.
However, reports from the ground show that scores of civilians have been killed in most of these strikes. Earlier on Saturday, several Palestinians were killed and injured in an Israeli attack targeting the vicinity of the al-Mazraa School run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in Deir el-Balah, central Gaza Strip.
No significant progress has been made on stopping the war – even temporarily – since last month, when Israel pulled back its Mossad negotiators from Doha after an agreement with Hamas could not be reached through Qatari mediation.
Reports on Saturday suggested Israel may be looking to revive the talks that had earlier led to a week-long truce and the exchange of dozens of captives held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
This comes after Israel admitted to mistakenly killing three of its captives held inside Gaza who were initially believed to be fighters. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been under increasing pressure from the families of the people held in Gaza to secure their release.
Another large demonstration was held in Tel Aviv on Friday to demand the release of captives.