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Biden to visit Israel as Gaza war sparks humanitarian crisis

Palestinians in besieged Gaza crowded into hospitals and schools on Monday, seeking shelter and running low on food and water. More than a million people have fled their homes ahead of an expected Israeli ground invasion aimed at destroying Hamas after its fighters attacked southern Israel.

U.S. and international mediators close to reaching deal that would allow humanitarian aid into Gaza

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The latest:

  • U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Rafah crossing will reopen to allow humanitarian aid in.
  • Reserves of fuel at all hospitals across the Gaza Strip are expected to last only around 24 more hours, UN says

Palestinians in besieged Gaza crowded into hospitals and schools on Monday, seeking shelter and running low on food and water. More than a million people have fled their homes ahead of an expected Israeli ground invasion aimed at destroying Hamas after its fighters attacked southern Israel.

Much of Hamas' military infrastructure is concealed in urban areas, where street-by-street fighting would likely cause mounting casualties on both sides. Israel has given no timetable for a ground incursion.

All eyes were on the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt, where the U.S. and international mediators appeared close to reaching a deal for a humanitarian cease-fire that would allow aid in and allow foreigners to exit Gaza. Rafah was shut down nearly a week ago because of Israeli airstrikes.

Late Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the Egyptian-controlled border crossing into Gaza was expected to reopen. But on Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said there was no cease-fire "at the moment."

The enclave's food, water and medicine supplies are dwindling. Hospitals say they are on the verge of collapse and unable to heed Israeli demands to evacuate patients. More than a week of devastating Israeli airstrikes have demolished entire neighbourhoods but failed to stem militant rocket fire into Israel.

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The Gaza Health Ministry said 2,670 Palestinians have been killed and 9,600 wounded since the fighting erupted, more than in the 2014 Gaza war, which lasted over six weeks. That makes this the deadliest of the five Gaza wars for both sides.

More than 1,400 Israelis have died, the vast majority civilians killed in Hamas' Oct. 7 assault. At least 155 others, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to Israel. It's the deadliest war for Israel since the 1973 conflict with Egypt and Syria.

Israel has ordered more than 1 million Palestinians – almost half the territory's population – to move to Gaza's south. The military says it is trying to clear away civilians ahead of a major campaign against Hamas in the north, where it says the militants have extensive networks of tunnels and rocket launchers.

Hamas has urged people to stay in their homes, and the Israeli military on Sunday released photos it said showed a Hamas roadblock preventing traffic from moving south.

WATCH | More than 600,000 people have fled northern Gaza:

Fears of a wider Middle Eastern conflict grow

5 hours ago

Duration 2:00

Featured VideoFears of other actors joining the Hamas-Israel conflict grow as the U.S. sends more warships to the Eastern Mediterranean — meant deter to Iran and Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

For a third day, Israel's military announced a safe corridor for people to move from north to south between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon. It said more than 600,000 people have already evacuated the Gaza City area.

Hospitals in Gaza are expected to run out of generator fuel in the next 24 hours, endangering the lives of thousands of patients, according to the UN. Gaza's sole power plant shut down for lack of fuel after Israel completely sealed off the 40-kilometre long territory following the Hamas attack.

The World Health Organization said hospitals are "overflowing" as people seek safety. "We are concerned about disease outbreaks due to mass displacement and poor water and sanitation," it said. Four hospitals in northern Gaza are no longer functioning and 21 have received Israeli orders to evacuate. Doctors have refused, saying it would mean death for critically ill patients and newborns on ventilators.

Israel's decision to cut off water supplies, combined with a lack of fuel for pumps and desalination stations, has caused shortages, putting 3,500 patients in 35 hospitals across Gaza at risk.

The UN health agency said life-saving assistance for 300,000 patients is currently awaiting entry through Rafah.

'Gaza is running dry'

About 500,000 people, nearly one quarter of Gaza's population, were taking refuge in UN-run schools and other facilities across the territory, where water supplies were dwindling, said Juliette Touma, spokesperson for the UN's Palestinian refugee agency. "Gaza is running dry," she said. The agency said an estimated 1 million people have been displaced in Gaza in a single week.

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Meanwhile, the Israeli military ordered residents to evacuate 28 communities near the Lebanese border after increasing cross-border fire between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. The military order affects towns that are within two kilometres from the border.

Hezbollah militants fired rockets and an anti-tank missile on Sunday, and Israel responding with airstrikes and shelling. The fighting killed at least one person on the Israeli side and wounded several on both sides of the border.

Hezbollah said it had fired rockets toward an Israeli military position in retaliation for Israeli shelling that killed Reuters videographer Issam Abdallah on Friday and two Lebanese civilians on Saturday. It said the increased strikes represented a "warning" and did not mean Hezbollah has decided to enter the war.

WATCH | Canadians trapped in Gaza have no way out:

600,000 people have fled northern Gaza, Israel says

5 hours ago

Duration 4:03

Featured VideoIsrael says 600,000 people have heeded its warnings and fled south, as Israeli families of hostages taken by Hamas get assurances that their rescue remains a priority.

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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