Israel's Netanyahu rejects calls for ceasefire saying it would be a 'surrender to Hamas'

ITV News' John Irvine reports on the latest developments as fighting between Israel and Hamas continues

  • Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected calls for a ceasefire, while Gazan civilians were told to evacuate from the central and northern parts of the Strip.

  • The head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said it will struggle to operate moving forward distributing aid if there is no ceasefire.

  • New images and videos have been released by Israel of what it said shows the 'expansion' of its forces in Gaza ahead of a looming ground invasion.

  • A female Israeli soldier who had been kidnapped by Hamas has been released during ground operations in the Strip.

  • Israel said 239 hostages are being held in Gaza - four of whom have been released.

  • Gaza's Health Ministry said the Palestinian death toll has surpassed 8,300 - most of them women and children - while more than 1,400 people died in Israel during attacks by Hamas - including at least 310 soldiers - according to the Israeli government.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has rejected calls for a ceasefire saying it would be tantamount to a "surrender to Hamas," as military operations expand into Gaza.

During a news conference on Monday, Mr Netanyahu was asked if he would consider stepping down from the Israeli government following international uproar.

“The only thing that I intend to have resigned is Hamas. We’re going to resign them to the dustbin of history,” Mr Netanyahu replied. “That’s my goal. That’s my responsibility.”

"Calls for a ceasefire are calls for Israel to surrender to Hamas, to surrender to terrorism," he added.

It comes after the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) released a number of photos of what it said shows the "expansion of IDF ground operations in the Gaza Strip" on Monday.

Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, an Israeli military spokesman, confirmed military operations had been expanded, but refused to comment on specific deployments.

Footage released by the Israel Defence Forces purports to show soldiers and armour operating within the Gaza Strip

Mr Netanyahu said Israel has been trying to prevent civilian casualties by calling for civilians in Gaza to move to a safe zone in the south and providing humanitarian support. 

Israel has previously identified the south of the Strip as a safe zone, but airstrikes have since pounded these locations, putting to question the protection that the areas hold.

But new Israeli leaflets dropped on Gaza have reinstated the call for civilians to evacuate the "battlefield," warning people that the northern and central parts of the enclave offer no relief.

“Shelters in the north of the Gaza Strip and the governorate of Gaza have become unsafe,” according to the leaflet, an image of which has been seen by CNN. 

“Hamas and the terrorist organizations are using the shelters, hospitals and schools in this area. Therefore, your presence in these places is not safe,” the flyer continued.

“You must immediately evacuate and move to the humanitarian area to the south of Wadi Gaza,” the leaflet concluded, referring to a waterway that bisects Gaza.

Meanwhile, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, Philippe Lazzarini, warned that “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire has become a matter of life and death for millions,” stressing that “the present and future of Palestinians and Israelis depend on it.”

More than 3,000 children have been killed in Gaza according to the Palestinian health ministry, ITV News' Rachel Townsend reports

This video contains distressing images

During the emergency UN Security Council meeting on Monday night, he said a further breakdown of civil order - following the recent break-ins at the agency's warehouses by panicked Palestinians searching for food and other aid - will make it extremely difficult for the for the agency to continue operating.

Mr Lazzarini added that most Palestinians in Gaza “feel trapped in a war they have nothing to do with” and “they feel the world is equating all of them to Hamas.”

Israeli soldier freed from Hamas hold, while hostages make plea to Netanyahu

A female Israeli soldier, Private Ori Megidish, who had been kidnapped by Hamas on October 7 has been released during the ground operations, the IDF said on Monday.

In a statement, the military added: "The soldier was medically checked, is doing well, and has met with her family.”

Private Ori Megidish (centre) was released, the Israel Defence Forces said. Credit: IDF

Meanwhile, the proscribed terror group Hamas, which continues to hold hundreds of hostages in Gaza, released a video on Monday, purporting to show three women it is holding captive.

In the clip, one of the women directs a statement at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, saying "you were supposed to free us all". It is unclear if the woman is talking freely in the video.

The woman adds the hostages are being held by Hamas because of Mr Netanyahu's "political, security and military failures".

Tributes paid to British and German Hamas victims

The parents of a Hamas victim have paid tribute to their daughter who was found "cuddled together" with her two children, also found dead in their home.

British Lianne Sharabi, 48, and her two teenage daughters, Yahel and Noiya, were killed when militants rampaged Kibbutz Be'eri.

Yahel, 13, Lianne 48 and Noiya, 16, were snatched from their family home by Hamas. Credit: Family handout

Speaking to the BBC, Gill and Pete Brisley said Lianne "was doing what a mother would do - holding her babies in her arms."

They shared that their "wonderful" daughter had moved to Israel at the age of 19, where she met a man and built her life.

Describing her grandchildren, Mrs Brisley said Yahel had "so much energy", while Noiya was more quiet, but very affectionate, very caring and compassionate."

"We feel numb... it is what it is, we can't change it. We must get through it."

Shani Louk in a post from her Instagram. Credit: CNN / Instagram

Meanwhile, the mother of German-Israeli Shani Louk, 22, said she has been informed of her daughter's death by the Israeli military.

Ricarda Louk told German news agency dpa on Monday her daughter’s body hasn’t been found, but a part of her skull bone was located and submitted for a DNA test.

Louk believes her daughter died on October 7, when she was at a music festival in southern Israel that was attacked by Hamas terrorists.

What is the current situation in Gaza?

Israel's military says it has struck 600 targets in recent days, including weapons depots and anti-tank missile launching sites.

It comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the conflict with Hamas has entered its "second stage".

Meanwhile, an evacuation order for a Gaza City hospital - which is sheltering 14,000 people - has been described as "impossible" to carry out without endangering patient lives.

ITV News explains what a full-scale Israeli incursion could look like into the Gaza Strip as the military expanded ground operations

The WHO is among the aid agencies to issue the warning to Israel, after the Palestinian Red Crescent said it had received warnings to immediately evacuate the al-Quds hospital.

Israel's military has yet to comment on the hospital evacuation order, but say they are targeting networks of Hamas tunnels that lie underneath hospitals, schools and mosques in Gaza.

As the death toll from the conflict soars, the charity Save the Children has said the number of children killed in the Gaza Strip since October 7 has exceeded the total killed in armed conflict every year globally since 2019.

Civilians in Gaza were asked to "surrender" by Israel's military as part of a leaflet drop made on Sunday.

Written in Arabic, the leaflets told civilians to lay down all their weapons, put their hands up, wave white flags, and follow instructions from the Israeli military.

Israel - without presenting any evidence - has also continued to allege that Hamas has built underground bunkers below Gaza's largest hospital - the Shifa hospital - and accused the group of using civilians as human shields. Hamas has denied the claims.

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden's security adviser has suggested Hamas could be preventing British nationals from leaving Gaza.

Jake Sullivan said Egypt and Israel were prepared to allow foreign nationals to leave Gaza via the Rafah crossing - the only border point in the territory that is not controlled by Israel.

But he said Hamas had not agreed to terms that would grant foreigners an opportunity to depart for Egypt and reach safety.

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