Israeli military pushes further into Gaza as death toll surpasses 9,000

At least 20 people have been killed in blasts at UN schools which were sheltering 20,000 people, as ITV News' John Irvine reports

  • The Israeli military says it is "deepening the operation" as tanks and soldiers move into "very significant areas of Gaza City.”

  • Two British nationals have left Gaza via the Rafah border crossing from Gaza into Egypt, the Foreign Office has said, as more than 335 people left through the crossing on Wednesday.

  • Cabinet minister Michelle Donelan says the government has a list of "around 200" Britons who remain trapped in Gaza, and that they are working to get them out.

  • Israel has taken responsibility for an airstrike which struck a refugee camp, claiming to have targeted a Hamas commander. Gaza's Health Ministry said the strike left at least 50 dead after several apartment buildings were destroyed, while the UN's high commissioner for human rights has since said the attack could amount to a war crime.

  • Gaza's Health Ministry said the Palestinian death toll has now surpassed 9,000 - most of them women and children. More than 1,400 people died in Israel during attacks by Hamas on October 7 - including 326 soldiers - according to the Israeli government.

Tanks and soldiers have moved into "very significant areas of Gaza," the Israeli military said, confirming it is "deepening the operation" in the besieged territory.

Since Friday, the Israel Defence Force (IDF) have deployed tanks, bulldozers and infantry into the Strip, particularly surrounding Gaza City in the north.

"We are making progress," Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.

"Nothing will stop us. We will move forward. We will advance and win, and we will do it with God's help and with the help of our heroic warriors.""I trust you, I believe in you. The entire nation of Israel stands behind you - until victory," he added.

It comes as the death toll in Gaza surpassed 9,000, Gaza's Healthy Ministry announced on Thursday - the majority of them women and children.

The IDF Chief of Staff, Herzi Halevi, confirmed the Israeli military is surrounding and working in "very significant areas" of Gaza City and "deepening" its operations there.

As the rocket bombardment continues and the enclave is plunged deeper into crisis, aid agencies continue to warn that critical resources are depleting rapidly.

Ground operations are escalating in the Gaza strip. Credit: IDF

Low fuel supplies have been a repeated cause of concern, particularly for hospitals that require it to power generators, but Israel has maintained that Hamas is stockpiling fuel for rockets.

Halevi confirmed that Israel has not delivered any fuel into Gaza but that it checks the situation "every day."

"When fuel runs out, fuel will be delivered under supervision to the hospitals," he said in a TV interview.

But Netanyahu said there has been no decision on fuel imports.

“We are assisting with humanitarian aid, including food, medicine and water — that exists. There has been no decision on fuel," he said.

At least 20 killed in blasts at UN schools sheltering 20,000 people, relief agency says

More than than 20 people have been killed following explosions at three UN schools in Gaza a relief agency has said, but the IDF has not yet taken responsibility for the blasts.

The UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said it received “extraordinary, difficult news” about schools in the refugee camps of Jabaliya and Al Shati.

"Over the last few hours, I received reports that three of our schools sheltering about 20,000 people have been hit," Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner general of the UNRWA told CNN.

“These are official UNWRA schools, where we shelter a number of displaced persons in the north of Gaza. These are shelters which are clearly notified,” he added.

A woman who fled the school after the blast told CNN: “The school was shelled and we started screaming: "It was an absolute horror.”

It follows Israeli attacks on the Jabaliya camp on Tuesday and Wednesday which the Gaza Health Ministry claim have left 1,000 people dead, injured or missing.

Israel said the strikes killed militants and demolished Hamas tunnels, but the UN's high commissioner for human rights has since said the attack in Jabaliya could amount to a war crime.

"We have serious concerns that these are disproportionate attacks that could amount to war crimes," a statement from the commissioner's office said on X, formerly Twitter.

Casualties on both sides are expected to rise as Israeli troops advance toward the dense residential neighborhoods of Gaza City.

Israeli officials say Hamas' military infrastructure, including tunnels, is concentrated in the city and accuse the group of hiding among civilians.

Palestinians search for survivors following Israeli airstrikes at the Jabalia refugee camp. Credit: AP

British nationals pass through Rafah crossing

Rishi Sunak said on Wednesday the UK government is continuing to work to get British citizens through the crossing, which connects Gaza and Egypt.

The border will be opened for "controlled and time-limited periods" to allow specific groups of foreign nationals and the seriously injured to leave Gaza.

The Foreign Office said more UK nationals were able to make it into Egypt on Thursday after two UK aid workers managed to flee Gaza a day earlier, but declined to say how many.

Around 200 Britons in Gaza have registered with the authorities, and along with their dependents the total number the UK is trying to secure passage for is thought to be in the low hundreds.

Palestinians with dual nationality register to cross to Egypt on the Gaza Strip. Credit: AP

At least 335 foreign passport holders left Gaza through the Rafah crossing into Egypt on Wednesday, said Wael Abu Omar, a spokesman for the Palestinian Crossings Authority.

Rishi Sunak has said the UK will continue to work closely with Egypt and Israel to ensure more British citizens can leave Gaza safely.

The PM thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for his efforts to help the first British nationals leave Gaza via the Rafah border crossing into Egypt on Wednesday.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said it has agreed, with Egyptian and Israeli authorities, a list of British nationals that want to leave Gaza.

"We’ve got Hamas there, which is not obviously the most reliable partner to deal with," said Rishi Sunak on Wednesday

Second RAF aid flight landed in Egypt bound for Gaza

The situation in the region has significantly worsened as Gaza's citizens are left with little food, water, and fuel to stay alive amid the missile strikes.

On Thursday, it was announced that a second RAF flight has arrived in Egypt carrying equipment to support aid agencies in Gaza.

A series of further flights are expected, delivering equipment including forklift trucks and lighting tower generators to the region.

The PM has been urging Israel to carry out a "humanitarian pause" of its attacks to allow aid to reach Gaza, as has US President Joe Biden, who suggested the same when asked about the conflict at a campaign event on Wednesday night.

Asked what a pause would look like, Mr Sunak said: "The situation on the ground is incredibly complex.

"We've got Hamas there, which is not obviously the most reliable partner to deal with.

"We're talking to everyone to see what is possible, because its a question of not just getting aid in, what's important to me also is being able to bring our British nationals and the hostages out of Gaza."

The White House later clarified that Mr Biden was referring to the release of 240 Hamas-held hostages.

The proscribed terrorist group took hundreds captive after a surprise attack on an Israeli music festival on October 7, where 1,400 people were executed.

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