Israel says it has 'surrounded Gaza City' as US Secretary Blinken holds talks in Tel Aviv

ITV News' Graham Stothard reports on the latest developments as fighting between Israel and Hamas continues

  • Israel said its forces encircled Gaza City on Thursday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his troops are advancing and 'nothing will stop us' in the Gaza Strip.

  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held talks with Mr Netanyahu on Friday, after flying into the Middle East.

  • Some 200 British nationals are trying to secure entry into Egypt from Gaza, after the Rafah border crossing opened earlier this week.

  • 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.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has called for a humanitarian pause in Gaza during talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Mr Blinken flew into the Middle East on Friday morning - his second trip to the region since Hamas militants killed more than 1,400 people in attacks in southern Israel on October 7.

His visit comes after the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it had encircled Gaza City - where Tel Aviv has claimed proscribed terror group Hamas' military infrastructure is largely focused.

Tensions, meanwhile, are continuing to escalate on Israel's northern border with Lebanon ahead of a planned speech by the group's leader on Friday.

The US secretary of state is using the trip to focus on getting humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip and to prevent fighting between Israel and Hamas from spilling over into a wider regional conflict.

Israel has previously ruled out a ceasefire, with Mr Netanyahu saying on Thursday: "We are advancing… Nothing will stop us."

The US pledged unwavering support for Israel before Mr Blinken left the US, who himself reiterated American backing "for Israel's right to defend itself".

It comes as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians remain in Gaza City - many of whom are sheltering in United Nations (UN) facilities - after Israel said it had completely surrounded the city.

The Gaza Health Ministry says more than 9,200 Palestinians have died since fighting broke out in October - including more than 3,800 children.

Antony Blinken called for a humanitarian pause in Gaza during his meeting with the Israeli PM. Credit: AP

In recent days, several hundred injured Palestinians and foreign passport holders have been able to arrive in Egypt from Gaza via the Rafah border crossing.

The Foreign Office said on Thursday that more British nationals had been able use the crossing - but declined to say how many - after two UK aid workers fled Gaza a day earlier.

Around 200 Britons in Gaza have registered with authorities to secure passage into Egypt. Of these around 100 have been named on the list of approved departures for Friday.

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has shared the “deep personal relief” felt by his family as he confirmed his in-laws have managed to leave Gaza.

Elizabeth and Maged El-Nakla, the parents of Mr Yousaf’s wife Nadia, were named among 92 British nationals permitted to pass through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt on Friday morning.

Dr Abdel Hammad, a doctor from Liverpool who was training medics in Gaza, became one of the first British nationals to escape the territory on Thursday.

Dr Abdel Hammad told ITV News of his mixed emotions at being one of the first British nationals to make it out of Gaza

Speaking to ITV News, he described how he was torn about leaving, calling it a "big relief" but also "heartbreaking".

Asked how he was feeling, he said: "I mean a big relief really just to be out and safe. So my family I think they have been through a lot during the past four weeks and I'm pleased that I made it and I'm out from Gaza.

"On the other hand, I mean the sentiments from the people there when we left as internationals they said to us 'are you leaving us?' and 'are you abandoning us?' And that was heartbreaking in a way."

On Friday, Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, will make his first public comments since Hamas' attack in southern Israel, fueling fears that Hezbollah could cause the conflict to spill over regionally.

His speech will be on behalf of the Iranian-backed groups across four countries, the so-called "Axis of Resistance": Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

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