Israel-Hamas fighting rages and Gaza humanitarian crisis worsens as war passes two-month mark

Aid agencies are warning that the situation inside Gaza is now 'a catastrophe for civilians', as ITV News Senior International Correspondent John Irvine reports

  • The IDF said it is has breached Hamas "defence lines" in Gaza's southern city of Khan Younis.

  • UN Secretary-General António Guterres invoked a rule to refer the situation in Gaza to the UN Security Council, urging members to "avert a humanitarian catastrophe."

  • The death toll in Gaza has now surpassed 16,000, the Hamas-run health ministry said, with 70% reported to be women and children.

  • At least 130 hostages are still being held by Hamas in the enclave, as the families of the captives continue to call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for help in their recovery.

Intense fighting continues to rage in Gaza as the two-month mark passes since Israel declared war on the enclave following Hamas' October 7 attack.

The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) has been targeting the Jabalia refugee camp in the north of the territory over the past few days, claiming that Hamas are using it as a base.

In the early hours of Wednesday, airstrikes killed more than 100 people in heavy bombardments of multiple residential buildings, the UN says.

It's one of the two focal points from the IDF, which says it has also breached Hamas "defence lines" in Gaza's second-largest city, Khan Younis, after it widened its air and ground offensive in the southern part of the territory.

Daniel Hagari, the IDF spokesperson, said soldiers have been "fighting with high intensity" and have begun carrying out raids against "Hamas strongholds".

Within a few hours after IDF forces surrounded the city, “the soldiers pierced through the defensive lines of the Khan Younis Brigade, encircling it and for the first time began to operate in the heart of the area,” he added.  

Since the ceasefire came to an end last week, tens of thousands more Palestinians have been displaced and humanitarian conditions have worsened.

The US is putting pressure on Israel to end the war within a month, ITV News US Correspondent Dan Rivers reports

Meanwhile, Jews across the world will begin celebrations of Hanukkah on Thursday night, to mark the start of the eight-day festival.

But the global mood is grief-filled and parties are being cancelled or toned down as Hamas continues to hold at least 130 Israeli hostages in Gaza.

UN chief warns of humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the fast-deteriorating humanitarian system now risks a total collapse and has urged the Security Council to intervene.

He reiterated his urgent call for a humanitarian ceasefire and warned that Israel's bombardment of Palestinians in Gaza, who have no shelter or essentials to survive, will soon lead to a complete breakdown of public order.

Mr Guterres wrote to the 15-member Security Council under Article 99 of the UN Charter for the first time since he took the helm of the 193-member world body in 2017.

It allows the secretary-general to bring to the council's attention any matter that he believes threatens international peace and security.

Guterres said the desperate conditions in Gaza and the breakdown of public order will make humanitarian assistance impossible.

He warned that “an even worse situation could unfold, including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into neighboring countries.”

“The international community has a responsibility to use all its influence to prevent further escalation and end this crisis,” Mr Guterres said.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen condemned the move by Mr Guterres and said it "constitutes support of the Hamas terrorist organization and an endorsement of the murder of the elderly, the abduction of babies and the rape of women.”

“Anyone who supports world peace must support the liberation of Gaza from Hamas,” Cohen wrote in a statement on X.

Many Palestinians have spent at least one day without food since the conflict began. Credit: AP

World Food Programme: 'Everyone in Gaza is hungry'

World Food Programme (WFP) Chief Cindy McCain is warning of the limited access to food and water in the Gaza strip.

"The humanitarian system is collapsing. Everyone in Gaza is hungry," she said in a statement posted on X. WFP said 97% of Palestinian households in the northern areas of the strip and 83% in the south reported inadequate food consumption.

The lack of cooking fuel in Gaza has also led many to rely on waste burning, which could lead to health problems, according to WFP's data. 

Grant Shapps will visit the Middle East this week Credit: Yui Mok/PA

Defence minister Grant Shapps to visit Middle East to push for Gaza aid

UK Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has travelled to Israel and the occupied West Bank in a push for humanitarian aid to be delivered to Gaza.

Hamas want to 'murder every single Israeli and Jewish citizen', Shapps says

The government said Shapps plans to discuss the possibility of delivering aid by sea and also the progress on recovering Hamas hostages.

In a press release, the government said: "The trip will see him discuss options with leaders to provide civilians in Gaza with more aid and how the UK can support the Palestinian Authority, as well as efforts to prevent further escalation in the Middle East."

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…