Benjamin Netanyahu is resolute in his position that Israel will not consider a temporary ceasefire with Hamas until more than 240 hostages are released. On the other hand, Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah believes that Hamas’ offensive on October 7 is ‘100% Palestinian’. In the midst of the ongoing chaos, there is a positive development as the U.N. aid chief reports progress in negotiations, which could potentially enable the much-awaited delivery of fuel to Gaza for the first time since the conflict began.

By Nidal Al-Mughrabi, Simon Lewis, Maytaal Angel

The leader of Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group warned the United States on Friday that if Israel did not stop its assault on Gaza then the conflict could widen into a regional war.

Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, in his first speech since the Israel-Hamas war erupted on Oct. 7, also threatened the U.S., Israel’s main ally, hinting his Iran-backed paramilitary group was ready to confront U.S. warships in the Mediterranean.

A heavily armed military force and ally of Palestinian Hamas militants, Hezbollah has been engaging Israeli forces along the Lebanon-Israel border in the deadliest escalation since it fought a war with Israel in 2006.

“We are ready for all possibilities,” Nasrallah said in a televised speech. “Whoever wants to prevent a regional war, and I am talking to the Americans, must quickly halt the aggression on Gaza.”

He added Hezbollah did not fear the U.S. naval firepower Washington has assembled in the region since the crisis erupted.

“You, the Americans, know very well that if war breaks out in the region, your fleets will be of no use, nor will fighting from the air be of any benefit, and the one who will pay the price will be … your interests, your soldiers and your fleets,” he said.

Nasrallah said that further escalation along the Lebanese border between Israel and his group was contingent on what happened in the Gaza Strip, under assault by Israeli forces since Hamas attacked Israel four weeks ago.

In Washington, a spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said it was aware of Nasrallah’s speech but would not engage in “a war of words”. Hezbollah and other state and non-state actors should not try to take advantage of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, the spokesperson said.

Nasrallah’s remarks coincided with a visit to Israel by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, on his second tour of the region in less than a month to show support for close ally Israel in its confrontation with Hamas.

Israel has vowed to wipe out Hamas, which rules Gaza, in retaliation for the Oct. 7 attack in which the militant group killed 1,400 people and took more than 240 people hostage.

Israel has struck Gaza from the air, imposed a siege and launched a ground assault, stirring global alarm at humanitarian conditions in the enclave, with food scarce, medical services collapsing and a civilian death toll that has surpassed 9,000.

Blinken told reporters after meeting Israeli leaders the U.S. was determined that there not be a second or third front in the conflict. He also appealed to Israel to take steps to protect civilians in Gaza.

The Israeli military said its troops were fighting Hamas militants in close-quarter combat in the ruined streets after encircling Gaza City in their bid to wipe out the Islamist group that controls the small, densely populated territory.

Washington has dismissed calls from Arab nations and several others for a full ceasefire in the war but wants more temporary and local pauses in fighting to allow aid to get in and for hostages taken by Hamas to leave.

Food, fuel, water and medicine are running out in Gaza, buildings have been flattened and thousands of people have fled their homes to escape relentless bombing.

Aid agencies have warned that a humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in the bloodiest episode in decades in the long-running Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Blinken also spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for almost an hour before both met with members of Israel’s emergency cabinet, formed after the Hamas assault.

Netanyahu said later that Israel would not agree to any temporary ceasefire until the hostages seized by Hamas are released.

Gaza health authorities say at least 9,227 people have been killed since Israel started its blitz on the enclave of 2.3 million people in retaliation for the Hamas rampage in southern Israel.


The Israeli military said its troops and tanks were encountering mines and booby traps as they advanced in Gaza. Hamas fighters were making use of a vast underground tunnel network to stage hit-and-run attacks.

Gaza City – traditionally a Hamas bastion – was surrounded, military spokesperson Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said.

Another spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht, said they were in a complex urban battle. “It’s very, very close quarter combat between our troops and Hamas operatives.”

Israel said it has lost 23 soldiers in the offensive.

Hamas and its Islamic Jihad ally said their fighters had detonated explosives against advancing troops, dropped grenades from drones, and fired mortars and anti-tank rockets in fierce urban warfare around destroyed buildings and heaps of rubble.

In one Israeli airstrike in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, a local journalist working for the official Palestine TV and at least nine of his immediate family were killed in their house, relatives and health officials said.

The Rafah crossing from Gaza to Egypt was due to open for a third day on Friday for limited evacuations under a Qatari-brokered deal to let out some foreign passport holders, their dependents and some wounded Gazans.

According to border officials, more than 700 foreign passport holders left for Egypt via Rafah on the two previous days. Dozens of critically injured Palestinians were to cross too.

UN says West Bank situation ‘alarming’

The United Nations rights office on Friday described the situation in the occupied West Bank as “alarming”, saying Israeli forces were increasingly using military tactics and weapons in law enforcement operations there.

At least 132 Palestinians, including 41 children, were killed in the West Bank, 124 by Israeli forces and eight by Israeli settlers, it said. Two Israeli soldiers were also killed.

Palestinians trapped in Gaza City hoped that a truce could be reached soon.

“Does the world wait for hundreds of thousands who refuse to leave their homes, who have no guilt but that they don’t want to leave their country, to be massacred by Israel?” said one. –

Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Simon Lewis in Tel Aviv, Ali Sawafta in Ramallah, Dan Williams, Emily Rose, Maytaal Angel in Jerusalem, Clauda Tanios in Dubai, Humeyra Pamuk, Patricia Zengerle, Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali in Washington; additional reporting by Reuters bureaux worldwide; writing by Michael Perry and Angus MacSwan; editing by Andrew Cawthorne, Mark Heinrich and Howard Goller

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