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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said Israel would allow deliveries of food, water and medicine to Gaza, as long as the supplies do not reach Hamas

This live coverage has now ended. Find the latest up-to-date information on the Israel-Hamas war here.

  • Palestinian women carry stones to protesters in front of a burning barricade during clashes with Israeli soldiers in Ramallah.GORAN TOMASEVIC/The Globe and Mail

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Israel-Hamas war day 12

The conflict in the Middle East is in its 12th day. An explosion on Tuesday at the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in Gaza City killed hundreds of people, according to the Gaza Health Authority, and it remains unclear who is responsible. Meanwhile, thousands of people trying to escape Gaza are gathered in Rafah, which has the territory’s only border crossing to Egypt.

U.S. President Joe Biden was in Israel today. Biden's planned summit with Arab leaders was called off after the hospital attack.

The war that began Oct. 7 has become the deadliest of five Gaza wars for both sides. The Palestinian Health Ministry said 3,478 Palestinians have been killed and 12,000 wounded. More than 1,400 Israelis have been killed, and at least 199 others, including children, were captured by Hamas and taken into Gaza, according to Israel.

Follow our live coverage below

11:15 p.m.

Three Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in West Bank, Palestinian news agency says

Three Palestinians, including two teenagers, were killed by Israeli forces in separate incidents in the occupied West Bank early on Thursday, Palestinian official news agency WAFA said.

Israeli forces stormed the village of Budrus, west of Ramallah, shooting dead a young man, Gebriel Awad, and wounding another, WAFA said.

In other incidents, a 14-year-old was killed by a bullet wound in the head in a refugee camp south of Bethlehem and a 16-year-old succumbed to his wounds after being shot in the town of Tulkarm, the news agency added.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Dozens of Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank in the latest flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

- Reuters

10:10 p.m.

Man killed by Israeli forces in West Bank, Palestinian news agency says

A Palestinian man was killed by Israeli forces in the village of Budrus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Palestinian official news agency WAFA said.

Israeli forces stormed the village in the early hours of Thursday, shooting dead a young man, Gebriel Awad, and wounding another, WAFA added.

- Reuters

8:55 p.m.

Israeli airstrike kills seven children in Gaza, residents and doctors say

Residents and doctors in this southern Gaza town said an airstrike slammed into a home, killing seven small children.

The news spread quickly on social media, as grisly images of dead and bloodied toddlers lined up side by side on a hospital stretcher stirred outrage in Gaza and the West Bank.

Bandaged and caked in dust, the bodies were brought to the Gaza European Hospital in Khan Younis along with three other dead members of the Bakri family. Photographers swarmed the operation room as women covered their eyes and doctors wept.

“This is a massacre,” hospital director Dr. Yousef Al-Akkad said, his voice choking with emotion. “Let the world see, these are just children.”

Local medics also confirmed that the children were killed in a strike and said the Bakri family was just one of many such cases Wednesday.

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.

- The Associated Press

5:15 p.m.

Hezbollah warns it will respond to deadly Gaza hospital attack

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A man stands on his house balcony as Hezbollah supporters chant slogans during a protest in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza, in the southern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.Hassan Ammar/The Associated Press

Hezbollah has warned that it will not let the deadly bombing of the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital in Gaza go unanswered, as Israel expanded its evacuation of citizens along its northern border.

“In the coming days, we will be ready to respond to this atrocity that was committed,” warned Hashem Safi al-Din, head of Hezbollah’s executive council, in an address to a large crowd in Beirut Wednesday. “Because if we don’t, they will target all countries in our region.”

But there was little sign Wednesday that grisly scenes at the hospital would prod the Lebanese militant group into escalatory reprisal attacks on Israel, a fear that has prompted new international warnings against travel to Lebanon.

Leaders with Hezbollah and Hamas instead sought to use the bombing of the hospital as leverage against Israel to damage its standing with neighbours it has assiduously courted in recent years.

- Nathan VanderKlippe

4:45 p.m.

Liberal MPs call for ceasefire

Liberal government MPs are calling for a ceasefire in the war between Israel and Hamas, with Sameer Zuberi, parliamentary secretary to the Minister of Diversity, decrying what he called “butchery” taking place in the Gaza Strip.

Mr. Zuberi, his voice choked with emotion, told reporters in Ottawa on Wednesday that Canadians need to reflect on how many people have been killed in Gaza. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza, Mr. Zuberi said, is “falling on innocent children, adults, seniors.”

Another Liberal MP, Shafqat Ali, told reporters “a ceasefire must be called.” He said the bombing of Gaza’s Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital was heartbreaking. “International laws are not being respected by anyone, whether it’s Hamas, whether it’s other parties,” he said. He confirmed that by “other parties” he meant Israel.

- Steven Chase

4:40 p.m.

Biden says Egypt to open the Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid

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Trucks carrying humanitarian aid from Egyptian NGOs for Palestinians wait for the reopening of the Rafah crossing at the Egyptian side, to enter Gaza, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, Egypt October 18, 2023. REUTERS/Stringer BEST QUALITY AVAILABLESTRINGER/Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Wednesday Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has agreed to open the Rafah crossing to allow about 20 trucks carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.

“Sisi deserves some real credit because he was accommodating,” Biden told reporters.

An Egyptian presidency spokesman also said the two countries were coordinating with international humanitarian organizations under the supervision of the United Nations to secure the arrival of aid.

- Reuters

4:10 p.m.

Hamas political leader in West Bank says he believes some hostages could be released if Israel agrees to ceasefire

One of the founders of Hamas has acknowledged that “mistakes” were made during the Oct. 7 invasion of Israel, and says he believes the militant group would be willing to release the women, children and foreigners it is holding hostage in Gaza if Israel were to agree to a 24-hour ceasefire.

Sheik Hassan Yousef, the political leader of Hamas in the West Bank, told The Globe and Mail in an exclusive interview that he, like much of the world, had been taken off guard by the surprise attack carried by the armed wing of Hamas, which is known as the al-Qassam Brigades.

Sheik Yousef said Hamas has no interest in keeping women and children hostage, and would likely be willing to release them if Israel agreed to a 24-hour break in hostilities to allow for humanitarian aid to enter Gaza.

“We have hostages who are our guests, and we don’t have an issue with these hostages,” he said in response to a question about how Hamas could justify holding hostages such as 74-year-old peace activist Vivian Silver, who has roots in Winnipeg and has been classified as missing since the attack. “When the circumstances allow, we will release them.”

He called on the international community to negotiate a pause so that some of the hostages could be safely released. “We are ready. Let it be. But the attack has to stop,” he said, sitting in the reception room of his family home in Ramallah, in front of a giant photograph of Jerusalem’s Old City. “Let humanitarian aid come in, let electricity and water be resumed.”

- Mark MacKinnon

2:56 p.m.

Ontario politicians debate censuring legislator for statement on Israel-Hamas war

Ontario’s legislature began debate Wednesday on a Progressive Conservative motion that could lead to a New Democrat legislator effectively prevented from speaking in the House unless she apologizes again for a statement she made about the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Sarah Jama, who was elected earlier this year in a byelection in Hamilton Centre, published a written statement last week decrying “the generations long occupation of Palestine” without mentioning the attack on Israeli civilians by Hamas militants.

Condemnation came swiftly, particularly from Tories, and Jama posted an apology on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, but she did not retract the original statement.

The Progressive Conservatives have now put forward a motion to censure Jama, calling on the Speaker not to recognize her in the House — in order to ask a question or debate legislation — until she retracts and deletes her original statement and also apologizes in the legislature.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims said Wednesday that actions such as the Progressive Conservatives calling for Jama’s censure have real life consequences in the form of hatred directed at Muslims.

“We cannot use this horrific conflict where so much pain and trauma is being felt by everyone to score political points,” Uthman Quick, the group’s director of communications, said at a press conference.

“That is because we’ve seen that rhetoric escalates, and communities are made to bear the brunt of the backlash.”

Debate on the Tories’ motion is likely to continue in the legislature next week. The Progressive Conservatives have a majority so it is set to pass, but the Speaker would not necessarily be bound to follow it, and could exercise his discretion to still allow Jama to speak.

The motion would not prevent her from voting or attending, though she has not been at the legislature this week. Stiles has said Jama has Palestinian family members and she is being given space to deal with family issues.

- The Canadian Press

2:40 p.m.

Egypt rejects displacement of Palestinians into Sinai, says President el-Sisi

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A view of buildings at the Rafah border on October 18, 2023 in North Sinai, Egypt.Mahmoud Khaled/Getty Images

President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi said on Wednesday that Egyptians in their millions would reject the forced displacement of Palestinians into Sinai, adding that any such move would turn the Egyptian peninsula into a base for attacks against Israel.

The Gaza Strip is effectively under Israeli control and Palestinians could instead be moved to Israel’s Negev desert “till the militants are dealt with”, Sisi told a joint press conference in Cairo with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The border between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip is the site of the only crossing from the Palestinian territory that is not controlled by Israel.

Israel’s unprecedented bombardment and siege of Gaza to destroy Hamas militants who control the strip has raised fears that its 2.3 million residents could be forced southwards into Sinai.

“What is happening now in Gaza is an attempt to force civilian residents to take refugee and migrate to Egypt, which should not be accepted,” said Sisi.

“Egypt rejects any attempt to resolve the Palestinian issue by military means or through the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land, which would come at the expense of the countries of the region,” he said.

Sisi said the Egyptian people would “go out and protest in their millions... if called upon to do so” against any displacement of Gaza’s residents to Sinai.

- Reuters

2:33 p.m.

U.S. sanctions seek to disrupt Hamas’ revenue, U.S. Treasury says

The United States issued sanctions on Wednesday aimed at disrupting funding for the Hamas militant group after its deadly attack in Israel, singling out people involved in its investment portfolio and a Gaza-based cryptocurrency exchange among other targets.

The sanctions, announced as President Joe Biden visited Israel in a show of support, targeted nine individuals and one entity in Gaza, Sudan, Turkey, Algeria and Qatar, the Treasury Department said in a statement.

“The United States is taking swift and decisive action to target Hamas’s financiers and facilitators following its brutal and unconscionable massacre of Israeli civilians, including children,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen.

“We will continue to take all steps necessary to deny Hamas terrorists the ability to raise and use funds to carry out atrocities and terrorize the people of Israel,” Yellen added.

The sanctions target six individuals associated with Hamas’ secret investment portfolio, building on the Treasury’s imposition of sanctions in 2022 on officials and companies that manage the international portfolio.

The sanctions included a Gaza-based crypto business, called “Buy Cash Money and Money Transfer Company” (Buy Cash), which provides money transfer and virtual currency exchange services, including the cryptocurrency bitcoin, the Treasury statement said.

- Reuters

2:25 p.m.

Hundreds mourn as Israeli family of 5 that was slain together is laid to rest

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Mourners attend the funeral of the Kotz family in Gan Yavne, Israel, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. The Israeli family of five was killed by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 at their house in Kibbutz Kfar Azza.Ohad Zwigenberg/The Associated Press

An Israeli family of five whose bodies were discovered in each other’s arms after being killed by Hamas militants were buried together in a funeral attended by hundreds of mourners.

Family and friends bid farewell Tuesday to the Kotz family — a couple and their three children who were gunned down in their home at kibbutz Kfar Azza during the Oct. 7 Hamas invasion of southern Israel. They were buried side by side in a graveyard 30 miles (50 kilometers) west of Jerusalem.

Aviv and Livnat Kotz, their daughter, Rotem, and sons, Yonatan and Yiftach, were found dead on a bed embracing each other, a family member said.

The family had moved to Israel from Boston and built the home four years ago at the kibbutz where Aviv had grown up, his wife’s sister, Adi Levy Salma, told the Israeli news outlet Ynet.

“We told her it’s dangerous, but she did not want to move away, as it was her home for life,” Levy Salma said.

- The Associated Press

2:15 p.m.

Stream of vehicles rush to get airstrike victims to Gaza hospital

A steady stream of ambulances, taxis, cars and a motorcycle sped to the entrance of the Khan Younis hospital carrying the victims of reported Israeli airstrikes on Gaza Wednesday.

Sirens blared and horns honked to clear the way before they screeched to a stop. Crowds lining the street outside watched the urgent scene repeat itself.

Men jumped from the vehicles and scrambled to open rear and side doors and remove the casualties laying on car seats. Hospital workers and others standing nearby helped carry bodies that appeared to be in various states of consciousness.

A man rushed into the hospital with a limp child in his arms. A girl with a large cloth on her head as a bandage was helped from the car but still walking. Several of the injured had to be carried by multiple men or hoisted onto gurneys.

As soon as the wounded were unloaded, the drivers sped off and more vehicles arrived.

- The Associated Press

2 p.m.

UNHCR says it has 3,000 tons of aid for Gaza ready in Egypt

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said in a Wednesday news release that an estimated 3,000 tons of humanitarian assistance are awaiting entry to Gaza from Egypt.

OCHA said it estimates about one million people are internally displaced, including about 352,000 people sheltering in UNRWA schools in central and southern Gaza “in increasingly dire conditions.”

It said Gaza is “still under a full electricity blackout.”

- The Associated Press

1:55 p.m.

In Tel Aviv, Biden assures Israel, ‘You are not alone’

In remarks from Tel Aviv, President Joe Biden vows the US will not repeat the world's inaction after the Holocaust, insisting ‘we will not stand by and do nothing again' as Israel responds to the recent attack by Hamas.

The Associated Press

1:45 p.m.

Palestinian demonstrators clash with Israeli soldiers during a protest in Ramallah

Rock-throwing protesters persisted through tear gas and stun grenades on Wednesday in Ramallah, where clashes continued with Israeli soldiers and Palestinian security forces. Globe photographer Goran Tomasevic was in the West Bank city, de facto capital of the Palestinian Authority, where Palestinians have been venting their anger over the conflict in Gaza.

At top, medics carry a Palestinian man shot by Israeli border police in Ramallah, where protesters took cover behind burning barricades. Women carried stones to them to be hurled toward Israeli soldiers. Goran Tomasevic/The Globe and Mail

1:40 p.m.

Hostages’ families decry Israeli decision to let aid into Gaza

The families of hostages held in Gaza have harshly criticized the Israeli government’s decision to allow limited humanitarian aid into Gaza.

A statement released Wednesday by the Hostage and Missing Families Forum said the move only increased their suffering.

“Children, infants, women, soldiers, men, and elderly, some with serious illnesses, wounded and shot, are held underground like animals and without human conditions, and the Israeli government pampers the murderers and kidnappers with baklavas and medicines,” the statement read.

- The Associated Press

1:15 p.m.

Canadian man with relatives in Gaza says his loved ones are starving, need water

An Ontario man says his father and other relatives are on the brink of starvation in Gaza and violence has broken out during scrambles for scarce essential supplies.

Moayed Salim says his 66-year-old-year Canadian father, who was born in Gaza, moved last year to the Palestinian territory in his retirement and has been stuck there ever since the Israel-Hamas war broke out.

Salim says his father has registered with the Canadian embassy and is hoping to be able to leave Gaza but his family might run out of food and water before then.

He says another relative has told him a nearby bakery that was her only source of food was bombed last night and she has seen brutal fights break out over single bottles of water.

Salim, who lives in London, Ont., is among the Canadians with family in Gaza who have been calling for the evacuation of their loved ones from the region and for humanitarian aid to be allowed in to the sealed-off territory.

Global Affairs Canada has said Canada knows of 370 people – including Canadian citizens, permanent residents and their families – in Gaza.

- The Canadian Press

1:10 p.m.

Protests erupt across Middle East over Gaza hospital blast

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Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza, near the U.S. embassy in Aukar, a northern suburb of Beirut, Lebanon on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2023.Hassan Ammar/The Associated Press

Protesters on Wednesday staged anti-Israeli demonstrations around the Middle East, some of them turning violent, to voice rage at an explosion that killed hundreds of Palestinians in the deadliest incident in Gaza of the Israel-Hamas war.

In Lebanon, security forces fired tear gas and water canon at protesters who were throwing projectiles as a protest near the U.S. embassy north of Beirut turned violent, footage by Lebanese broadcaster al-Jadeed showed.

State-sponsored marches were held across Iran, backer of Hamas and Israel’s sworn foe, with demonstrators carrying banners that read “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

In Iraq, about 300 supporters of Iran-backed Shi’ite militia groups protested near a bridge which leads to the fortified Green Zone, home to the U.S. embassy and other foreign missions.

In Amman, riot police pushed back thousands of Jordanian protesters planning to march on the heavily fortified Israeli embassy. Several police were injured in clashes with protesters who torched property near the Israeli embassy, police said.

In Tunis, protesters burned Israeli and American flags and demanded the expulsion of the U.S. and French ambassadors for what they termed their unconditional support for Israel.

“They (Palestinians) have no food or water, and they are getting bombed. This is genocide, not war. This is a crime. We must find a solution,” said Ines Laswed, a demonstrator.

- Reuters

12:55 p.m.

Israeli ambassador to Canada says Islamic Jihad responsible for Gaza hospital attack

Israel’s Ambassador to Canada, Iddo Moed, is accusing Hamas of conducting a misinformation campaign to blame Israel for Tuesday’s explosion at the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza.

He called on other countries to condemn Islamic terrorists for what took place. He said an investigation by Israeli Defence Forces had determined the tragedy was caused by a rocket fired by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

“As ambassador of Israel to Canada, I mourn the loss of all civilian life,” he said in a statement released by the Israeli embassy in Canada.

He said that it was the Islamic Jihad that wrecked the hospital with a misfire. The blast reportedly killed hundreds.

“On Tuesday evening, while attempting to target Israeli civilians with a rocket, one misfired killing and injuring patients at the al-Ahli hospital,” Mr. Moed said.

“Islamic terrorist organizations do not value life. It is very clear by the fact that they deliberately launch rockets from within civilian areas, placing them directly in the line of fire, and making them especially vulnerable to misfires,” the ambassador said.

“We call on the international community to condemn this brazen disregard for civilian life and mourn with the families of those lost.”

The Gaza Strip’s Hamas-controlled government, by comparison, said the Tuesday evening bombing of the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital was an Israeli air strike.

The embassy’s statement said their opponents’ efforts to blame Israel for what happened at the Al-Ahli hospital are duplicitous.

“Hamas, aware of the PIJ’s responsibility, launched a misinformation campaign blaming Israel. It would have been impossible in the time frame which they claimed they knew what happened for them to be sure. It was misinformation that spread around the world, while the IDF launched an immediate examination based on intelligence, operational systems and aerial footage,” the embassy statement said.

“Our investigation confirmed a number of things: Firstly there was no IDF fire, by land, sea or air, that hit the hospital. Secondly Israel’s radar systems tracked rocket fire from terrorist organizations at the time of the explosion, with trajectory analysis confirming that they were fired in close proximity to the hospital. Thirdly, there is intelligence, of communications between terrorists discussing the misfiring.”

He said the IDF are conducting themselves lawfully. “The IDF continue to act in accordance with international law. The spreading of false and baseless allegations, can spread and inflame tensions in the region.”

- Steven Chase

12:50 p.m.

Demonstrators in The Hague urge ICC action

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People protest in support of Palestinians in Gaza as the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues, at the headquarters of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, Netherlands on October 18, 2023.PIROSCHKA VAN DE WOUW/Reuters

Several hundred pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside The Hague headquarters of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Wednesday to urge it and the international community to take action against what they call genocide against Palestinians.

The ICC is investigating potential atrocity crimes that Hamas militants in Israel and Israelis in the Gaza Strip have committed since 2014, which also covers the current conflict.

“We are against killings of any (parties), however when it comes to Gaza the world is always (turning) a blind eye. We came here to say enough is enough,” Rafat Alkayyali, 50, said, adding that he came to the ICC to protest because he believes in international law.

Protesters carried signs that said: “Justice for Palestine - Stop the Genocide” and “How many children will die until Israel is prosecuted”.

Last week ICC prosecutor Karim Khan told Reuters that the court has jurisdiction over potential atrocity crimes carried out by Hamas militants in Israel and Israelis in the Gaza Strip, even though Israel is not a member state.

- Reuters

12:40 p.m.

Israel will not allow aid into Gaza from its territory, Netanyahu’s office says

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Trucks carrying humanitarian aid from Egyptian NGOs for Palestinians wait for the reopening of the Rafah crossing at the Egyptian side, to enter Gaza in Rafah, Egypt October 18, 2023.STRINGER/Reuters

In a statement, Mr. Netanyahu’s office said Israel would not allow any aid to enter Gaza from its territory until Hamas returns the hostages it took in its attack. It also demanded Red Cross access to the hostages.

The statement said Israel would allow aid to enter through Egypt “as long as it is only food, water and medicine for the civilian population.” The statement said the aid had to remain in southern Gaza – to which Israel has ordered civilians to evacuate from Gaza City, in the north of the strip – and that any supplies which get to Hamas “will be prevented.” Mr. Netanyahu’s office specified it was agreeing to let aid in at Mr. Biden’s request.

- Adrian Morrow

12:15 p.m.

U.S. intelligence suggests Israel was ‘not responsible’ for Gaza hospital blast, White House says

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People inspect the area of Al-Ahli hospital where hundreds of Palestinians were killed in a blast in Gaza City, October 18, 2023.STRINGER/Reuters

The White House said Wednesday that a current intelligence assessment shows Israel was “not responsible” for the explosion at a Gaza hospital, but that information was still being collected.

The assessment is “based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said Wednesday in a social media post, following President Joe Biden’s comment to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that “based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you.”

There have been conflicting claims of who was responsible for the hospital blast. Officials in Gaza quickly blamed an Israeli airstrike. Israel denied it was involved and released a flurry of video, audio and other information that it said showed the blast was instead due to a missile misfire by Islamic Jihad, another militant group operating in Gaza. The Islamic Jihad dismissed that claim.

The Associated Press has not independently verified any of the claims or evidence released by the parties.

Biden said there were “a lot of people out there” who weren’t sure what caused the blast, which sparked protests throughout the Middle East. He later said he made the assertion based off “data from my Defense Department.”

- The Associated Press

12:05 p.m.

Liberal MPs call for ceasefire in Israel-Hamas war

A Quebec Liberal MP is issuing an emotional plea for peace in Israel and a viable Palestinian state as deaths in the Gaza Strip “mount by the minute.”

Sameer Zuberi battled tears this morning and spoke about the “butchery” of innocent children as he made his way into the weekly Liberal cabinet meeting.

Zuberi says Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7 was an “abhorrent” act that caused the latest crisis and escalated tensions that have existed in the region for decades.

But Zuberi says people in the Gaza Strip died before the latest conflict escalation, too, and the only way to save innocent lives is for bombs to stop falling.

Ontario Liberal MP Shafqat Ali says a ceasefire must be called and new talks launched to bring an end to the conflict.

- The Canadian Press

11:48 a.m.

Biden leaves Israel after historic visit

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U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks as he visits Israel amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Tel Aviv, Israel, October 18, 2023.EVELYN HOCKSTEIN/Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden left Israel on Wednesday, a Reuters reporter said, after a visit that lasted less than eight hours.

- Reuters

11:45 a.m.

Israeli troops kill two Palestinian teens in West Bank

Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinian teenagers near Ramallah in the West Bank on Wednesday during widespread protests against Israel’s bombing of the Gaza Strip, Palestinian officials said.

The deaths brought the toll of Palestinians killed in the latest flare-up of Israeli-Palestinian violence to at least 64 in the West Bank, a sharp uptick in fatal clashes with the army and settlers.

A statement from the Palestinian Authority’s health ministry said Israeli forces shot a 15-year-old and a 17-year-old in the village of Shuqba west of Ramallah. It did not elaborate.

Residents told Reuters the two boys were trying to set fire to tyres in protest against Israel when they were shot. Israel’s defence forces, asked for comment, said they were looking into the incident.

- Reuters

11:36 a.m.

Residents of Gaza Strip line up for fuel

A shortage of fuel led to a long line of cars and motorbikes blocking a street outside at a gas station in Khan Younis as motorists and people on foot with containers hoped to fill up.

Men and boys stood in a parallel line holding empty plastic jugs and water bottles as they waited for a turn at the pump.

Palestinians are struggling to survive since Israel cut off supplies of food, electricity, water and fuel to Gaza in retaliation for the attack launched Oct. 7 by Hamas militants. Scarce fuel that can be found can help to run generators and power water pumps.

“Everyone needs fuel to pump water to their homes, to irrigate their farms and to provide water for poultry, cattle and sheep,” said Khalid al-Najjar. “The whole world relies on fuel; it is an essential commodity just like food for us.”

- The Associated Press

11:05 a.m.

Israel has agreed to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza, Biden says

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Children at a communal water distribution point in Khan Younis, in southern Gaza, on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023. Food, water and electricity shortages have left Gazans increasingly desperate for aid and unsure of where to go.SAMAR ABU ELOUF/The New York Times News Service

U.S. President Joe Biden is promising an “unprecedented” package of military aid for Israel and announcing that Israel has agreed to allow humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.

In his historic visit to Israel Wednesday – which put a sitting American president in unusual proximity to an active war zone – Mr. Biden also cautioned that Israeli leaders must have a clear plan for achieving its wartime objectives.

“I come to Israel with a single message: you are not alone,” Mr. Biden told reporters in Tel Aviv after meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet. “As long as the United States stands, and we will stand forever, we will never let you be alone.”

The President also said that it looks as if Israel is not to blame for a deadly explosion at a Gaza hospital Tuesday. “It appears to be the result of an errant rocket fired by a terrorist group in Gaza,” he said. He described himself as “outraged and saddened” by explosion.

Mr. Biden said the Israeli government had agreed to let aid into Gaza, which is running out of water, food, fuel and medicine as a result of Israel’s siege. Aid trucks are backed up at the Rafah border crossing from Egypt while the sides have failed to reach a deal to open the crossing.

The President did not specify when or how quickly the aid would start flowing. But he said the deal was contingent on Hamas not hijacking the aid once it comes over the border. If the group does this, he said, the aid will be cut off.

Mr. Biden said he would send an additional US$100-million in humanitarian aid to Palestinians both in Gaza and in the West Bank.

- Adrian Morrow

10:50 a.m.

U.S. vetoes U.N. Security Council action on Israel, Gaza

The United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have called for humanitarian pauses in the conflict between Israel and Palestinian Hamas militants to allow humanitarian aid access to the Gaza Strip.

The vote on the Brazilian-drafted text was twice delayed in the past couple of days as the United States tries to broker aid access to Gaza. Twelve members voted in favour of the draft text on Wednesday, while Russia and Britain abstained.

Washington traditionally shields its ally Israel from any Security Council action.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire to allow for the release of hostages and humanitarian aid access to Gaza.

The draft resolution also urged Israel - without naming it - to rescind its order for civilians and U.N. staff in Gaza to move to the south of the Palestinian enclave and condemns “the terrorist attacks by Hamas.”

The draft U.N. resolution condemned all violence and hostilities against civilians and all acts of terrorism and called for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages.

- Reuters

10:15 a.m.

Video: Witnesses describe deadly hospital blast in Gaza

10:05 a.m.

Biden says he asked Netanyahu ‘tough questions’ during meeting

Biden said he asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “tough questions” during their meeting in Tel Aviv, where they also discussed humanitarian needs, security assistance and information on unaccounted Americans.

“I asked tough questions as a friend of Israel. We will continue to deter any actor wanting to widen this conflict,” Biden said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Speaking about the explosion at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday, Biden told Netanyahu, “based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you.”

Biden added later that he based his conclusion on “the data I was shown by my Defense Department.”

Israel said Wednesday its radar as well as independent video showed a rocket in a barrage fired by Palestinian militants misfired and caused a large explosion just as the blast hit the hospital. It said there was no crater, which would have been present with an airstrike, and it released a recording it said was between two Hamas militants who said the blast was believed to be an Islamic Jihad misfire.

Islamic Jihad dismissed Israel’s claims, pointing to Israel’s order that the hospital be evacuated in recent days and reports of a previous strike at the hospital that wounded four people as proof that it was an Israeli target.

- The Associated Press, Reuters

9:13 a.m.

Ottawa antisemitism conference draws PM, party leaders and protesters

Canada’s political leaders spoke at a conference on Tuesday night in Ottawa aimed at combatting antisemitism, organized by the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the crowd that Canada will remain a “friend” to Israel, adding that all Canadians stand with Israel in its grief. He also acknowledged a recent uptick in antisemitism aimed at Jewish communities across Canada since the war broke out.

Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh and Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet also spoke.

Poilievre cautioned against applying a “moral equivalence” between the Oct. 7 Hamas attack and Israel’s efforts to protect its civilians. Meanwhile, Singh addressed the rising tensions experienced by the Jewish community, as well as anti-Palestinian sentiments.

Outside the conference, a group of protesters gathered. The X social media account for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs posted a short video of what they described as a large anti-Israel demonstration.

Police were on hand and those leaving the conference were warned. As attendees left, people at the conference directed them to take a back exit.

- Canadian Press

8:35 a.m.

U.S. issues Hamas-related sanctions

The Biden administration issued sanctions on Wednesday aimed at disrupting Hamas’s funding, targeting what it said was “a secret Hamas investment portfolio,” a financial facilitator tied to Iran and a Gaza-based virtual currency exchange, among others.

The sanctions, imposed under a terrorism-related executive order, targeted nine individuals and one entity based in Gaza and elsewhere including Sudan, Turkey, Algeria and Qatar, the U.S. Department of Treasury said in a statement.

“The United States is taking swift and decisive action to target Hamas’s financiers and facilitators following its brutal and unconscionable massacre of Israeli civilians, including children,” said Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said.

“We will continue to take all steps necessary to deny Hamas terrorists the ability to raise and use funds to carry out atrocities and terrorize the people of Israel,” Yellen added.

- Reuters

8:20 a.m.

Gaza’s doctors struggle to save survivors from hospital blast that killed 471

Doctors in Gaza City faced with dwindling medical supplies performed surgery on hospital floors, often without anesthesia, in a desperate bid to save badly wounded victims of a massive blast that killed civilians sheltering in a nearby hospital amid Israeli bombings and a blockade of the territory.

The Hamas militant group blamed the blast on an Israeli air strike, while the Israeli military blamed a rocket misfired by other Palestinian militants.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said that 471 Palestinians were killed and more than 314 wounded.

Staff members at Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital said they could not gauge the toll because the blast had dismembered so many bodies. Hospital director Suhaila Tarazi and Episcopal Church officials that run Al-Ahli could only estimate that the toll was “in the hundreds” and refrained from giving an exact number.

The blast left gruesome scenes. Hundreds of Palestinians had taken refuge in Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital and other hospitals in Gaza City, hoping they would be spared bombardment after Israel ordered all residents of the city and surrounding areas to evacuate to the southern Gaza Strip.

Ghassan Abu Sitta, a plastic surgeon working at al-Alhi, said he heard a loud explosion and the ceiling of his operating room collapsed.

“The wounded started stumbling toward us,” he wrote in an account posted to Facebook. He saw hundreds of dead and severely wounded people. “I put a tourniquet on the thigh of a man who had his leg blown off and then went to tend to a man with a penetrating neck injury.”

Video that the Associated Press confirmed was from the hospital showed the grounds strewn with torn bodies, many of them young children, as fire engulfed the building. The grass was strewn with blankets, school backpacks and other belongings. On Wednesday morning, the blast scene was littered with charred cars and the ground was blackened by debris.

Hospital director Suhaila Tarazi said the aftermath of the blast was “unlike anything I have ever seen or could ever imagine.”

“Our hospital is a place of love and reconciliation,” she said. “We are all losers in this war. And it must end.”

Ambulances and private cars rushed some 350 casualties to Gaza City’s main hospital, al-Shifa, which was already overwhelmed with wounded from other strikes, said its director, Mohammed Abu Selmia. Doctors there resorted to performing surgery on floors and in the halls, mostly without anesthesia.

“We need equipment, we need medicine, we need beds, we need anesthesia, we need everything,” Abu Selmia said. He warned that fuel for the hospital’s generators would run out within hours, forcing a complete shutdown, unless supplies enter the Gaza Strip.

- The Associated Press, Reuters

7:45 a.m.

Another Canadian evacuated from West Bank

Canadian officials have succeeded in evacuating another Canadian citizen from the West Bank, bringing the number evacuated to 22 so far, with all of them brought across the border to neighbouring Jordan.

But about 370 Canadians and others seeking Canadian assistance were still trapped in Gaza on Wednesday as the border between Gaza and Egypt remained closed. The Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been closed since Oct. 7, the beginning of the war between Israel and the Hamas militant group that controls Gaza.

Western governments have been hoping since Saturday to get the Rafah crossing open, even temporarily, so that foreign citizens – including Canadians – could leave Gaza and enter Egypt. But Egyptian officials say the Rafah crossing is closed because of damage inflicted by four Israeli air strikes around the crossing over the past 10 days.

Dozens of trucks with emergency aid supplies for Gaza remain stuck on the Egyptian side of the border, deepening the humanitarian disaster in Gaza, where food and water are running out as Israel continues its blockade of the Palestinian territory.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told the House of Commons on Monday that it is “imperative” that a humanitarian corridor be established to allow essential supplies – including food and water – to enter Gaza.

On Monday, Canadian officials were able to evacuate 21 Canadian citizens, along with about 10 citizens of Australia and New Zealand, on a bus from Ramallah in the West Bank across the Jordanian border to the city of Amman.

On Wednesday, they managed to bring another Canadian across to Jordan. But there are still hundreds of Canadians in the West Bank who are seeking assistance to get out, and the task will become increasingly difficult because many of the remaining Canadians are in families with non-Canadians, who are required to have different documents and approvals from Israeli and Jordanian authorities.

Some of the remaining Canadians are in regions of the West Bank where it is difficult or dangerous to travel to Ramallah, the city where the Canadian representative office is located, according to a Canadian official. The Globe and Mail is not naming the official because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

- Geoffrey York

Open this photo in gallery:

A man walks with salvaged items past destroyed vehicles at the site of the Ahli Arab hospital in central Gaza on October 18, 2023 in the aftermath of an overnight blast there.MAHMUD HAMS/AFP/Getty Images

7:27 a.m.

Hamas rejects Israel’s claims about hospital explosion cause

Palestinian militant group Hamas has accused Israeli authorities of “lies on top of lies,” rejecting Israel’s claims that a deadly hospital explosion was caused by a projectile fired from within Gaza.

“It’s obvious that they’re lying and that they’ve completely deluded themselves with their lies,” Osama Hamdan, a senior representative of Hamas in Lebanon who is also part of its politburo, said in Beirut Wednesday.

Israel has provided what it calls evidence that the Tuesday night explosion at the hospital, which killed hundreds and prompted rage across the Arab world, was caused by the failed launch of an Islamic Jihad rocket.

U.S. President Joe Biden, on a visit to Israel, said “it appears” this is true, although he said that “some people are not sure.”

Hamas, however, has blamed Israel, a stance it maintained Wednesday.

“The involvement of the American President in this is a great indicator that this is a lie that they’re trying to fabricate,” Mr. Hamdan said.

He pointed to Israeli demands in recent days that Palestinians evacuate Gaza hospitals.

“The Israeli enemy has always had a plan to cripple the medical body of Gaza because it is one of the major foundations of Gaza,” he said.

He argued that Israeli radars should have triggered alarms if the rocket came from inside Gaza, but did not.

“Either your radars are faulty and out of date or you’re a liar,” he said.

- Nathan VanderKlippe

7:07 a.m. ET

Egypt rejects any displacement of Palestinians into Sinai, Sisi says

Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said Egyptians would reject the forced displacement of Palestinians into Sinai, adding that any such move would turn the peninsula into a base for attacks against Israel.

The Gaza Strip is effectively under Israeli control and Palestinians could instead be moved to Israel’s Negev desert “till the militants are dealt with,” Sisi told a joint news conference in Cairo with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

The border between Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula and the Gaza Strip is the site of the only crossing from the Palestinian territory that is not controlled by Israel.

Israel’s unprecedented bombardment and siege of Gaza has raised fears that its 2.3 million residents could be forced southwards into Sinai.

“What is happening now in Gaza is an attempt to force civilian residents to take refugee and migrate to Egypt, which should not be accepted,” said Sisi.

“Egypt rejects any attempt to resolve the Palestinian issue by military means or through the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land, which would come at the expense of the countries of the region,” he said.

Jordan, which shares a border with the Israeli-occupied West Bank and absorbed most of the Palestinians who fled or were driven from their homes after the creation of the state of Israel, has also warned against Palestinians being forced off their land.

- Reuters

7 a.m. ET

Iran calls for Islamic countries to sanction Israel

Members of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation should sanction and implement an oil embargo on Israel, in addition to expelling Israeli ambassadors, the Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said on Wednesday according to a statement shared by Iran’s foreign ministry.

An urgent meeting of the OIC was taking place Wednesday in the Saudi city of Jeddah for Islamic countries to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

- Reuters

Open this photo in gallery:

U.S. President Joe Biden meets with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on October 18, 2023.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

6:20 a.m. ET

Biden says Gaza hospital blast appears to be caused by ‘the other team,’ not Israel

President Joe Biden opened his visit to Israel on Wednesday vowing to show the world that the U.S. stands in solidarity with the Jewish people and offering an assessment that the deadly explosion at a Gaza City hospital appeared to have been carried out “by the other team” and not the Israeli military.

“Based on what I’ve seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you,” Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a meeting, referring to Hamas militants. But Biden said there were “a lot of people out there” who weren’t sure what caused the blast.

The Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry said an Israeli air strike caused the destruction and hundreds of deaths. The Israeli military denied involvement and blamed a misfired rocket from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, another militant group. That organization also rejected responsibility.

Biden had been scheduled to visit Jordan after the stop in Israel, but meetings there with Arab leaders were called off after the hospital explosion. He told Netanyahu he was “deeply saddened and outraged” by the explosion. But he also said it was not hyperbole to say Hamas had “slaughtered” Israelis in the Oct. 7 attack.

-The Associated Press

Warning: Graphic content. Hundreds are feared dead and scores more injured in a blast at a Gaza hospital on Tuesday (Oct. 17). A Hamas authority blamed Israel, while the Israeli military said a failed rocket launch by a Palestinian militant group was responsible.

Oct. 17 10:40 p.m. ET

Hundreds feared dead in Gaza hospital explosion amid conflicting accusations

An explosion at a hospital sheltering displaced people in Gaza has reportedly killed hundreds, threatening to exacerbate the humanitarian crisis in the besieged Palestinian enclave and cause the war between Israel and Hamas to spread.

The Gaza Strip’s Hamas-controlled government said the Tuesday evening bombing of the Al-Ahli Arabi Baptist Hospital was an Israeli air strike and had killed more than 500 people. The Israeli military, however, blamed the blast on a failed missile launch by the Islamic Jihad group.

If the explosion’s casualty numbers are confirmed, it would represent the deadliest single incident for Palestinians in the series of wars Israel has fought with Gaza since Hamas took over the enclave in 2007.

- Adrian Morrow in Washington, Geoffrey York and Mark MacKinnon in Jerusalem

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