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Israel rejects ceasefire unless hostages freed

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has discarded suggestions of a temporary ceasefire with Hamas.

With fighting between the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Hamas about to enter its fifth week, Netanyahu today met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Tel Aviv.

Channel 1

The pair discussed, among other things, calls by the US for Israel to agree to a humanitarian pause in its strikes on Gaza to allow for the effective delivery of aid. But Netanyahu said until all hostages were freed, no such agreement could be made.

Meanwhile, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, head of the World Health Organization, said he was “utterly shocked” by a reported blast outside Gaza City’s largest hospital, Al-Shifa.

The Hamas-run health ministry said at least 13 people were killed in the incident and blamed an Israeli air strike. In a statement, Hamas officials said Israeli forces targeted “a convoy of ambulances which was transporting the wounded” from Al-Shifa towards Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

The IDF confirmed it had hit an ambulance, which it said was being used by Hamas operatives. It did not say where the strike took place.

“Patients, health workers, facilities, and ambulances must be protected at all times,” Ghebreyesus said, ahead of a separate warning by the UN.

Thomas White, director of affairs at the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), said there was increasingly little the UN could do to protect Palestinians trying to shelter from the fighting. “Let’s be very clear, there is no place that is safe in Gaza right now,” he said.

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