With updates from Rushdi Abu Alouf in Gaza; Lyse Doucet and Lucy Williamson in southern Israel; Jeremy Bowen, Yolande Knell, Tom Bateman, Alice Cuddy and Joel Gunter in Jerusalem; Nick Beake in Tel Aviv; Anna Foster in northern Israel; and Hugo Bachega in southern Lebanon.
- Reports say Israel’s military recovered a number of bodies of missing Israelis in a ground raid on Gaza on Friday
- Israel has warned 1.1m Palestinians living in north Gaza to evacuate south, and thousands have been fleeing by vehicle or on foot
- UN chief António Guterres said the call for a mass evacuation was extremely hazardous and he urged humanitarian access
- More than 1,300 people were killed in Israel last weekend when Hamas fighters crossed the border to attack civilians and soldiers
- Nearly 2,000 people have been killed in Israel’s bombing campaign of the Gaza Strip launched in the aftermath, Palestinian authorities say
- A UK government-chartered flight to bring British citizens home from Israel departed on Friday.
Turning our attention now to Beijing, where EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has just told a press conference that Israel’s evacuation order for people in northern Gaza was “utterly impossible to implement”.
Tens of thousands of civilians began fleeing to the south of Gaza yesterday after Israel told people to leave the area ahead of an expected ground offensive.
“To imagine that you could move one million people in 24 hours in a situation like Gaza can only be a humanitarian crisis,” Borrell said, on the final day of a three-day diplomatic visit to China.
Despite the EU’s expression of support for Israel, he also warned that it was also obligated to follow international humanitarian law in the process of defending itself.
“The position is clear,” said Borrell. “But, as any right, it has a limit. And this limit is international law.”
The anticipated ground offensive into Gaza dominates Saturday’s front pages.
The Daily Telegraph quotes a spokesperson for the Israel Defence Forces asasaying the localised raids carried out on Friday ahead of the offensive were intended to locate Israeli hostages and “cleanse the area of terrorists and weaponry”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is quoted by the Daily Mail saying the operation will be “just the beginning” and vowing that “we will end this war stronger than ever”.
The i reports that the UN has warned that Gaza is descending into a “hellhole” and is on the “brink of collapse”, while the Financial Times says the body estimates that more than 423,000 people in the territory have already been internally displaced.
“Give innocents chance of life,” reads the headline in the Daily Express. The paper carries a plea to Israel from the Archbishop of Canterbury that “the sins of Hamas are not borne by the citizens of Gaza”.
The Daily Mirror says that here in the UK the Met Police are on high alert and braced for a terror attack ahead of pro-Palestine demonstrations set to take place in London on Saturday. Deputy assistant commissioner Laurence Taylor is quoted saying a “very significant policing operation” is in place.