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Four-hour daily pause in Gaza battle; no ceasefire

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Gaza: Israel has agreed pauses in its offensive in northern Gaza that will allow some civilians to flee heavy fighting, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ruled out any broader ceasefire as a "surrender" to Hamas.


White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said the pauses were "significant steps forward" as heavy fighting took hold of Gaza City in the north of the Gaza strip.


"Israel will begin to implement four-hour pauses in areas of northern Gaza each day, with an announcement to be made three hours beforehand," Kirby told reporters.


US President Joe Biden welcomed the pauses, which formalise an arrangement that has already seen tens of thousands of Palestinians flee devastation in northern Gaza, but also said there was "no possibility" of a ceasefire.


A child peeks through a hole in the wall of a building destroyed in an Israeli strike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. — AFP
A child peeks through a hole in the wall of a building destroyed in an Israeli strike on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Friday. — AFP


The health ministry in Gaza Strip says more than 10,800 people are dead, mostly civilians and many of them children.


Netanyahu said Israel does not "seek to govern Gaza."


"We don't seek to occupy it, but we seek to give it and us a better future," he told Fox News. Tens of thousands of civilians have streamed out of devastated northern Gaza in recent days, with men, women and children clutching meagre possessions as they emerge from the devastated warzone.


They have fled close-quarter fighting, with Hamas using rocket-propelled grenades against Israeli troops backed by armoured vehicles and heavy airstrikes.


The UN agency responsible for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, said 70,000 people had travelled south on the route since November 4, most of them walking. Palestinians said on Friday a deadly strike hit Gaza's largest hospital compound.


Gaza's government, which reported a toll of 13, and the director of the Al Shifa Hospital, blamed Israeli troops for the strike at the facility sheltering people trying to flee the fighting. Israel did not immediately comment.


Al Shifa Hospital director Mohammed Abu Salmiya reported two people were killed and 10 wounded in a strike that he said hit the compound's maternity ward.


A woman carries a child while Palestinians fleeing north Gaza move southward as Israeli tanks roll deeper into the enclave in the central Gaza Strip on Friday.— Reuters
A woman carries a child while Palestinians fleeing north Gaza move southward as Israeli tanks roll deeper into the enclave in the central Gaza Strip on Friday.— Reuters


The United Nations called for an end to the "carnage" in Gaza, saying "razing entire neighbourhoods to the ground is not an answer for the egregious crimes committed by Hamas".


"To the contrary, it is creating a new generation of aggrieved Palestinians who are likely to continue the cycle of violence. The carnage simply must stop," Philippe Lazzarini, head of UNRWA, wrote in an opinion piece.


The war in the densely populated coastal territory, which is effectively sealed off, has prompted repeated calls for a ceasefire to protect civilian lives and allow in more humanitarian aid.


Tens of thousands of people have fled to the south of the territory in recent days, often on foot and with only the things they could carry.


"Enough destruction, there's nothing left. We need a truce to see what will later happen to us, a truce to bring medicine or aid to the hospitals," said Mohammed Khader, who was displaced in Rafah.


"Those hospitals are now full of displaced people and not only injured and martyrs," he added. — Agencies


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