Israel Latest: US Refutes Report on Tentative Hostage Deal

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(Bloomberg) -- The White House refuted a Washington Post report Israel and Hamas had agreed to a tentative, US-brokered deal to pause fighting and free dozens of hostages.

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Israel said it’s entering the “next stage” of the war, as attention turned from the rubble of Gaza City to Khan Younis in the south. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a news conference, wouldn’t say if he believed top Hamas leaders are hiding there. “We’ll get to them,” he said. “All Hamas leaders are dead men walking.”

Hamas, designated a terror organization by the US and EU, has lost contact with groups assigned to guard some hostages, a spokesperson said. A senior US diplomat said Hamas must free more hostages in return for a significant increase in aid to Gaza and a pause in fighting. President Joe Biden threatened US visa bans on “extremists” who attack Palestinians in the West Bank.

For more stories on the Israel-Hamas war, click here.

US Says No Deal Yet on Hostages (4:30 a.m.)

The US said there is no agreement yet between Israel and Hamas on the release of hostages after the Washington Post said a tentative one had been reached to free dozens of women and children held in Gaza in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting.

“No deal yet but we continue to work hard to get a deal,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Adrienne Watson said in response to the report of a US-brokered agreement.

Shifa Hospital a ‘Death Zone,’ WHO Says After Visit (2:07 a.m.)

Al Shifa hospital is a “death zone” and “desperate,” according to a UN team allowed to visit Gaza’s largest hospital, and team members saw a mass grave near the entrance holding possibly 80 bodies. The team, led by the World Health Organization, was allowed one hour at the hospital facilitated by the Israeli military, the group said in a press release.

Though the team said Shifa was “essentially” no longer operating as a hospital, there remain 291 patients, including 32 babies “in extremely critical condition.” The “vast majority” of patients were suffering war wounds, including amputations, burns and spinal trauma, WHO said.

“WHO and partners are urgently developing plans for the immediate evacuation of the remaining patients, staff and their families” and are seeking safe passage in coming days to transport the sick to two other hospitals, the group said.

Biden Proposes Postwar Framework, Warns on Settlers (12:44 p.m.)

President Joe Biden outlined a framework for Gaza’s postwar future in an op-ed article, including no renewed Israeli occupation, unified governance by “a revitalized Palestinian Authority” and an eventual reconstruction effort that includes interim security arrangements.

“To start, Gaza must never again be used as a platform for terrorism,” Biden said in the Washington Post on Saturday. “There must be no forcible displacement of Palestinians from Gaza, no reoccupation, no siege or blockade, and no reduction in territory.”

In a warning to Israel, he floated the threat of US visa bans on “extremists” who attack Palestinian civilians in the West Bank.

School Struck in Northern Gaza (10:43 p.m.)

Palestinians said the Israeli military struck a UN school-turned-shelter in the northern Gaza Strip.

According to the Hamas-run government media office, the shelling resulted in the deaths and injury of 200 Palestinians sheltering at Al-Fakhoura school.

Philippe Lazzarini, the UNRWA Commissioner-General, said images he received from the school that shelters thousands of displaced were “horrifying.”

The Israeli military received reports of an incident in the Jabalya region. The incident is under review, the IDF said.

Israel to Turn South in War’s ‘Next Stage’ (10:15 p.m.)

Israel said it’s entering the “next stage” of its war against Hamas, as attention turns from the rubble of Gaza City to the city of Khan Younis in the south. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at a news conference, wouldn’t say if he believed top Hamas leaders are hiding there. “We’ll get to them,” he said. “All Hamas leaders are dead men walking.”

“The places where Hamas can circulate are shrinking,” Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said at the news conference of Israel’s war cabinet. “Whoever was on the western side of the city understands that well — they’ve already met the deadly power of the IDF. Those on the eastern side are understanding that tonight and will understand it more in the next few days.”

“And those who are located in the south of the Gaza Strip will understand that soon,” Gallant said.

In recent days Israel has dropped leaflets in Khan Younis — the hometown of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar — warning residents to leave the city for a safe zone in the south of the strip where humanitarian aid is available. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have moved to the safe zone since the war began, defying Hamas efforts to prevent them from fleeing the battle zone.

Read more: Hamas Chief Who Deceived Israel Is Target No. 1 Deep Underground

Netanyahu Says No Hostage Deal (10:15 p.m.)

Netanyahu also dismissed speculation that a deal with Hamas to release Israeli hostages held in the Gaza Strip was within reach.

“We haven’t seen any deal. There were many things that didn’t come to fruition,” Netanyahu said at the news conference Saturday night, as tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets to demand the hostages’ return. “When there’s something to say, we’ll say it.”

Representatives of the hostages’ families are set to meet with the cabinet this week.

Israel Announces More Soldier Deaths in Gaza (7:39 p.m.)

The Israeli army on Saturday announced the deaths of six more soldiers in battles with Hamas militants inside Gaza. That brings the total of fallen soldiers whose names can be published — meaning their families have already been notified — to 378, including many killed in Hamas’s Oct. 7 surprise attack that launched the war.

Hamas Says It’s Lost Contact With Some Hostages (7:22 p.m.)

Hamas has lost contact with groups assigned to guard some hostages, the spokesman of Hamas’s armed wing said. He didn’t say how many of the approximately 240 hostages held in Gaza were unaccounted for.

“The fate of the captives and captors is still unknown,” the spokesman, Abu Obaida, said in a statement.

The announcement is likely to further complicate mediation efforts to release hostages in exchange for a number of Palestinians in Israeli jails.

Army Says Gaza Attack Widening to More Neighborhoods (5:04 p.m.)

Israel is expanding the attack on Hamas to additional areas of northern Gaza, killing “numerous” militants and striking underground infrastructure and other “significant” targets in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood and in Jabalya, according to an IDF statement Saturday.

The army said Jabalya hosts one of Hamas’s “most significant terror strongholds,” including the command and control center of its Northern Gaza Brigade.

Israeli Army Said It Killed Hamas Squad in Drone Strike (4:15 p.m.)

A Hamas squad that fired a barrage of rockets Friday evening on Tel Aviv and surrounding areas — injuring five Israelis — was killed in a drone strike shortly afterward, the Israeli Defense Force said on Saturday.

The force said separately it attacked Hezbollah “terrorist targets” in Lebanese territory, including an advanced surface-to-air missile system. That comes a day after a surface-to-air missile was fired from Lebanon at an Israeli aircraft.

Hostage Families Reach Jerusalem, Will Meet With Gantz (4 p.m.)

Tens of thousands of Israelis joined families of the hostages held in Gaza at the tail end of a five-day march that reached Jerusalem on Saturday. A rally demanding the government secure the release of all the hostages will be held outside the Knesset later in the day, the public broadcaster Kan News reported.

Representatives of the hostage families will meet Saturday evening with former Defense Minister Benny Gantz and ex-IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot — members of Israel’s war cabinet — Haaretz reported.

Von der Leyen Says No Forced Displacement of Palestinians (1 p.m.)

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen discussed the humanitarian crisis in Gaza with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, she said in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter. She’s also expected to visit Jordan on Saturday.

The two agreed on the principle of no forced displacement of Palestinians and a political horizon based on a two-state solution, Von der Leyen said, thanking Egypt for its role in facilitating humanitarian aid to Palestinians.

US Says Hamas Must Release Hostages for Gaza to Get More Aid (11 a.m.)

Hamas must release more hostages in return for a significant increase in aid to Gaza and a pause in fighting, one of the US’s top Middle East envoys said on Saturday.

US Says Hamas Must Release Hostages for Gaza to Get More Aid

“The surge in humanitarian relief, the surge in fuel, the pause in fighting will come when hostages are released,” said Brett McGurk, who’s Joe Biden’s Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa.

McGurk, speaking at the IISS Manama Dialogue, a regional security conference in Bahrain, said the US’s approach has helped hostage negotiations so far.

UAE Receives Injured Palestinians From Gaza (9:25 a.m.)

The United Arab Emirates said it received the first plane carrying injured people from Gaza following its announcement that it would provide treatment for 1,000 children in Emirati hospitals.

The plane left from Egypt carrying 15 people, including children and their families, according to Afra Al Hameli, the UAE ministry of foreign affairs’ director of strategic communications.

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