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Arab and Muslim leaders are due to meet in Riyadh on Saturday to call for the end of the war in Gaza. The summit comes amid mounting international criticism of Israel’s offensive in the coastal enclave, with Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, warning on Friday night that “far too many Palestinians” have been killed in Israel’s assault, and president Emmanuel Macron of France calling for a ceasefire.
In news: the latest developments
French president Emmanuel Macron calls for a ceasefire, saying Israel must stop killing babies and women in Gaza.
Hizbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is due to give a speech on Saturday that will be closely watched for any indication that the Iran-backed militant group from southern Lebanon could enter the fighting.
The death toll from Israel’s assault on Gaza has passed 11,000, including more than 4,500 children and more than 3,000 women, according to officials in the Palestinian enclave.
The UN’s humanitarian arm OCHA said that “several” hospitals in northern Gaza had received direct hits on Friday as Israel stepped up its bombardments around them. Israel says Hamas has constructed bases under hospitals. Hamas denies this.
About 30,000 people fled areas in northern Gaza via a corridor opened by the Israel military on Friday, according to OCHA.
Big Read: Does Israel have a road map for Gaza’s future?
Israel’s ground forces have encircled Hamas’s political and military stronghold in Gaza City. But even as Israeli troops close in on their first military objective of taking control of northern Gaza, Israel’s longer-term strategy for the enclave remains shrouded in mystery: to most Israelis, to Palestinians and even to its closest allies in the US.
Comment: Putting out the Middle East fires, a teaspoon at a time
“History’s default setting is tragic: the plague in Athens; slave ships; Passchendaele; the Gulag; Hiroshima. But while the norm is carnage and suffering, it would be equally unhistorical to let the darkness entirely eclipse small points of radiance that manage somehow to remain lit amid the enclosing darkness.”
In maps: a visual guide to the Israel-Hamas war
Israel is facing international scrutiny over attacks on civilian infrastructure in Gaza. Palestinian officials say missiles have landed in the courtyard of al-Shifa hospital, while al-Rantisi and al-Nasser children’s hospitals are also under siege. Israel says al-Shifa sits atop a Hamas command centre and a dense network of underground tunnels used by the militant group.