More patients are dying because of a lack of power at Gaza’s main hospital, medical staff said on Sunday amid conflicting accounts from Israel and health authorities in Gaza over why a badly needed fuel delivery for the besieged and crumbling facility had been held up.
As Israeli troops move deeper into Gaza City, hundreds of seriously ill and wounded patients and displaced people have been trapped inside Al-Shifa Hospital, the largest in the enclave. Intense, close-quarters combat is taking place nearby between Israeli troops and fighters from Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that controls Gaza. In recent days, Israeli tanks and troops have drawn close to the facility, one of the few health centers still functioning in northern Gaza.
At least two cardiology patients died on Sunday with the lack of fuel at the facility playing a role, according to Abdel-Salam Barakat, a nurse at Al-Shifa. He said that three babies had died — including one premature infant in an incubator whose death Gaza’s health ministry had announced a day earlier, when it reported five deaths due to the power outage at the hospital.
Many staff members have fled Al-Shifa. Without fuel to run generators, the hospital has been plunged into darkness, forcing the some 50 doctors and roughly 150 nurses remaining to tend to patients by the light of their cellphones, Mr. Barakat said.
“The medical staff here are just trying to do anything they can,” he added, saying that babies in the neonatal unit whose incubators had gone cold had been placed on bedding on the floor. The hospital was out of oxygen and dialysis had stopped, Mr. Barakat said.
The World Health Organization in a statement on Sunday expressed “grave concerns for the safety of the health workers, hundreds of sick and injured patients, including babies on life support and displaced people who remain inside the hospital.”
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the group’s director general, added later Sunday, “Regrettably, the hospital is not functioning as a hospital anymore.”
Israel and the Gazan health authorities appeared to blame the other for exacerbating the crisis, and offered differing accounts on Sunday about fuel supplies.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel told NBC’s “Meet the Press” that Israel had offered Al-Shifa enough fuel to operate the incubators and other parts of the hospital because “every civilian death, every dead baby is a tragedy,” but that the offer had been refused. And the Israeli military said in a statement that its troops had “placed 300 liters of fuel for urgent medical purposes” at Al-Shifa’s entrance — but that “Hamas prevented the hospital from receiving the fuel.” (The military’s chief spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, later said that the fuel had been left about 1,000 feet from the hospital.)
Dr. Ashraf al-Qudra, a spokesman for Gaza’s health ministry,disputed those assertions. In an interview, he said that an offer had been made over the phone for 200 liters — not 300 — and that the head of Al-Shifa Hospital rejected the offer because it was not sufficient. No fuel was delivered, he said.
“Taking this fuel would give Israel credit for allowing fuel into Gaza,” even though Israel has otherwise barred fuel from entering the enclave since Oct. 7, Dr. al-Qudra said in an interview.
It was not immediately possible to independently verify either of the competing claims, which came as roughly 1,500 patients, staff and displaced people remained at Al-Shifa while fighting raged around them, according to Dr. Mohammed Zaqout, the Gazan health ministry’s general manager for hospitals.
The head of Al-Shifa’s intensive care unit, Dr. Jihad al-Jaidi, said by phone on Sunday that those inside the hospital had been trying to keep clear of the windows for fear of snipers and that his team had moved its 27 patients into the narrow hallways, hoping they’d be safer.
“We have no sense of time,” Dr. al-Jaidi said. “There is no life. Every night is horror, every night is war.”
Abu Bakr Bashir and Nada Rashwan contributed reporting.
The Palestinian Red Crescent said on Sunday that Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City was “no longer operational,” as power outages and shortages of fuel continued to wreak havoc on Gaza’s health facilities amid raging battles between Israeli troops and Hamas fighters.
Israel’s ground invasion of the territory has moved deeper into Gaza City in the last few days, slowly closing in on the hospitals that have provided refuge for tens of thousands of civilians, but that Israel says are shielding Hamas military operations in tunnels below.
The Red Crescent had said on Saturday that Israeli tanks and military vehicles had surrounded Al-Quds Hospital, the second-largest in Gaza City, and were shelling the building. It said the hospital had 500 patients and warned that fuel shortages caused by Israel’s siege of Gaza, which has cut off power to the coastal strip and deprived it of any new fuel deliveries, put the hospital at risk of closing down.
On Sunday, it declared that the hospital, where it said more than 14,000 displaced people had also been sheltering, was “out of service and no longer operational.”
“The cessation of services is due to the depletion of available fuel and power outage,” the organization said in a statement, adding that medical workers were “making every effort to provide care to patients and the wounded.”
The announcement left one less hospital available for Gazans amid a spiraling crisis. Four others that are adjacent to one another — the Rantisi children’s hospital, Al-Nasr Hospital, and two other medical centers specializing in optometry and psychiatry — were evacuated on Friday.
And conditions at Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa, are dire. Thousands of seriously ill and wounded patients and displaced people have been trapped inside, while Israeli tanks and troops surround the compound, with snipers occasionally firing off shots, according to Gaza’s health ministry, doctors and some witnesses sheltering inside. Nearby, there is intense, close-quarter combat between Israeli troops and fighters from Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that controls Gaza.
The World Health Organization said on Sunday that it had lost communication with its contacts at Al-Shifa, where the Gaza health ministry said a day earlier that at least five wounded patients — including a premature baby in an incubator — had died as a result of the power outage. Without fuel to run generators, the hospital has been plunged into darkness, the health ministry and the hospital’s administrator said.
“W.H.O. has grave concerns for the safety of the health workers, hundreds of sick and injured patients, including babies on life support and displaced people who remain inside the hospital,” the U.N. agency said in a statement. “The number of inpatients is reportedly almost double its capacity, even after restricting services to lifesaving emergency care.”
The Indonesian Hospital in Gaza City was also without power on Sunday. Reuters video showed medical workers there struggling to manually resuscitate a young child and relying on battery-powered lights to treat patients.
Video obtained by Reuters shows medical workers at the hospital manually resuscitating a baby and using battery-powered lights as they treated patients amid fuel and power outages over the past few days.CreditCredit…Reuters
President Biden’s national security adviser warned Israel on Sunday against engaging in combat in hospitals in Gaza, even though he said he agreed with its view that Hamas uses such civilian facilities “as human shields” to house its fighters and store its weapons.
“The United States does not want to see firefights in hospitals, where innocent people, patients receiving medical care, are caught in the crossfire,” Jake Sullivan, the adviser, said in an interview with “Face the Nation” to be aired later in the morning on CBS. “And we’ve had active consultations with Israeli defense forces on this.”
In Gaza City, Al Ahli Hospital appears to be one of the few facilities able to accept new patients. Dr. Ghassan Abu Sittah, a British-Palestinian doctor volunteering there, said in a voice note on Sunday that the hospital had two operating rooms and three surgeons to handle more than 500 wounded people, some of whom had been transferred from Al Shifa. He said that Al Ahli has no X-ray technician or anesthesia, and that multiple patients have died because the hospital no longer has access to blood transfusions.
“You have a feeling that the place is back to the same conditions and the same capabilities it had” during World War I, Dr. Abu Sittah said. “The situation is so bleak.”
Raja Abdulrahim and Peter Baker contributed reporting.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said on Sunday that the Israeli Army was the only force that could take military responsibility for Gaza after the war and guarantee his country’s security, while stating that he saw no future administrative role there for the Western-backed Palestinian Authority — at least in its current form.
“We need to see the following two things,” Mr. Netanyahu told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “Gaza has to be demilitarized and Gaza has to be de-radicalized. And I think so far, we haven’t seen any Palestinian force, including the Palestinian Authority, that is able to do it.”
Asked who could therefore govern Gaza, he said it was “too early to say.” He added, “The first task we have to achieve is defeat Hamas.”
Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks echoed those he made to the Israeli public at a televised news conference on Saturday night that had been his most extensive public description of his vision for Gaza after the end of Israel’s military campaign there against Hamas, which controls the enclave. He said that Israel must maintain security control there “for as long as necessary” and have the ability to enter Gaza at will to deal with perceived threats there.
His remarks appeared to be somewhat at odds with the Biden administration, which last week made it clear that there should be no Israeli “re-occupation” of Gaza. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken left open the possibility of a “transition period” after the war, but said that eventually Gaza’s administration “must include Palestinian-led governance and Gaza unified with the West Bank under the Palestinian Authority.”
The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, acknowledged the challenges ahead on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS” on Sunday, saying that the best-case scenario would be that a “reinvigorated Palestinian Authority” assume leadership in Gaza, where Hamas militants ousted it from power in 2007.
The best-case scenario, he said, would also require Israel to agree to “negotiate a two-state solution with the support of the international community.” He added, “What would be a one-state solution, with such a large number of Palestinian people inside that state without any rights? That would be inconceivable.”
Israel has been vague on who might administer Gaza if and when Hamas is pushed out, even as it comes under increasing international criticism for the humanitarian crisis and spiraling death toll from its airstrikes and subsequent ground invasion of the enclave. More than 11,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to Gazan health officials.
The war was prompted by a cross-border assault by Hamas on Oct. 7 in which an estimated 1,200 people were killed and about 240 more were taken as hostages to Gaza, according to Israeli officials. Israel’s stated goals for the war are to dismantle Hamas’s military strength and ability to rule Gaza, as well as to bring the hostages back home.
Asked about a potential hostage deal, Mr. Netanyahu told “Meet the Press” there “could be” one, but added, “The less I say about it, the more I’ve increased the chances that it materializes.” Israeli representatives have been engaging in talks with intermediaries including Qatar.
But Mr. Netanyahu has now made it clear that he will not agree to the Western-backed Palestinian Authority handling civilian affairs in Gaza unless it changes some of its conduct and unless its leader, President Mahmoud Abbas, forthrightly condemns the Oct. 7 assault against Israel — something Mr. Abbas has refrained from doing so far.
As well as the lack of condemnation, Mr. Netanyahu pointed to the teaching of hatred of Israel to children and monetary payments to assailants convicted of attacks against Israelis — all common Israeli accusations against the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in parts of the occupied West Bank.
“The massacre of Oct. 7 proved once and for all that in every place that Israel does not have security control, terrorism entrenches itself,” Mr. Netanyahu said on Saturday. “In the end it comes back to hit us, and that is also true of Judea and Samaria,” he added, referring to the West Bank by its biblical names.
That, he said, is why he will not agree to give up security control of Gaza “under any circumstances.”
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Mr. Abbas, emphasized on Sunday that any Israeli attempt to separate Gaza from the West Bank was destined to fail. In an apparent response to Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks, Mr. Abu Rudeineh said in comments carried by Wafa, the official Palestinian Authority news agency, that “the consolidation of Israel’s occupation in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem would not bring security to anyone.”
Mr. Abu Rudeineh added that stability would only be achieved by ending the Israeli occupation and establishing an independent Palestinian state in those areas.
Mr. Netanyahu, a conservative and Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, has been prosecuting the war amid plummeting approval ratings. The ultranationalist parties that make up a key part of his governing coalition do not see the Palestinian Authority as a partner, and after the Oct. 7 attacks, there is a broad consensus among Israelis that Hamas must be ousted from Gaza — even though its complete elimination will most likely prove impossible.
The view in the Israeli government is that so long as Mr. Abbas has not directly condemned Hamas for the Oct. 7 attacks, any agreement to install his authority in Gaza as a replacement for the group would make Mr. Netanyahu look weak in the eyes of many Israelis, according to an Israeli government official who was not authorized to speak openly about internal discussions.
The Biden administration warned Israel on Sunday against engaging in combat in hospitals in Gaza, even as it agreed with Israel’s view that Hamas uses such civilian facilities to shield its fighters and store its weapons.
“The United States does not want to see firefights in hospitals, where innocent people, patients receiving medical care, are caught in the crossfire,” Jake Sullivan, President Biden’s national security adviser, said in an interview on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “And we’ve had active consultations with Israeli defense forces on this.”
Mr. Sullivan appeared on three Sunday talk shows to deliver the message of caution to America’s ally, even as the Palestinian Red Crescent reported that Israeli tanks and military vehicles had surrounded Al-Quds Hospital, the second-largest in Gaza City, and were shelling the building with 500 patients inside. The Red Crescent said on Sunday that the hospital was “no longer operational” amid power outages. Fighting has also raged in recent days around Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa, among others.
Echoing what Mr. Biden has said repeatedly since the Oct. 7 terrorist attack by Hamas killed an estimated 1,200 people, Mr. Sullivan insisted that Israel “has a right, indeed a responsibility to defend itself.” But at the same time, he used the multiple television appearances to press Israel to follow the laws of war and be careful to minimize civilian casualties in its military campaign to destroy Hamas.
Mr. Sullivan refused to say whether Israel was in fact following the laws of war. “I’m not going to sit here and play judge or jury on that question,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” He said history had shown that Hamas has used hospitals and other civilian facilities for command and control of its terrorist operations. “This is Hamas’s track record,” he said.
He also would not offer an assessment of claims by Hamas that Israeli airstrikes had killed dozens of the more than 200 hostages taken by the group. “We don’t take anything Hamas says at face value,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.” “We simply don’t know how many of the hostages are still alive, how many have been mistreated, how many Hamas itself has killed.”
Nine American citizens and a permanent United States resident remain missing, he said, although it was not certain that they are all among the hostages. Mr. Sullivan added that he planned to meet with family members of the missing Americans this week.
Mr. Sullivan said talks with Hamas may yet secure the release of some of the hostages, but declined to discuss whether such a deal could involve the release of Palestinians who have been imprisoned by Israel.
“There are active negotiations underway between Israel and Qatar, who is communicating with Hamas, and the United States is involved in those discussions, very much involved in those discussions,” he said. “But I’m not going to get into the specifics of what’s on the table, only to say that we are actively working to ensure the safe return of every American being held hostage and every other person being held hostage by Hamas.”
More than 100,000 demonstrators in Paris and in cities across France took to the streets on Sunday to show their solidarity with the country’s Jews and to deplore antisemitic acts that have multiplied across the nation since Hamas’s attack on Israel on Oct. 7.
The marches were called by the leaders of both houses of France’s Parliament, the Senate and the National Assembly, and unfolded under gray and rainy skies on Sunday mostly without incident, with 3,000 police officers in Paris alone patrolling the route.
Tensions have been rising in France and particularly in Paris, home to large Jewish and Muslim communities, after Hamas’s terrorist attack and as Israel pursues its military campaign against the organization in the Gaza Strip. In the last month, over 1,240 antisemitic acts have been reported in France. The police had made 539 arrests as of Nov. 10.
President Emmanuel Macron condemned “the unbearable resurgence of unbridled antisemitism” in France in an open letter published on Saturday in the newspaper Le Parisien, and said there would be “no tolerance for the intolerable.”
In French history, he wrote, antisemitism “has always been a prelude to acts of hate and racism,” adding: “A France where our Jewish citizens are afraid is not France.”
French presidents typically do not participate in marches, and Mr. Macron said that while he would not be present, he would be there “in my heart and in my thoughts.”
Mr. Macron also called President Isaac Herzog of Israel on Sunday to clarify remarks he made to the BBC on Friday in which he said there was “no justification” for bombing civilians who were not tied to Hamas and called on Israel to stop the killing in Gaza.
Mr. Macron said “he does not and did not intend to accuse Israel of intentionally harming innocent civilians in the campaign against the terrorist organization Hamas,” the Élysée Palace said in a statement. Mr. Macron told Mr. Herzog that “he unequivocally supports Israel’s right and duty to self-defense, and expressed his support for Israel’s war against Hamas,” the statement said.
The president of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, and the National Assembly leader, Yaël Braun-Pivet, who herself has been the target of antisemitic threats and is under police protection, said the march was not intended to be a political statement about the war, over which political parties in France have clashed in recent weeks.
Instead, Ms. Braun-Pivet said the march was an appeal for French citizens to show one another and the world “what France is today.”
The fact so many people participated in a march organized only six days ago — according to the Interior Ministry, more than 182,000 people marched across France, including 105,000 in Paris alone — showed that the French were “capable of assembling rapidly, reuniting around our values, our history, and what I’m sure will be our future,” she said.
Several former presidents joined the crowd, including François Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy, as well as five former French prime ministers. Cultural figures attending included the actresses Natalie Portman and Charlotte Gainsbourg.
Mae Adjedj, 23, a film student, said she was heartened by the turnout on Sunday.
“I’m happy we are not alone,” she said. “Often, during antisemitism protests, there are only Jews in the crowd.”
A residential United Nations compound in coastal southern Gaza came under fire on Sunday morning, causing extensive damage, U.N. officials said.
The two-story building, near the Rafah area that borders Egypt, stands alone behind a concrete wall on a stretch of coastal road just off the beach. Its location and status as a U.N. building had been formally communicated to the Israeli army, one of the officials said. The officials all spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the situation with the news media.
The building has been a temporary home to U.N. staff members from around the world, working for some of the organization’s biggest agencies providing assistance in Gaza, including UNRWA, its relief agency for Palestinian refugees; the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization. At the time of the attack six workers from New Zealand, Tanzania, Britain and Sudan were living there after being evacuated from Gaza City, which the Israeli military had urged residents to flee. Another six had been expected to join them later Sunday, the U.N. official said.
The strike on the building happened around 8 a.m. local time on Sunday, and it could be heard from the U.N. office in another compound about half a mile away, the official said. All residents, except for a security guard, had left for the office minutes earlier, and no one was injured. But the strike rendered the building unusable, the U.N. official said, and it is not clear where the U.N. workers will stay.
Videos and photos of the damage reviewed by The New York Times show the point where the building was hit, shattering the concrete perimeter of the compound and crashing into the second floor of the building.
For weeks, Israeli officials have urged residents of Gaza to head south, away from Gaza City, where its airstrikes and ground operations have been focused. As many as three-quarters of the territory’s population — about 1.58 million people — have fled their homes, according to the United Nations.
Juliette Touma, a spokeswoman for UNRWA, said that it was “getting more information” about the incident, and that it would issue a statement later Sunday.
A spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, responding to a request for comment, said he was looking into it.
Pressure is growing on Israel to pause fighting Hamas and to allow more aid to enter the Gaza Strip after five weeks of war have exacerbated a humanitarian crisis, especially at hospitals, which are struggling to provide care.
The situation in Gaza has worsened in the past week, with food and medical supplies dwindling and the death toll surpassing 11,000, according to health authorities. The United Nations, aid groups and key allies, including President Emmanuel Macron of France, urged Israel to stop fighting briefly to allow supplies to enter, foreigners to leave and hostages to be released.
Israel has agreed to short daily pauses to allow Gazans to flee. Nearly 80,000 headed south last week as the Israeli military moved deeper into the enclave.
The tone of world leaders has also shifted in the past two weeks: Many of Israel’s allies who offered unconditional support at the start of the war are now asking for at least a humanitarian pause, if not a cease-fire. Israel has repeatedly rejected calls for a cease-fire since Oct. 7, when Hamas and other militant groups killed at least 1,200 people in an early-morning ambush in southern Israel.
One of the strongest pleas for a pause came from Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken. “Far too many Palestinians have been killed,” he told reporters in New Delhi on Friday, after a diplomatic tour through Middle Eastern and Asian nations. Mr. Blinken’s remarks were the closest he has come to criticizing Israel’s conduct and suggested that the Biden administration was stepping up pressure on Israel to do more to limit harm to civilians.
Israel’s military has struck thousands of targets in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas, and began a ground invasion more than two weeks ago. Officials have said that they are doing everything possible to limit civilian casualties, but that the efforts are complicated because Hamas uses civilians and civilian facilities, including hospitals, to hide its members and weapons.
In Tel Aviv, protesters expressed frustration with the government for a second weekend over its response to the more than 200 hostages that Hamas and other militant groups captured on Oct. 7. So far, efforts led by the United States and Qatar to secure the release of the hostages has made little progress, fueling discontent in Israel with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government.
Protesters in London and New York continued to hold rallies in support of Palestinians and calling for a cease-fire. More than 300,000 people marched in London on Saturday in support of Palestinians and denouncing the rising civilian death toll in Gaza. It was the largest protest in years in London and the latest pro-Palestinian march held there on Saturdays since the start of the war.
Megan Specia, Raja Abdulrahim and Adam Sella contributed reporting.
Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor, on Sunday became the first Republican presidential candidate to visit Israel since Hamas killed an estimated 1,200 people on Oct. 7, starting his visit with a tour of a kibbutz where 58 men, women and children died.
“I want the people of Israel to know that there are hundreds of millions of Americans who stand with them, who understand the atrocities that were committed, and why in the future we need to stand absolutely shoulder to shoulder with Israel,” he said at the kibbutz, Kfar Aza, where he saw burned-out homes still splattered with blood.
Mr. Christie visited Ukraine this summer and has made a robust American foreign policy central to his candidacy. In an interview in Dubai before his visit, he acknowledged that there was mounting pressure on Israel to pull back its forces or take more care with civilians in Gaza, where the Hamas-controlled health authorities say Israeli attacks have killed more than 11,000 people since Oct. 7.
He said the United States should not be dictating military strategy to Israel, but he advised, “Don’t back your Arab friends into a corner either.”
After hearing firsthand of the carnage at the kibbutz and seeing the aftermath, Mr. Christie was less circumspect. Standing with the speaker of the Israeli Parliament, Amir Ohana, Mr. Christie pledged full American support for Israel’s war on Gaza.
He told the speaker that the tens of thousands of protesters who had taken to the streets of American cities demanding a cease-fire represented a small minority of public opinion. And he had a message for those protesters: “Come to Israel and see it for yourself.”
“I think if they did, you wouldn’t change every mind, but you would change some,” he added.
Israeli forces have increasingly closed in since Friday morning on some of Gaza City’s hospitals, where thousands of people are sheltering. Israel has repeatedly ordered hospitals to evacuate, but gunfire and fighting nearby has made fleeing dangerous.
Fighting raged in the area around Gaza’s main hospital, Al-Shifa, where the hospital director said strikes on the compound on Friday killed several people, and a complete power outage on Saturday contributed to a number of additional deaths, according to the Gazan health ministry.
Israeli armored vehicles were seen outside Rantisi children’s hospital on Friday, in a video verified by the Times, and there were later reports of fighting outside the hospital. Another video showed smoke billowing there on Saturday.
A video taken at the adjacent Al-Nasr Hospital, also a pediatric hospital, showed a line of men, women and children waving pieces of white fabric on Friday.
Marwan Jilani, the director general of the Palestine Red Crescent Society, said on Friday night that three other hospitals had been targeted in the last 24 hours: Al-Awda, Indonesian hospital and Al-Quds hospital.
The Israeli military said that it was “in the midst of ongoing intense fighting against Hamas in the vicinity of the area in question” and “adheres to the law by taking all feasible measures to mitigate harm to civilians.”
The chief of the U.N.’s World Health Organization said on Friday that it had verified more than 250 attacks on health care facilities in Gaza and the West Bank, including hospitals, clinics, ambulances and patients.
The head of Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah militia, Hassan Nasrallah, said on Saturday that his group intended to keep up pressure on Israel and claimed that it was striking deeper into Israeli territory with powerful new weapons.
Since war erupted more than a month ago between Israel and Hamas, the armed Palestinian group that controls Gaza, Israel and Hezbollah have clashed repeatedly along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. Hamas and Hezbollah are backed by Iran and share the goal of eradicating Israel.
But in the assessment of analysts, Israel and Hezbollah appeared to be calibrating their actions to avoid setting off what Israeli officials fear could become a broader regional war. Mr. Nasrallah has previously described Hezbollah’s objective as a controlled battle along the border aimed at sapping Israel’s morale and resources.
Mr. Nasrallah once again stopped short on Saturday of calling for an immediate, all-out regional war, echoing remarks he made in a speech last week, though he continued to dangle the threat.
For now, Hezbollah — along with militant groups from the West Bank and Yemen — will instead continue to support Hamas by keeping Israeli forces engaged on multiple fronts.
“The pressure must continue,” Mr. Nasrallah said during his televised address in Lebanon, adding that events on the battlefield would dictate whether this would grow into a bigger conflict. “We are in a battle of steadfastness and patience.”
As clashes continued along Israel’s increasingly volatile border with Lebanon, the Hezbollah leader said his group was now trying to hit targets deeper inside Israel with newer and more advanced weapons.
“There has been a quantitative improvement in terms of the number of operations and the type of weapon used,” he claimed, adding that Hezbollah for the first time had used drones and powerful new missiles and rockets — some of them containing as much as 500 kilograms of explosives — or roughly 1,100 pounds — against Israeli forces in recent days.
Hezbollah has also increasingly deployed surface-to-air missiles against Israeli drones, which have caused heavy casualties among Hezbollah fighters in recent weeks, according to the Israeli military.
In response to what the Israelis noted was an uptick in attacks by Hezbollah with more sophisticated weaponry, the Israeli military stepped up its airstrikes inside Lebanon on Friday evening, targeting Hezbollah weapons depots and intelligence infrastructure after a series of Hezbollah attacks using self-destructing drones and missiles seriously injured four Israeli soldiers.
Last week, after an Israeli drone strike killed a woman and three girls in southern Lebanon, Hezbollah also fired a barrage of Grad rockets at the northern Israeli city of Kiryat Shmona, a first for the group since the fighting began.
Hwaida Saad and Yara Bayoumy contributed reporting.