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France 24
France 24

Israeli president says war against Hamas ‘bloody and difficult’

A Palestinian man ferries water at a makeshift camp for displaced people in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 4, 2024. © Mohammed Abed, AFP

Israel is fighting a “bloody and difficult war”, President Isaac Herzog said in a statement to mark the conflict reaching its half-year mark on Sunday. His comments come as US, Israeli and Hamas negotiators are set to meet in Cairo in a renewed push for a ceasefire and hostage-release deal. Read our blog to see how the day's events unfolded.

This blog is no longer being updated. For more coverage of the Israel-Hamas war, please click here.


  • Tens of thousands of Israelis took to the streets of Tel Aviv and other cities on Saturday to protest against Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and to call for new elections.

  • Hamas said that delegation headed by the group’s deputy chief in Gaza, Khalil Al-Hayya, will go to Cairo on Sunday for ceasefire talks.

  • Israel's army said on Saturday its troops recovered the body of a hostage abducted by Palestinian militants during the October 7 attacks on southern Israel. "The body of the abductee Elad Katzir … was rescued overnight from Khan Younis and returned to Israeli territory", the army said in a statement.                                           

  • The Israeli military’s killing of seven aid workers in Gaza has triggered unprecedented criticism from European leaders, who are stepping up calls for a ceasefire and in some cases halting arms sales to Israel as the war’s toll mounts.  

  • Australia's Foreign Minister Penny Wong said Saturday that information from Israel about the death of an Australian aid worker killed in a Gaza air strike was "not sufficient".                     

  • At least 33,137 Palestinians have been killed and 75,815 wounded since Israel began its offensive on Gaza, according to the health ministry in the Hamas-run enclave. Around 1,170 people were killed in the Hamas-led October 7 attacks and 250 people taken hostage, according to Israeli figures, with 132 still missing.

Yesterday's key developments:

  • US Representative Nancy Pelosi, former speaker of the House and a key ally of President Joe Biden, signed a letter from dozens of congressional Democrats to the president and Secretary of State Antony Blinken urging a halt to weapons transfers to Israel. 

  • The Israeli military said that it had dismissed two officers and reprimanded three others for their roles in drone strikes in Gaza that killed seven aid workers on a food-delivery mission, saying the officers had mishandled critical information and violated the army’s rules of engagement.
  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he was "deeply troubled by reports that the Israeli military's bombing campaign includes Artificial Intelligence as a tool in the identification of targets, particularly in densely populated residential areas, resulting in a high level of civilian casualties."
  • British Foreign Minister David Cameron said that major reform was needed from Israel to ensure the safety of aid workers after the deaths this week of seven humanitarian staff, three of whom were UK citizens.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

About casualty figures from Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry:

Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, the largest in the enclave, receives data from every hospital in the strip. Hospital administrators say they keep records of every wounded person occupying a bed and every body arriving at a morgue. The ministry also collects from other sources including the Palestinian Red Crescent.

The health ministry does not report how Palestinians were killed, whether from Israeli airstrikes and artillery barrages or errant Palestinian rocket fire. It describes all casualties as victims of “Israeli aggression”. The ministry also does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. 

Throughout four wars and numerous skirmishes between Israel and Hamas, UN agencies have cited the Hamas-run health ministry’s death tolls in regular reports. The International Committee of the Red Cross and Palestinian Red Crescent also use the numbers.

In the aftermath of war, the UN humanitarian office has published final death tolls based on its own research into medical records. The UN's counts have largely been consistent with the Gaza health ministry’s, with small discrepancies. 

For more on the Gaza health ministry’s tolls, click here.

(FRANCE 24 with AP) 

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