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Arms distributed to Israelis in the north of the country

Israeli soldiers drive an armoured personal carrier near the border with Lebanon   -  
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Ariel Schalit/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.


Arms are being distributed to Israelis living in the north of the country at a weapons distribution point at the Ayyelet HaShahar Kibbutz, near the Lebanese border.

Israel faces a new front in its war with the Palestinian militant group, Hamas, massing tanks on the border after repeated clashes in recent days with the Lebanese militant group, Hezbollah.

Israel has declared war on Hamas, vowing to “crush and destroy” the group.

"It will be a long a difficult war, but we will prevail and despite the difficult events we are prepared to defend our citizens against any threat," said Israeli Minister of Defence, Yoav Gallant.

The conflict has resulted in a large number of fatalities on both sides.

Israeli military said the death toll now stands at 1,200, with more than 2,700 injured and scores taken hostage.

In Gaza, the death toll has risen to at least 1,300 people, with around 5,600 wounded, Palestinian media reported, citing the enclave's health ministry.

Hundreds of thousands of Israeli soldiers have converged on the Gaza border, ready for a potential land invasion as it continues its air campaign, which the military says targets Hamas infrastructure, commanders, and operating centres.

Israel has also imposed a "complete siege" on the Palestinian territory, cutting off electricity, water and fuel supplies into Gaza which is home to some 2,4 million people.

It said earlier on Thursday that the supplies would not be resumed until Hamas militants freed all the hostages it held in the Gaza Strip.

United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said on Monday he was "deeply distressed" by Israel’s siege of the Palestinian enclave.

Fears have grown for Gaza's residents caught in the crossfire who are now enduring the fifth war in 15 years in the long-blockaded territory.

Guterres has urged the release of all hostages and the lifting of the siege, and stressed that "civilians must be protected at all times".

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