Suffering continues as Israel-Hamas ceasefire remains elusive

A US-drafted resolution calling for a "humanitarian pause" and a Russian resolution seeking a "humanitarian ceasefire" failed to pass in the UN Security Council on Wednesday due to a rift between the United States and Russia.

Both resolutions condemned the October 7 terror attack by Islamic group Hamas in Israel. Gaza residents and the families of the hostages taken by Hamas are growing increasingly worried.

Life in the northern Gaza Strip

A Palestinian man who is a refugee in the northern Gaza Strip spoke with NHK by phone on October 23 under the condition of anonymity. He said he wants the world to know just how dangerous the situation in Gaza is right now.

On October 19, an aerial attack struck the Church of Saint Porphyrius in the northern Gaza Strip, where the man, his family and relatives, and many others were sheltering. At least a dozen people died.

"It was the most frightening experience I've ever had," said the man.

One of his relatives was killed and another seriously injured.

The man said the Greek Orthodox church and nearby facilities were suddenly hit. He added that about 400 refugees were sheltering there at the time.

He described the strike as being like an earthquake but with a thunderous noise. The man said people worked all night to rescue those buried in the rubble.

An October 20 photo of the Church of Saint Porphyrius, which the church says was hit by an Israeli airstrike.

The body of the man's relative was recovered from the debris after 10 hours. He said his relative had been a doctor. His injured relative remains hospitalized.

'It's a city of ghosts.'

A leaflet he saw said that those who did not flee from the north to the south could be considered to have links to terrorist organizations, but the man said he would not move.

He explained, "We know we have been told to go to the south, but honestly, we cannot go there because we have no place to stay. And nobody can find a safe place in the south, anyway."

The man said he constantly hears strikes.

"It's a city of ghosts, everything is destroyed."

He added that he has no idea what day, date or time it is, saying he has lost those senses.

Aid not reaching northern Gaza

On October 21, humanitarian supplies reached southern Gaza from Egypt via the Rafah border crossing. But the man said no aid has reached the north.

He added, "Relief items are for southerners, not for us."

The church had stocks of food, water and other items. But the man said because of the attack they could soon run out of essential supplies.

Before the end of his phone call with NHK, he called for outsiders to pray for the people of Gaza.

"We still feel we are in a nightmare.
We are still under rockets and bombardment.
We want to live in a peaceful place.
I want everyone in Japan to pray for peace.
Pray for a ceasefire."

Hamas hostages

The Israeli government on Wednesday disclosed the latest information on the nationalities of the hostages held by Hamas. It said 135 of the roughly 220 hostages are foreign nationals consisting of 25 nationalities. The largest number are Thai nationals at 54, followed by Argentine nationals at 15, and German and US nationals at 12 each. These numbers are believed to include people with dual nationality.

Major Israeli media outlet Haaretz on Wednesday quoted Israeli sources and others as saying the release of many hostages could take place within a few days.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also said in a speech on Wednesday night that he will do all he can to bring the hostages home.

Families request international cooperation

Four Israelis whose family members were taken hostage by Hamas attended an October 25 news conference in Paris organized by a Jewish group. They called for international cooperation to secure the release of the hostages.

A woman, aged 25, whose younger brother is a hostage, said she received a phone call from him as he was fleeing the music venue.

She said her brother was screaming and saying the terrorists were shooting. She said she continued to encourage him for several hours before he was captured. The last thing he told her was, "Shani, they got me."

She said the release of two Israeli hostages on Monday gave them hope, but added that she wants Hamas to free all the hostages.

The sister of a hostage calls for the release of all those held by Hamas, at an October 25 press conference in Paris.

Another woman, aged 24, whose 38-year-old cousin is a hostage, thanked French President Emmanuel Macron for visiting Israel on Tuesday to call for the release of the hostages.

She requested the cooperation of other countries to secure the hostages' release, saying, "This is an international matter." She added, "We must act now. There is no time. We must return all captives back home."

She also called on the International Committee of the Red Cross to visit Gaza and investigate the situation.

The cousin of a hostage called for international cooperation to secure the release of all those held by Hamas at an October 25 press conference in Paris.

The organizers said the families of other hostages will also visit Spain, Belgium and other countries to request their cooperation.