Concern deepened Saturday over the growing humanitarian crisis in the war-torn Gaza Strip, with aid agencies warning of unprecedented levels of desperation and looming famine.Dozens more Gazans were killed in Israeli strikes, the Hamas-run territory's health ministry said, after Israel's spy chief joined talks with mediators in Paris seeking to unblock negotiations on a truce.Israeli leaders planned to convene to hear of possible progress in mediated negotiations on a new Gaza truce. Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said that the war cabinet would be briefed by the delegates.As civilians in the besieged territory struggled to get food and supplies, the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees warned Gazans were "in extreme peril while the world watches".In northern Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp, bedraggled children held plastic containers and battered cooking pots for what little food was available.Food is running out, with aid agencies unable to get into the area because of the bombing, while the trucks that do try to get through face frenzied looting.Residents have taken to eating scavenged scraps of rotten corn, animal fodder unfit for human consumption and even leaves.The World Food Programme said this week its teams reported "unprecedented levels of desperation" while the United Nations warned that 2.2mn people were on the brink of famine.An Israeli delegation led by Mossad intelligence agency chief David Barnea travelled to Paris for a fresh push towards a deal over a ceasefire. Egypt, Qatar and the United States have been spearheading efforts to secure a deal.Israel's offensive has killed at least 29,606 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest tally released by Gaza's health ministry.Pressure has mounted on Netanyahu's government to negotiate a ceasefire and secure the release of the hostages.Hamas said Saturday that Israeli forces launched more than 70 strikes on civilian homes in Gazan cities including Deir al-Balah, Khan Yunis and Rafah over the previous 24 hours.The health ministry said at least 92 people were killed.
The UN said yesterday gross human rights violations, possibly including war crimes, had been committed in Israel and the Palestinian territories since the start of the war in Gaza.In its annual report, covering the 12 months to October 31, 2023, the UN Human Rights Office said clear violations of international humanitarian law, “including possible war crimes, have been committed by all parties” since October first week.“The entrenched impunity reported by our office for decades cannot be permitted to continue,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk.“There must be accountability on all sides for violations seen over 56 years of (Israeli) occupation and the 16 years of blockade of Gaza.” “Justice is a pre-requisite for ending cycles of violence and for Palestinians and Israelis to be able to take meaningful steps towards peace.”The report cited unlawful killings, hostage-taking, the wanton destruction of civilian property, collective punishment, strikes on civilian infrastructure, forced displacement, incitement to hatred and violence and torture.The war in Gaza began after the Hamas group that controls the Palestinian territory stormed Israel in the first week of October.Israel’s retaliatory bombardment and ground offensive in Gaza have killed at least 29,514 people, most of them women and children, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry. In less than five months, much of Gaza has been flattened and its population of around 2.4mn has been pushed to the brink of famine, the UN has said.WAR CRIMESIsrael’s response has led to “massive suffering of Palestinians, including through the killing of civilians on a broad scale, extensive repeated displacement, destruction of homes, and the denial of sufficient food and other essentials of life”, it said.“The blockade and siege imposed on Gaza amount to collective punishment and may also amount to the use of starvation as a method of war, which are war crimes.” The report identified three “emblematic” Israeli strikes — two on the Jabalia refugee camp and one in Gaza City — which caused enormous destruction.“Launching an indiscriminate attack resulting in death or injury to civilians, or an attack in the knowledge that it will cause excessive incidental civilian loss, injury or damage, are war crimes,” said Turk.
Gaza truce talks were underway in Paris Friday, in what appears to be the most serious push for weeks to halt the fighting in the battered Palestinian enclave and see Israeli and foreign hostages released."There are budding signs of optimism about being able to move forward toward the start of a serious negotiation," a source said. Egypt's Al Qahera TV News also reported that the talks had begun.An official from Hamas said the group had wrapped up ceasefire talks in Cairo and was now waiting to see what mediators -- Qatar, Egypt and the US -- bring back from the weekend talks with Israel.Mediators have ramped up efforts to secure a ceasefire in Gaza, in the hope of heading off an Israeli assault on the Gaza city of Rafah where more than a million displaced people are sheltering at the southern edge of the enclave.Israel says it will attack the city if no truce agreement is reached soon. Washington has called on its close ally not to do so, warning of vast civilian casualties if an assault on the city goes ahead.Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh met Egyptian mediators in Cairo to discuss a truce this past week on his first visit since December.The Hamas official, who asked not to be identified, said the group did not offer any new proposal at the talks with the Egyptians, but was waiting to see what the mediators would bring back from their talks with the Israelis."We discussed our proposal with them (the Egyptians) and we are going to wait until they return from Paris," the Hamas official said.Two Palestinian officials familiar with the negotiations said Hamas has not changed its stance in the latest push to reach a deal, and still demands that a truce end with an Israeli pullout.As night fell over the impoverished Strip, an air strike targeting a residential unit in central Gaza's Deir Al-Balah killed at least 22 Palestinians, health ministry spokesman Ashraf Al-Qidra said.Health officials said many family members of Mahmoud Abu Zaeiter, a comedian with 1.2mn online followers, were among the dead.The Gaza health ministry said earlier that 104 people had been killed and 160 others were wounded in Israeli military strikes in the past 24 hours.At least 29,514 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza since Oct 7, the Gaza health ministry said Friday.
Qatar underlined the need for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to consider all opinions that view the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories illegal, illegitimate and based on apartheid, stressing that ending this situation requires establishing a situation that gives the Palestinians their rights.Qatar also considered that the credibility of international law depends the ICJ's decision and opinion, pointing out that the court has jurisdiction, and there is no reason to refrain from giving its opinion.In Qatar's plea before the court in the advisory sessions on Palestine in The Hague Friday, Qatar's Representative to the International Court of Justice, HE Dr Mutlaq bin Majid al-Qahtani, voiced the State's rejection of the double standards, stressing that the international law must be applied equally to all.He noted that Israel relegates Palestinians to fragmented enclaves, restricts their movement, and renders their daily lives all but unlivable, and isolates the residents of Gaza from the world since 2007. It has imposed a system of draconian checkpoints, subjecting millions of Palestinians to daily indignities, in addition to imposing an unprecedented lockdown on the entire civilian territory of the West Bank. Settlers, with the support of the occupation authorities, are practising violence against Palestinians, at a time when Israeli forces are targeting Palestinians in the West Bank with aircraft and missiles, he added.Dr al-Qahtani said that Israeli occupation's actions confirm that the situation in Palestine is the most pressing threat to international peace and security, and that the ICJ must consider the repercussions of Israel's practices that must stop, highlighting that Israel's illegal practices are not a coincidence, especially since it has obstructed all peaceful solutions and continues to illegally occupy Palestinian lands.In Qatar's plea before the ICJ, Dr al-Qahtani said that Israel is pursuing an apartheid policy with regard to its settlement project, and its practices constitute a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law, indicating that the basis of its project is settlement and the imposition of settlers on the occupied territories, as the war in Gaza was exploited to cover settlement activities in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
An Israeli air strike on south Lebanon killed a woman and a girl yesterday, prompting Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah movement to retaliate with rocket fire.The Hezbollah movement and Israel have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since the Israel-Hamas war broke out in the first week of October.Lebanon’s state-run National News Agency said that Khadija Salman was killed and her daughter seriously wounded in the “enemy” strike on the southern village of Majdal Zun.Requesting anonymity, a hospital source confirmed the woman had died and her daughter remained in serious condition, adding that a young girl was also killed.Rescue workers said several other people were wounded and rushed to hospital.In the evening, Hezbollah said it fired several rockets at the Matzuva kibbutz across the border in Israel “in response to Israeli attacks on villages and civilian homes” including Majdal Zun.The movement also claimed responsibility for 11 other operations against Israeli military positions on the border.The cross-border exchanges since October have killed at least 271 people on the Lebanese side, most of them Hezbollah fighters but also including 42 civilians, according to an AFP tally.On the Israeli side, 10 soldiers and six civilians have been killed, according to the Israeli army.
Israeli troops killed three Palestinian fighters during an overnight raid in the northern West Bank city of Jenin, the military said yesterday.The Palestinian health ministry confirmed at least one death in the Israeli operation, the latest in a months-long military crackdown across the occupied West Bank since Hamas’s October first week attack on Israel.“In a joint counterterrorism activity in the city of Jenin, IDF soldiers apprehended 14 suspects, killed three terrorists and struck additional terrorists,” the army said in a statement.“During the activity, the soldiers located weapons and exposed explosive devices planted under routes in order to attack IDF soldiers.”It said soldiers came under fire during the operation and an Israeli aircraft struck fighters.The official Palestinian news agency Wafa said Israeli troops stormed the city during the night.“An undercover Israeli force besieged two houses in the camp sparking violent confrontations during which three Palestinians were also injured,” Wafa said, adding that troops also struck “a house with a missile” in the adjacent refugee camp.Marwan Aref Ali, father of one of the men killed in the raid, said his son had been arrested and wounded several times before.Ali came to know about his son’s death from an Israeli army officer.“The officer switched on his mobile phone and said to me ‘Is this a picture of Arif?’ I said yes,” Ali said, tears welling in his eyes.Later yesterday, Palestinian gunmen led a crowd of mourners in a funeral procession for the son, an AFP photographer reported.Charred vehicles and bullet-pocked walls bore testimony to the fierce clashes in the overnight raid.Three sons of Siham Ahmed Qasim Jaber were arrested, she told AFP, adding she was visiting her ailing daughter late Tuesday when she heard that troops had entered her house.“I tried to go back but I was told that there were snipers and I could not return,” she said.“What will we do? We have to remain patient,” she said, pointing to a picture of one of her sons.Jenin has been the focus of repeated Israeli raids which have often led to clashes with Palestinian fighters. The city’s refugee camp is one of the most crowded and impoverished in the West Bank and has become a hub of activity in recent years.Violence was already on the increase across the West Bank and has only escalated since the war in Gaza erupted.The territory has seen frequent Palestinian attacks on Israelis and near-daily raids by the Israeli military that often turn deadly.Israeli troops and settlers have killed at least 400 Palestinians in the West Bank since the Gaza war began, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah.Israel captured the West Bank – including east Jerusalem, which it later annexed – in the Arab-Israeli war of 1967.The Palestinians claim the territory as the heartland of their future independent state.
The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is inhumane, the head of the World Health Organisation said yesterday, calling the Palestinian territory a “death zone”.WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas and demanded unhindered access for international aid.“The health and humanitarian situation in Gaza is inhumane and continues to deteriorate,” Tedros told a media briefing.“Gaza has become a death zone. Much of the territory has been destroyed,” he added.“What type of world do we live in when people cannot get food and water, or where people who cannot even walk are not able to receive care? “What type of world do we live in when health workers are at risk of being bombed as they carry out their life-saving work? “What type of world do we live in when hospitals must close because there is no more power or medicines to help save patients, and they are being targeted by military forces?” The war started when the Hamas group that controls Gaza launched an unprecedented storming of Israel in the first week of October.Israel’s retaliatory campaign in Gaza has killed at least 29,313 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest count by the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.“We need a ceasefire now. We need hostages to be released. We need the bombs to stop dropping and we need unfettered humanitarian access. Humanity must prevail,” Tedros said.Heavy fighting again rocked Gaza yesterday as aid agencies warned of looming famine and new talks were held in Cairo aimed at obtaining an Israel-Hamas ceasefire and hostage release deal.“Severe malnutrition has shot up dramatically since the war started, from under 1% to more than 15% in some areas, putting more lives at risk,” Tedros said.“This figure will rise the longer the war goes on and supplies are interrupted. We note with apprehension that the World Food Programme cannot get into northern Gaza with supplies.”
Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Jasem Mohamed Albudaiwi confirmed that the GCC countries are keen to ensure the stability of global oil markets through cooperation with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC).During his meeting with Secretary General of OPEC Haitham Al Ghais, the Secretary General praised the great efforts made by the OPEC, and its important and vital role in maintaining the stability and balance of oil markets and facing their future challenges, in coordination with member states.Ways of enhancing cooperation between the GCC and OPEC were discussed during the meeting in several areas, most notably the permanent and ongoing coordination of oil policies between the Cooperation Council and the Organization, to ensure safe and stable energy supplies, especially in light of the rapid regional and international developments and circumstances that have affected global energy markets.
An Israeli ground offensive in Rafah would turn the southern Gaza city into a "graveyard" and heighten the looming risk of famine, leaders of global humanitarian groups warned on Tuesday."The consequences of a full scale assault on Rafah are truly unimaginable," Avril Benoit, executive director of Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) in the United States, told reporters."Carrying out a military offensive there would turn it into a graveyard," Benoit said at a press briefing by MSF, Refugees International, Oxfam, Amnesty International and other groups.Benoit said Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians live in crowded shelters and tent camps, is the "end of the line.""It's the last hub of healthcare services and humanitarian assistance for the people in Gaza," she said. "Attacking Rafah effectively means cutting off the lifelines of people who have already lost everything except their lives."Jeremy Konyndyk, president of Refugees International, said Israeli strikes have made it "virtually impossible" for humanitarian groups to safely operate inside Gaza and there was a growing risk of famine."People, mostly at this point in the north, are already right on the brink of famine," Konyndyk said."The risk here, if there is not a meaningful humanitarian operation allowed to operate in an unfettered way at scale throughout Gaza, is famine," he said."And that famine will occur not because of any natural phenomenon but simply because of the manner in which this war is being conducted and the persistent and intentional denials of humanitarian access principally by the Israeli government."Konyndyk also said it was a "mirage" to believe that the population of Rafah can be safely evacuated, because there is nowhere else safe for them to go.MSF's Benoit urged the United States and other nations to call for a ceasefire."A ceasefire is the only way to prevent more deaths and suffering in Gaza," she said. "Our teams on the ground continue to witness patients unable to access the medical care they need due to repeated and persistent attacks on healthcare facilities and their surroundings."One of our doctors in Rafah recently told us that she's writing the names of her children on their arms and legs so that they can be identified easily if killed in a bombing," she said.
The United States Tuesday again vetoed a draft United Nations Security Council resolution on the Israel-Hamas war, blocking a demand for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire as it instead pushes the 15-member body to call for a temporary ceasefire linked to the release of hostages held by Hamas.Thirteen council members voted in favour of the Algerian-drafted text, while Britain abstained. It was the third US veto of a draft resolution since the start of the current fighting on Oct. 7."Demanding an immediate, unconditional ceasefire without an agreement requiring Hamas to release the hostages will not bring about a durable peace. Instead, it could extend the fighting between Hamas and Israel," US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield told the council ahead of the vote.The Algerian-drafted resolution vetoed by the US did not link a ceasefire to the release of hostages. It separately demanded an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages."The message given today to Israel with this veto is that it can continue to get away with murder," Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour told the council.The veto provoked a chorus of criticism from countries including China and Russia -- which have rejected the resolute US backing for Israel -- but also from US allies including France, Malta and Slovenia.Israeli attacks continueIsrael kept up Tuesday its bombardment of the war-torn Gaza Strip where concern grew about a growing humanitarian crisis.As diplomatic powers wrangled, Israel continued to hit Gaza with air strikes and ground combat that killed a total of 103 Palestinians in the past 24 hours, its health ministry said.Israel's campaign has killed at least 29,195 people, mostly women and children, according to the latest count by the territory's health ministry.Strikes continued into Tuesday evening in Gaza's southernmost city Rafah and to the east of Gaza City, the ministry said.The UN has repeatedly sounded alarm over Gaza's dire humanitarian situation and warned food shortages could lead to an "explosion" of preventable child deaths.Despite having only just re-started much-needed deliveries into the hard-hit north, the UN's food programme said it had been forced to stop after having "faced complete chaos and violence due to the collapse of civil order".
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva accused Israel Sunday of committing "genocide" against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip and compared its actions to Adolf Hitler's campaign of extermination."What's happening in the Gaza Strip isn't a war, it's a genocide," Lula told reporters in Addis Ababa where he was attending an African Union summit."It's not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It's a war between a highly prepared army and women and children," added the veteran leftist."What's happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people hasn't happened at any other moment in history. Actually, it has happened: when Hitler decided to kill the Jews." They were among the strongest comments yet on the conflict from Lula, a prominent voice for the global south whose country currently holds the rotating presidency of the G20.The 78-year-old leader condemned Hamas's October first week storming of Israel.But he has since grown vocally critical of Israel's retaliatory military campaign.Israel's retaliatory assault on Gaza has killed at least 28,858 people, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.Lula criticised Western countries' recent decisions to halt aid to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, after Israel accused some of its employees of involvement in the October first week storming.Lula, who met with Palestinian prime minister Mohamed Shtayyeh Saturday on the sidelines of the summit, has said Brazil will increase its own contribution to the agency, and urged other countries to do the same."When I see the rich world announce that it's halting its contributions to humanitarian aid for the Palestinians, I just imagine how big these people's political awareness is and how big the spirit of solidarity in their hearts is," Lula said."We need to stop being small when we need to be big." He reiterated his call for a two-state solution to the conflict, with Palestine "definitively recognised as a full and sovereign state."
Iran unveiled two new air defence systems on Saturday, state media reported, with tensions high in the Middle East amid the war in Gaza.“The Arman anti-ballistic missile system and the Azarakhsh low-altitude air defence system, built by the ministry of defence, were unveiled this morning,” the official IRNA news agency said.The unveiling of the new weapons comes at a time of heightened regional tensions with the war between Israel and Hamas raging into a fifth month.Even before the war, Israel and Iran were implacable foes, with Israel fiercely opposed to Tehran’s nuclear programme.In 2023, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for Iran to face a “credible military threat” to prevent it attaining nuclear weapons.Tehran has always insisted its nuclear programme is peaceful and denies seeking a nuclear bomb.The Arman missile system revealed on Saturday “has a medium range and a high altitude that can identify targets at 180 kilometres and engage and destroy them at 120 kilometres,” Defence Minister Mohamed-Reza Ashtiani said during the unveiling ceremony, IRNA reported.The agency said the system could take on “six targets simultaneously” while the Azarakhsh defence system can be mounted on multiple vehicle types and “uses radar, electro-optical system and thermal seekers to detect and track its target.”Iran hailed Hamas’s surprise October first week storming but denied any involvement while fighter groups in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Yemen have increasingly attacked US andcoalition troops deployed to Iraq and Syria.One such attack on January 28 on a base in Jordan killed three US military personnel, leading Washington to launch its own strikes against targets in Syria and Iraq.The United States, alongside Britain, also launched repeated strikes against Yemen’s Houthis in response to the group’spersistent attacks oncommercial shipping.
Israel is waging a concerted campaign aimed at destroying UNRWA, the head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said in an interview published on Saturday.Philippe Lazzarini said calls for his resignation were part of the Israeli government’s push.“Right now we are dealing with an expanded, concerted campaign by Israel aimed at destroying UNRWA,” he told the Swiss newspaper group Tamedia.“It is a long-term political goal because it is believed that if the aid agency is abolished, the status of the Palestinian refugees will be resolved once and for all — and with it, the right of return. There is a much larger political goal behind this.“Just look at the number of actions Israel is taking against UNRWA,” the main aid body in the Gaza Strip, he said.He cited measures in the Israeli parliament, moves to remove the agency’s VAT exemption and orders for contractors at Israel’s port of Ashdod to “stop handling certain food deliveries for UNRWA”.“And all these demands come from the government.” Furthermore, Lazzarini says more than 150 UNRWA installations have been hit since the Gaza war began.Israel has called for Lazzarini to step down following claims that a Hamas tunnel had been discovered under its evacuated Gaza City headquarters.Lazzarini said the tunnel was 20 metres below ground and UNRWA as a humanitarian organisation did not have the capabilities to be examining what was underground in Gaza.He also said there was “no reason” to comply with Israel’s lone call for him to quit, “especially since my resignation would not improve the situation at UNRWA”.“The criticisms are not concerned with me personally, but with the organisation as a whole. The calls for resignation are part of the campaign to destroy UNRWA”, he said.MONEY RUNNING OUTThe Gaza war began with Hamas’ October first week storming of Israel.Israel’s subsequent assault on Gaza has since killed at least 28,858 people, mostly women and children, according to the Palestinian territory’s health ministry.Several countries — including the US, Britain, Germany and Japan — have suspended funding to UNRWA in response to Israeli allegations that some of its staff participated in the October first week storming of Israel.Lazzarini said $438mn has been frozen — the equivalent of more than half of expected income for 2024. “If all countries continue to withhold their payments, UNRWA’s funding will very quickly be at risk,” he said.“From March onwards, expenses exceed income. And without new donors, UNRWA will have to cease operations in April.” He said this applied not only to the Gaza Strip but also to work in the West Bank, Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.Lazzarini said he was holding meetings with donors and some were “willing to reconsider their decision”.He said the European Commission would pay its contribution of around 82mn euros ($88mn) again from March.
A climate of fear pervades a hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin, where patients and doctors are reeling from last month’s deadly raid by Israeli agents disguised as medics.At the rehabilitation ward at Jenin’s Ibn Sina hospital, two patients recalled hearing the screams of a nurse as Israeli forces reached the third floor.“I opened the door and saw a man. I didn’t know they were special forces,” said a patient, a grey hoodie pulled up over his head to conceal his face. “The man was choking the nurse with his hand and hit her with the butt of his gun.” His account matched that of an elderly patient, speaking to AFP while exercising along the corridor clutching a walking frame, who recalled hearing shouting while he stayed put in his room.Neither knew that through a sky-blue door just metres away, the Israeli unit shot dead three Palestinians, all fighters, including a paraplegic patient hospitalised for months.“It’s toughest at night,” said the patient, who had been shouted at by the undercover agents to shut his door during the assault.All but one person in the hospital spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, as they were worried about their safety.Across the ward, room 376 had been scrubbed clean and lay empty.Only on closer inspection were bullet holes visible in the abandoned hospital bed and an adjacent chair where the young men had been shot.One of the staffers showed AFP photos on his phone of a bullet, another of flesh left on the bed in the January 30 raid.A medic said he was approached by a man dressed as a doctor, who spoke perfect Arabic and showed the ID pinned to his chest before asking him to unlock room 376.Inside were fighters Basel Ghazawi — unable to walk after being shot in October — his brother Mohamed Ghazawi and friend Mohamed Jalamnah.The Israeli military justified the killing inside a medical facility, which are granted special protection under international law, by saying the trio were “fighters” who were “hiding” in the hospital.The World Health Organisation said it was “appalled”.Such an attack “creates fear and is dangerous for health workers and patients”, said Rik Peeperkorn, the agency’s envoy for the Palestinian territories.“It reduces the trust in health workers and hospitals, putting them in danger, and also diminishing confidence in the health system, therefore decreasing people’s access to care,” he said in a February 2 statement.While Ibn Sina has continued to function, serving the Jenin area of the northern West Bank, there was palpable unease compared with earlier AFP visits.Tawfiq al-Shubaki, head of the surgery department, admitted the staff “feel scared” and a sense of “insecurity”.“It’s a tough feeling for the medical personnel, especially as it reflects negatively on the clinical staff themselves and on the patients,” he said.Medics in Jenin have become accustomed to dealing with emergencies, as people wounded during Israeli military raids in the nearby refugee camp are frequently rushed to Ibn Sina.They must balance such crises alongside care for other patients, such as those in the cardiology department, intensive care or neonatal ward, all of which have been affected by the raid, according to Shubaki.“You should feel safe in your workplace. What happened impacts the effectiveness and the performance of the medical team,” he said.The Jenin raid came against the backdrop of the war in Gaza, during which Israeli soldiers have repeatedly raided hospitals.Speaking in the West Bank city of Ramallah, seat of the Palestinian Authority, Health Minister Mai Kayla said the same pattern was being repeated.“Our message is to stop (Israel) abusing the health system in Palestine. Stop the aggression on the hospitals in Gaza as well as in the West Bank — they started to do it also in the West Bank,” she said during a February 7 rally.As well as being afraid of a repeat of the special forces raid — the first such operation in eight years — the killings have also created suspicion among patients and medics.Not knowing how Israeli agents plotted their assault, some have been speculating that a hospital insider could have collaborated with special forces.“For more than a week this informant has been in the imagination, and on my mind,” said the patient, still in his hospital room.“I’m terrified.”
Israeli plan to storm Rafah prompt global concernIsraeli forces carried out arrests in Gaza's largest functioning hospital, health officials and the military said on Saturday, as airstrikes hit across the enclave and rain battered Palestinians taking shelter in Rafah.Israeli forces raided the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis on Thursday as they pressed their war on Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, that rules the enclave."Occupation forces detained a large number of medical staff members inside Nasser Medical Complex, which they (Israel) turned into a military base," said Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra.Hamas has denied allegations that its fighters use medical facilities for cover. At least two released Israeli hostages have said they were held in Nasser.The Israeli incursion into the hospital has raised alarm about patients, medical workers and displaced Palestinians sheltering there.About 10,000 people were seeking shelter at the hospital earlier this week, but many left either in anticipation of the Israeli raid or because of Israeli orders to evacuate, the Gaza Health Ministry said.Further south in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza's 2.3mn population are sheltering, the winter cold added to already dire conditions when wind blew away some tents of the displaced and rain flooded others.Israel's air and ground offensive has devastated much of Gaza and forced nearly all of its inhabitants from their homes. Palestinian health authorities say 28,858 people, mostly civilians, have been killed.Israeli plans to storm Rafah have prompted international concern that such action would sharply worsen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh blamed Israel for a lack of progress in achieving a ceasefire deal in Gaza, the group said in a statement.Haniyeh added that Hamas would not accept anything less than a complete cessation of hostilities, Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and "lifting of the unjust siege," as well as a release of Palestinian prisoners serving long sentences in Israeli jails.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that critics calling for Israel not to mount military action in Rafah were effectively telling the country to "lose the war" against Hamas.The Israeli premier, who has vowed to "destroy" the Palestinian group, also indicated that troops would go in regardless of whether a hostage release is agreed."Even if we achieve it, we will enter Rafah," he told a televised news conference.Israel has faced increasing calls, including from its closest ally the United States, to hold off sending troops into the southern Gazan city.Talks have been held in the Egyptian capital, Cairo, to try to broker a pause in the fighting, while aid agencies are increasingly concerned about the lack of food, water and medicine in the Gaza Strip.At least 83 people were killed in airstrikes across the Gaza Strip since Friday, health officials said.Residents and medics said more died as night fell on Saturday when Israeli warplanes carried several airstrikes on at least seven houses, killing and wounding dozens of people.
Israeli forces carried out arrests in Gaza's largest functioning hospital, health officials and the military said on Saturday, as airstrikes hit across the enclave and rain battered Palestinians taking shelter in Rafah.Israeli forces raided the Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis on Thursday as they pressed their war on Hamas."Occupation forces detained a large number of medical staff members inside Nasser Medical Complex, which they (Israel) turned into a military base," said Gaza Health Ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qidra.The Israeli military said it was hunting for Hamas fighters in Nasser and had so far arrested 100 suspects on the premises, killed gunmen near the hospital and found weapons inside it. Hamas has denied allegations that its fighters use medical facilities for cover.The Israeli incursion into the hospital has raised alarm about patients, medical workers and displaced Palestinians sheltering there.About 10,000 people were seeking shelter at the hospital earlier this week, but many left either in anticipation of the Israeli raid or because of Israeli orders to evacuate, the Gaza Health Ministry said.Further south in Rafah, where more than half of Gaza's 2.3 million population are sheltering, the winter cold added to already dire conditions when wind blew away some tents of the displaced and rain flooded others.Israeli plans to storm Rafah have prompted international concern that such action would sharply worsen the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh blamed Israel for a lack of progress in achieving a ceasefire deal in Gaza, the group said in a statement on Saturday.Haniyeh added that Hamas would not accept anything less than a complete cessation of hostilities, Israeli withdrawal from Gaza, and "lifting of the unjust siege," as well as a release of Palestinian prisoners serving long sentences in Israeli jails.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed "complete victory" over Hamas but added on Wednesday that flexibility in the group's position could move forward negotiations for a deal that would see hostages released.Israel's air and ground offensive has devastated much of Gaza and forced nearly all of its inhabitants from their homes. Palestinian health authorities say 28,858 people, mostly civilians, have been killed.The war began when Hamas sent fighters into Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and seizing 253 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.At least 83 people were killed in airstrikes across the Gaza Strip since Friday, health officials said, including one person on Saturday in Rafah, an area that borders Egypt and which Israel says is Hamas' last bastion.Across the border, air raid sirens warning of incoming rockets sounded in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon on Saturday.
Medics are sounding the alarm at southern Gaza’s Nasser hospital, where a nurse said snipers are killing people, sewage has flooded the emergency room and drinking water has run out.“It was a black night, with strikes and explosions all night,” Mohamed al-Astal, a nurse in the emergency department, said yesterday.Fighting between Israeli soldiers and Hamas fighters has taken place all around Nasser hospital in the southern Gazan city of Khan Younis.Astal said the facility has been “besieged” for a month, with constant danger and no food or drinking water left.“At night, tanks opened heavy fire on the hospital and snipers on the roofs of buildings surrounding Nasser hospital opened fire and killed three displaced people,” the 39-year-old nurse said.He said dozens of young men and some women were detained on Tuesday by Israeli troops, who also “forced the displaced people to leave under gunfire”.Gaza’s health ministry reported that thousands of people, including patients, have been made to leave the hospital.Israel’s military said soldiers “opened a secure route to evacuate the civilian population taking shelter in the area of the Nasser hospital”, without commenting on the allegations of sniper fire.In a statement, the military said it “does not intend to evacuate patients and medical staff” and troops have been “thoroughly instructed” to protect civilians and medical facilities.Israeli forces operating across the Gaza Strip have repeatedly raided hospitals, which are granted special protection under the laws of war.WHO CONCERNWorld Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said yesterday he was “alarmed” by reports from Nasser hospital, which he described as the “backbone of the health system in southern Gaza”.The agency has been denied access to the hospital in recent days and has lost contact with staff there, the WHO chief wrote on X, formerly Twitter.There have also been reports that the fighting in the area has destroyed warehouses filled with medical supplies, which the WHO said served hospitals in central and southern Gaza.The agency’s envoy for the Palestinian territories, Rik Peeperkorn, described Nasser as “a key hospital for all of Gaza”.“We cannot lose that hospital... this hospital is critically important,” Peeperkorn told journalists.The UN said a week ago there are no fully functioning hospitals left in Gaza, with only 13 out of 36 across the territory working at some capacity. Hospitals have been overwhelmed by more than four months of war, during which more than 68,200 people have been wounded according to the latest Gaza health ministry toll.The ministry says at least 28,576 people, mostly women and children, have been killed during Israel’s assault on the Palestinian territory since October first week.The Hamas attack that launched the war resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli official figures.Gaza’s health ministry warned on Tuesday that the situation at Nasser was “catastrophic”, with staff unable to move bodies to the mortuary because of the risks involved.“Healthcare workers, patients and companions in the complex are in grave danger,” the ministry said, and reported that multiple people had been shot.Despite the persistent peril, nurse Astal said he did not want to leave the hospital.“We serve the wounded and the sick, this is my duty — and I won’t give up even if they kill us.”
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said in Cairo yesterday that they were turning a “new leaf” in their relations after over a decade of estrangement.The two leaders also criticised Israel’s conduct of the war in the Gaza Strip and called for a ceasefire.Sisi welcomed Erdogan with great fanfare at Cairo airport before the pair signed several agreements. They both called for “a new stage in relations”, an increase in trade to “$15bn per year within a few years” and diplomatic co-operation in the Middle East.Erdogan, an outspoken critic of Israel’s conduct in its war with Gaza’s rulers Hamas, again took aim at the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.The Turkish leader, on his first visit to Egypt in more than 10 years, denounced Netanyahu’s “occupation, destruction and massacres”. Erdogan said the Palestinians were “at the top of our agenda” and that it was “our priority to establish a ceasefire as soon as possible”.Turkiye was “ready to work with Egypt for the recovery and reconstruction of Gaza in the medium term,” he added.For his part, Sisi criticised “Israel’s obstacles which mean that humanitarian aid enters Gaza too slowly”.Egypt controls the Rafah crossing into Gaza, but Israel insists on inspecting every aid shipment.Cairo has been hosting joint efforts with Qatar and the US to broker a new truce between Israel and Hamas. An Israel delegation was in Cairo on Tuesday, while a Hamas delegation was to travel to the Egyptian capital yesterday.Turkiye and Egypt cut ties in 2013.But relations have thawed since 2021, when a Turkish delegation visited Egypt to discuss normalisation.By last July, Cairo and Ankara had appointed ambassadors to each other’s capitals for the first time in a decade.In November 2022, Erdogan and Sisi shook hands in Qatar in what the Egyptian presidency heralded as a new beginning for their relations.
Israel vowed Wednesday to press on with a "powerful" operation in war-torn Gaza's Rafah, even as calls mounted for it to hold off sending troops into the territory's overcrowded far-southern city."We will fight until complete victory and this includes a powerful action also in Rafah after we allow the civilian population to leave the battle zones," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a Hebrew statement on Telegram.His pledge came as negotiations to pause the Israel-Hamas war headed into a second day and as deadly cross-border fire between Israel and Lebanon's Iran-backed Hezbollah movement stoked fears of wider conflict.Mediators in Egypt were hoping to secure a ceasefire that would see more hostages released in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, as Israel prepares for a full-scale ground incursion into Rafah.A Hamas source told AFP that a delegation was headed to Cairo to meet Egyptian and Qatari mediators, after Israeli negotiators held talks with the mediators on Tuesday.Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas urged Hamas to "quickly complete a prisoner deal, to spare our Palestinian people from the calamity of another catastrophic event".CIA director William Burns had joined Tuesday's talks with David Barnea, head of Israel's Mossad intelligence service, which Egyptian media said had been mostly "positive".US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby called the negotiations "constructive and moving in the right direction".Netanyahu said Israel would push for the release of hostages through "strong military pressure and very firm negotiations"."And yes, I insist that Hamas drop their delusional demands, and when they drop these demands we can move forward," he said in a video message released by his office.With regional tensions high, the Israeli army said rocket fire from Lebanon killed an Israeli soldier, while Lebanese state media said Israeli strikes killed three civilians, a woman and two children, and a Hezbollah fighter in south Lebanon.Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7, more than 240 people have been killed in Lebanon, most of them from Hezbollah but also including over 30 civilians.Hezbollah has traded near-daily fire with Israeli troops since the outbreak of the Gaza war, with tens of thousands displaced on both sides.US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller called Wednesday for a "diplomatic path forward" to try to resolve tensions on the Israel-Lebanon border.The potential for mass civilian casualties in Rafah triggered urgent appeals -- including from close allies -- for Israel to hold off sending troops into the last major population centre they have yet to enter in the conflict.Rafah, where more than 1.4 million Palestinians are trapped, is also the main entry point for desperately needed relief supplies.Terrified civilians are desperately seeking safety."My three children were injured, where can I go?" Dana Abu Chaaban asked at the border crossing with Egypt, where she was hoping to cross with her bandaged-up sons.Pressure has grown on Egypt to open its border to Palestinian civilians, hundreds of thousands of whom have sought shelter in makeshift camps by the border where they face outbreaks of disease and a scarcity of food and water.The International Committee of the Red Cross warned that "a new phase of the conflict is unfolding", and called for the protection of civilian lives."In view of a military operation in densely populated Rafah, we renew our call on the parties to the conflict, and all who have influence on them, to spare and protect civilian lives and infrastructure," said Fabrizio Carboni, the ICRC's regional director for the Near and Middle East."It is urgent to do more now. Countless lives are hanging in the balance."US President Joe Biden has also said civilians in Rafah "need to be protected", but Netanyahu has insisted "complete victory" cannot be achieved without eliminating Hamas in the city.The Israeli military has kept up its bombardment of Gaza, with strikes on both Rafah and the southern city of Khan Yunis.The health ministry in the Hamas-run territory said Wednesday that 104 people had been killed overnight.Fears were also growing over southern Gaza's Nasser hospital, where a nurse said snipers were killing people, sewage had flooded the emergency room and drinking water had run out.Mohammed al-Astal, 39, said the facility had been "besieged" for a month."At night, tanks opened heavy fire on the hospital and snipers on the roofs of buildings surrounding Nasser hospital opened fire and killed three displaced people," he said.Israel's military said troops have been "thoroughly instructed" to protect civilians and medical facilities.The World Health Organization said it had been unable to contact the besieged hospital for weeks.Some Gazans in Rafah were packing their belongings in readiness to move but others vowed to stay put, fearing even greater misery and starvation in the bombed-out hometowns they fled.Ahlam Abu Assi said she "would rather die" in Rafah than return to the famine-like conditions facing relatives who stayed in Gaza City."My son and his children have nothing to eat. They cook a handful of rice and save it for the next day," she said. "My grandson cries from hunger."The Hamas attack that triggered the war resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people in Israel, mostly civilians, according to Israeli official figures. At least 28,576 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israel's response, according to the latest Gaza health ministry figures.Around 130 of an estimated 250 people taken hostage by Hamas during the attack are believed to remain in Gaza. Israel says 29 of them are presumed dead.Two hostages rescued in a raid in Rafah on Monday had now been discharged from hospital, a doctor said.On Wednesday, around 100 representatives of the remaining hostages flew to The Hague to file a "crimes against humanity" charge against Hamas leaders at the International Criminal Court.And Spain and Ireland asked the European Union to "urgently" examine whether Israel is complying with its human rights obligations in Gaza under an accord linking rights to trade ties.
Talks involving the US, Egypt, Israel and Qatar on a Gaza truce ended without a breakthrough Tuesday as calls grew for Israel to hold back on a planned assault on the southern end of the enclave, crammed with over a million displaced people.The city of Rafah, whose pre-war population was about 300,000, teems with homeless people living in tent camps and makeshift shelters who fled there from Israeli bombardments in areas of Gaza further north during more than four months of war.Israel says it wants to flush out Hamas fighters from hideouts in Rafah and free Israeli hostages being held there, and is making plans to evacuate trapped Palestinian civilians. But no plan has been forthcoming and aid agencies say the displaced have nowhere else to go in the shattered territory.Israeli tanks shelled the eastern sector of Rafah overnight, causing waves of panic, residents said.Rafah neighbours Egypt, but Cairo has made clear it will not allow a refugee exodus over the border.Gaza health officials announced 133 new Palestinian deaths in the past 24 hours, bringing the total to 28,473 killed and 68,146 wounded since the beginning of the conflict on Oct 7.Supplies of food, water and other essentials are running out and diseases are spreading.About half of Gaza’s 2.3mn people are now squeezed into Rafah.In Cairo, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi conducted talks with CIA Director William Burns and Qatari Prime Minister HE Sheikh Mohamed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim al-Thani aimed at agreeing a Gaza truce, protecting civilians and delivering more aid into the enclave, Egypt’s state information service said.Two AJ journalists severely woundedQatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera said two of its journalists were severely wounded in an Israeli strike in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah Tuesday. Reporter Ismail Abu Omar’s life is at risk after he had his right leg amputated, while doctors are attempting to save the left one, Al Jazeera said. Cameraman Ahmad Matar was described by Al Jazeera as being in a “serious condition”. The two journalists have been admitted to the European Hospital. Erdogan arrives in Egypt WednesdayTurkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is set to arrive in Cairo today to meet his Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, sealing a long-running rapprochement between the two men.Erdogan on Monday said the pair would discuss “every effort” to stop the “bloodshed” in the Gaza Strip, while Turkish state news agency Anadolu said the meetings would also cover economic, trade, tourism, energy and defence matters.