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Monday, March 04, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.

Region

Women react after the destruction of their house in an overnight Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on Sunday. AFP

Gaza truce talks in Cairo as fighting rages

Mediators in Cairo made a renewed push for a Gaza ceasefire, but differences remained as fighting raged on in the Palestinian territory gripped by desperate food shortages.US, Qatari and Hamas envoys travelled to Cairo for the latest effort towards a six-week truce, stepped-up aid deliveries and the exchange of hostages for Palestinian prisoners.But sticking points remained, including a Hamas demand that the Israeli armed forces entirely withdraw from the Gaza Strip after almost five months of devastating war.And Israel, which has so far announced no plans to join the Egypt talks, has demanded Hamas provide it with a list of all 130 remaining captives, including more than 30 it fears are dead.Despite the latest push to halt the fighting sparked by Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel, Israeli bombing and urban combat again rocked Gaza, home to 2.4 million people, most of whom have been displaced.Another 90 Palestinians were killed within 24 hours, said Hamas-ruled Gaza's health ministry, which put the war's overall death toll at 30,410, mostly women and children.Two of the latest victims, twin babies Naeem and Wissam Abu Anza, were buried on Sunday as their mother Rania wept in agony, an AFP photographer said.A relative, Shehda Abu Anza, said "only civilians" were in the house when it was bombed, killing 14 members of one family."All of them were sleeping when suddenly a missile hit and destroyed the whole house," he told AFP as residents searched the rubble with their bare hands, for bodies and also to salvage scarce food.An Israeli siege on Gaza has sparked dire warnings from the United Nations of famine, leading the United States to start airdropping food rations into Gaza on Saturday.Jordan and some other countries have already done so.Screaming Palestinian children ran toward food parcels that drifted on black parachutes onto the Mediterranean beach.At least 16 children have died of malnutrition in recent days as "famine spreads" in Gaza's north, said health ministry spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra.Gaza's desperation was grimly highlighted last Thursday when more than 100 people were killed in chaotic scenes around a convoy of aid trucks.Gaza health officials said Israeli forces opened fire into the crowd, causing a "massacre", while Israel's army said most victims were trampled or hit by trucks in a chaotic crush for food aid.A UN team that visited some of the wounded in Gaza City's Al-Shifa Hospital on Friday saw a "large number of gunshot wounds", said UN chief Antonio Guterres's spokesman Stephane Dujarric.Israel's military on Sunday announced the death of one more soldier in Gaza, bringing to 246 the number killed since ground operations began on October 27.In the worst ever Gaza war, more air strikes hit southern Rafah and Khan Yunis overnight, and the Hamas government media office reported intense tank shelling in northern Gaza.The Israeli military reported hitting about 50 targets including "underground terrorist infrastructure".The UN Security Council on Friday voiced concern over Gaza's "alarming levels of acute food insecurity" and urged "the immediate, rapid, safe, sustained and unhindered delivery of humanitarian assistance at scale".Pope Francis called for Gaza civilians to be given "safe access to the humanitarian aid they urgently need", telling the faithful at the Vatican that he supports an "immediate ceasefire" and hostage release.Mediators have been scrambling to lock in a truce before Ramadan, the Muslim fasting month that begins in around one week.Envoys from the United States, Qatar and Hamas have arrived in Cairo, Egyptian state-linked media reported Sunday.A US official, speaking to reporters late Saturday, had said "there's a framework deal" for a ceasefire which could start "today if Hamas agrees to release" elderly, women and ill hostages."The Israelis have more or less accepted it," the administration official said. "Right now, the ball is in the camp of Hamas."A Hamas official said that, if Israel were to meet its demands, this would "pave the way for an agreement within the next 24-48 hours".Osama Hamdan, a Lebanon-based Hamas official, told Qatar's Al-Araby TV that the group insisted on a complete, rather than "temporary", ceasefire and on "ending the aggression against our people".Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has so far rejected pulling troops out of Gaza before Hamas is destroyed and all hostages are freed.The Hamas official also said the group would demand "the entry of at least 400 to 500 trucks per day" carrying food, medicine and fuel as part of a truce deal.Israel had yet to confirm that it has accepted the truce plan or whether it would attend the Cairo talks.Netanyahu has faced mounting calls to secure the release of the hostages, from their desperate families and from a resurgent anti-government protest movement.At one rally, Eyal Kalderon, cousin of hostage Ofer Kalderon, said there may not be "another chance" to bring him home."It's now or maybe never."

People mourn relatives killed in overnight Israeli bombardment, outside the Al-Najjar hospital in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, yesterday.

UN condemns ‘gross human rights violations’ in Palestinian territories

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.

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