World

Deadly strikes hit Gaza as Israel mulls truce talks position

  • Gaza health ministry says at least 31,645 people killed in the territory during more than five months of war
Published March 17, 2024
Palestinian children look at the rubble of a building destroyed in an Israeli strike on Gaza City. Photo: AFP
Palestinian children look at the rubble of a building destroyed in an Israeli strike on Gaza City. Photo: AFP

GAZA STRIP: At least 61 Palestinians were killed in overnight Israeli bombardment, the health ministry in Gaza said on Sunday, as Israel was preparing to send negotiators to new truce talks in Qatar.

Israel’s security cabinet and the smaller war cabinet were to meet to “decide on the mandate of the delegation in charge of the negotiations before its departure for Doha,” the prime minister’s office said.

Its statement did not specify when the delegation would leave for the latest round of talks, which comes after Hamas submitted a new proposal for a pause in fighting and hostage release.

First aid boat unloads in Gaza as Hamas proposes new truce

More than five months of war and an Israeli siege have led to dire humanitarian conditions in the Gaza Strip, where the United Nations has repeatedly warned of looming famine for the coastal territory’s 2.4 million people.

The health ministry in Gaza said on Sunday that at least 31,645 people have been killed in the territory during more than five months of war.

The latest toll includes at least 92 deaths in the previous 24 hours, a ministry statement said, adding that 73,676 people have been wounded in Gaza since the war began.

 Children queue for food ahead of iftar meal to break the daily fast on Ramadan, in southern Gaza’s Rafah. Photo: AFP
Children queue for food ahead of iftar meal to break the daily fast on Ramadan, in southern Gaza’s Rafah. Photo: AFP

As the flow of aid trucks into Gaza has slowed, a second ship was due to depart from Cyprus along a new maritime corridor to bring food and relief goods, Cypriot officials said.

On Saturday, the US charity World Central Kitchen said its team had finished unloading supplies from a barge towed by Spanish aid vessel Open Arms which had pioneered the sea route.

The United Nations has reported particular difficulty in accessing north Gaza, where residents say they have resorted to eating animal fodder, and where some have stormed the few aid trucks that have made it through.

Shelling and clashes were reported in south Gaza’s main city of Khan Yunis and elsewhere.

The territory’s health ministry said 12 members of the same family, whose house in Deir al-Balah was hit, were among those killed overnight.

Most Gazans displaced by the fighting have sought refuge in Rafah on the Egyptian border, where Israel has threatened to launch a ground offensive, without giving a timeline.

The head of the UN’s World Health Organisation, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, appealed to Israel “in the name of humanity” not to launch an assault on Rafah.

‘Humanitarian catastrophe’

An evacuation planned by the Israeli army ahead of launching its assault was not a practical solution, Tedros argued, noting that Palestinians there do not “have anywhere safe to move to”.

“This humanitarian catastrophe must not be allowed to worsen,” he said on social media platform X.

The war was triggered by Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in about 1,160 deaths, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of official figures.

 The Open Arms vessel carrying food approaches the coast of Gaza City. Photo: AFP
The Open Arms vessel carrying food approaches the coast of Gaza City. Photo: AFP

Israel’s retaliatory campaign against Hamas has killed at least 31,645 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the health ministry.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has faced domestic pressure to secure the release of the captives, with protesters in Tel Aviv on Saturday carrying banners urging a “hostage deal now”.

Gaza truce efforts revived

“The civilians… need to demand from their leaders to do the right thing,” said demonstrator Omer Keidar, 27.

The Hamas proposal calls for an Israeli withdrawal from “all cities and populated areas” in Gaza during a six-week truce and more humanitarian aid, according to an official from the Palestinian group.

With the situation on the ground increasingly dire, aid donors have turned to deliveries by air or sea.

Malnutrition and disease

But air and sea missions are no alternative to land deliveries, UN agencies say. Humanitarian groups have cited Israeli restrictions as among the obstacles they face.

The United States, which provides Israel with billions of dollars in military assistance, has also grown increasingly critical of Netanyahu over his handling of the war.

Washington has said it cannot support Israel’s long-threatened operation against Hamas in Rafah without a “credible, achievable, executable plan” to protect Palestinian civilians.

The crisis has only grown worse in Rafah, said medical staff at a clinic run by Palestinian volunteers that offers treatment for displaced Gazans.

 Smoke over Rafah after Israeli bombardment. Photo: AFP
Smoke over Rafah after Israeli bombardment. Photo: AFP

“We’re facing shortages of medications, especially paediatric medicines,” said Dr. Samar Gregea, herself displaced from Gaza City in the north.

“There are a lot of patients in the camp, with all children suffering from malnutrition,” she told AFP, also reporting the “widespread presence of hepatitis A”.

Aid supply ship from Cyprus reaches Gaza coast

“Children require foods high in sugars, like dates, which are currently unavailable.”

Comments

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MAhmed Mar 17, 2024 04:09pm
Jewish killers, selfish world and selfish muslims.
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KU Mar 17, 2024 06:53pm
What an ugly world it is to live or survive for the young generation! Glaring human extermination of a targeted group of civilians and the human rights flag bearers are silent and complicit.
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Rebirth Mar 17, 2024 07:54pm
Even the US, a nation founded out of hostility and hate for Islam and Muslims globally, didn’t conduct a single raid during Ramzan in Iraq, Afghanistan. Yet Sotheby’s continues to operate in the UAE.
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