Massive protests in several countries in solidarity with the Palestinians as aid still blocked at the border - Day 14 as it happened

Ahram Online , Saturday 21 Oct 2023

Israel continued its relentless bombardment of the Gaza Strip, killing to a significant number of Palestinians at the Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City, while the provision of critical humanitarian assistance to the 2.3 million Palestinians in the strip, deprived of water, food, and medicine, remains uncertain after 13 days of attacks.

Gaza war
Palestinian children displaced by the Israeli bombardment of Gaza stay in a UNDP tent camp in Khan Younis as Israeli airstrikes raining down on residential towers. AP
 

00:40 Egypt is set to host on Saturday the Cairo Summit for Peace, which will bring together more than a dozen leaders of Arab and Western countries and top representatives from the European Union, to discuss ways to de-escalate the war in Gaza, reach a ceasefire, and solve the decades-old Palestinian-Israeli conflict through the two-state solution.

23:55 France President Emmanuel Macron said his country had been in direct contact with Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah to avoid a flare-up on Lebanon's southern border.

"We sent messages to Hezbollah very directly through our ambassador and our services," Macron told a group of reporters, adding that despite rocket fire on the border there has been "no escalation" but "we remain very cautious".

23:30 US Secretary of State Antony Blinken voiced relief that Hamas has released two American captives but said the militant group still holds up to 10 other US citizens among approximately 200 captives seized earlier this month.

"There are still 10 additional Americans who remain unaccounted for in this conflict," Blinken told reporters, adding that all "should be released immediately and unconditionally."

22:50 Hamas says working with Qatari and Egyptian mediators to release "civilian" hostages taken during their October 7 attacks on Israel.

21:30 Muhammad Shweidah, director of an UNRWA shelter center in the Gaza Strip, told Al Jazeera, that the Israeli army asked them to evacuate five schools.

21:00 The Palestinian Red Crescent (PRC) has announced that they have been asked by the Israeli army to evacuate Al-Quds hospital in Gaza as an expected operation will take place. According to the statement, the hospital has over 400 patients and shelters 12,000 displaced people. The PRC has called on the world to prevent such action to avoid having another catastrophe like Al Ali Al Arabi ‘Baptist’

20:35 US President Joe Biden said Friday he believed the first trucks carrying aid to Gaza would come through the Rafah crossing from Egypt within the next two days.

20:00 Two Palestinian teenagers were killed Friday in the West Bank, Palestinian health officials said, raising the death toll in the territory to 83 since the start of the war on Gaza.

One, identified as 15-year-old Suhaib al-Sous, died after clashes with Israeli forces near Ramallah. The other, 17-year-old Oday Mansour, was killed in clashes at a military checkpoint near Hawara, a flashpoint town in the northern West Bank.

 

19:50 Al-Qassam Brigades releases two American citizens (a mother and her daughter) for humanitarian reasons.

19:10 Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has urged Israel to end its operations in Gaza that he said were “bordering on genocide.”

In a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter, Erdogan said “It is clear that security cannot be ensured by bombing hospitals, schools, mosques and churches. I reiterate our call on the Israeli government not to expand the scope of its attacks against civilians and to immediately stop its operations that are bordering genocide.”

18:30 Massive demonstrations in the iconic Tahrir square as Egyptians protest the Israeli siege and airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

18:00 Demostrations took place in Iraq, Malaysia, Indonesia, South Korea, and Turkey among others to protest against the Israeli aggression on Gaza.

17:30 In his meeting with British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on Friday in Cairo , President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said that Israel exceeded the right to self-defense in Gaza and that the situation must be contained as thousand of casualties have fallen in Gaza

17:00 4,1374 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli attacks and 13,162 other wounded, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

16:10 Israel’s defense minister said that after the country destroys the Hamas militant group, the military does not plan to control “life in the Gaza Strip

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant’s comments to lawmakers were the first time an Israeli leader discussed its long-term plans for Gaza.

Gallant said Israel expected there to be three phases to its war with Hamas. He said it first would attack the group in Gaza with airstrikes and ground maneuvers, then it would defeat pockets of resistance and finally it would cease its “responsibility for life in the Gaza Strip.”

15:32 Egypt has criticized accusations of its responsibility for closing Rafah crossing, despite Israel targeting it four times and refusing the entry of aid convoys. 

The Foreign Affairs Ministry pointed out that there has been a "clear pattern of targeting Egypt in Western media since the beginning of the war on Gaza". 

These accusations aim, the ministry said, "to promote the Israeli forced displacement scenario of the Palestinians, which Egypt firmly rejects". 

The ministry emphasized that the crossing is open, and Egypt is not responsible for obstructing the exit of third-country nationals.

14:00 Massive protests have swept across Egypt, demanding an immediate end to the brutal Israeli war on Gaza and showing strong solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle against the forced displacement sought by Israel.

 "With spirit and blood, we sacrifice for you, O Palestine," the demonstrators passionately chanted.

 

13:40 The U.S., Canada, U.K., Germany, Saudi Arabia and Oman have all called on their respective nationals to leave Lebanon. 

Shelling has intensified in recent days between northern Israel and southern Lebanon.

13:15 Shortly after arriving at Rafah crossing border, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, "On this side, we have many trucks loaded with essential supplies, including food and medicine.

The humanitarian aid agreement came with “some conditions and some restrictions,” Guterres said. He added that the U.N. is working to “clarify those conditions.”
 
These provisions are the critical difference between life and death for the people. We must expedite their transfer to the other side as swiftly and comprehensively as possible."

"A ceasefire will facilitate aid access to Gaza", he added.

13:00 According to latest toll by the Palestinian Health ministry, Israel has killed 4,137 people in its deadly war on Gaza.
The ministry received 1,400 reports of missing persons beneath the rubble of destruction in Gaza, with 720 of them being children.
It also added that seven hospitals in Gaza Strip are now completely out of service due to Israeli attacks.
 
12:55 The ASEAN-Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Summit in Riyadh on Friday condemned all attacks on civilians. In a statement, the summit also called for the immediate and unconditional release of civilian captives. 

12:45 Confrontations erupted between Israeli forces and demonstrators in Jerusalem, Sky News arabia reported.

Israeli occupation security turned away Muslim men, at the Lion's Gate which leads into the Muslim Quarter of the Old City to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound where worshippers are gathering for Friday noon prayer, in the occupied old city.

12:40 UNRWA has confirmed the deaths of two more of its staff members in the Gaza Strip, bringing the total to 16 since the war began.

11:47 UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived at the Egyptian El Arish Airport and is heading Rafah crosssing border.

Guterres is on a humanitarian mission to witness the UN preparations to deliver massive support to civilians in Gaza.

Egypt races against time to repair the Rafah Crossing road on the Palestinian side, which was damaged by Israeli strikes, in preparation for aid to pass through to Gaza, Al Qahera News TV reported earlier.

Egyptian Red Crescent aid trucks have been lined up on the highway in Al-Arish, preparing to move to the crossing once it is open.

11:00 The number of Palestinians detained by Israel in the West Bank has surged to over 930 since the beginning of the Gaza war, according to the Palestinian Prisoner Club.

There has also been an increase in arbitrary arrests of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and of Arab Israelis in Israel, including Palestinian activists and Palestinian workers that were previously working in Israel, with reports of ill-treatment and lack of any due process, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported. "This must cease", OCHA said.

For the past 13 days, many Palestinians in the West Bank have been denied freedom of movement, including being prevented from reaching hospitals to receive life-saving care. Restrictions on freedom of movement must be necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate aim, the UN office added.

10:50 Israeli occupation authorities confirmed the arrest of Hamas spokesman Hassan Yousef in the West Bank.

Yousef was arrested “on suspicion of acting on behalf of Hamas,” Israel said on Friday.  

Yousef is a leading Palestinian political figure, serving as the official Hamas spokesperson in the West Bank and holding a seat on the Palestinian Legislative Council.

He has been arrested by Israeli forces on several occasions and has spent a total of 24 years in Israeli occupation jails on various charges.

10:10 An investigation by Sanad Agency, a fact-checking agency for Al Jazeera, has presented evidence contradicting the Israeli occupation military's assertion that a strike on a Gaza hospital was caused by a Palestinian rocket misfire. 

Through careful examination of video footage captured during the bombing of Gaza's Al-Ahli Arabi 'Baptist' Hospital, Sanad identified four distinct Israeli airstrikes targeting areas surrounding the hospital. 

The Turkish Presidential Directorate of Communications' Center for Combating Disinformation (DMM) also said that allegations that the Palestinians struck the hospital are untrue.

10:00 At least 13 people, including five children, were killed during an Israeli attack of the Nour Shams refugee camp in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

“The Israeli occupation army committed a massacre in Nour Shams refugee camp in Tulkarem during its aggression on the camp yesterday, where the total martyrs have reached to 13 martyrs including 5 children,” the ministry said in statement on Friday. 

As of Friday morning, Israeli forces had withdrawn from the camp, the official Palestine TV reported.

Since 7 October, 69 Palestinians, including at least 15 children and one woman, have been killed by Israeli occupation forces in the occupied West Bank.

Settler violence has also further increased: six Palestinians have been killed by armed settlers, and a number of Palestinian communities have been forced from their land, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported. 

9:45 The toll of Palestininas killed by Israel in the Gaza Strip rised to 3,785, including at least 1,524 children, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported. 

Hundreds of additional Palestinians are believed to be trapped under the rubble.

The number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Gaza is estimated at about one million, including over 527,500 people staying in 147 UNRWA-designated emergency shelters in increasingly dire conditions.

At least 30 per cent of all housing units in the Gaza Strip have been either destroyed (12,845), rendered uninhabitable (9,055) or moderately/lightly damaged (121,000), since the start of the hostilities, according to the Ministry of Housing in Gaza.

The complete siege of Gaza continues. The Rafah, Kerem Shalom and Erez crossings remained closed, preventing the entry of desperately needed humanitarian aid, including food, water, medicines and fuel.

9:40 Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak told NBC News that “tens of thousands” of Israeli forces could enter the Gaza Strip in the coming says, predicting it would likely be a difficult and bloody offensive.

9:35 China is ready to work with Russia to facilitate Israel-Hamas peace talks, Beijing's Mideast envoy, Zhai Jun, said Friday after meeting with his Russian counterpart in Doha, Qatar.

“China and Russia share the same position on the question of Palestine, and China is ready to maintain communication and coordination with the Russian Federation in order to cool down the situation as soon as possible,” Zhai said, according to Chinese state media CCTV. 

China has blamed the conflict on the “fact that the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people have not been guaranteed,” CCTV reported, quoting Zhai, adding Beijing is “heartbroken by the large number of civilian casualties” .

“The Russian Federation is ready to work with China to promote an early ceasefire and halt the fighting between the Palestinians and Israelis and to create conditions for an early return to the right track on the Palestinian issue,” his Russian counterpart Mikhail Bogdanov said.

9:30 US President Joe Biden directly appealed to Americans for support in the wars in Israel and Ukraine and announced he would send an aid package to Congress, characterizing the current moment as an "inflection point in history."

9:10 More than 21 Palestinians were killed and 79 others injured, in Israeli air strikes on the city of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, local sources told Palestinian news agency WAFA on Friday. 

The Israeli strikes targeted six residential houses in Khan Yunis, killing almost two dozen civilians, the majority being women and children, local sources said.

The Israeli bombardments targeted the neighborhoods of Zaytoun and Shujaeya, destroying several homes in the civilian packed areas.

9:05 On Thursday night, Israel bombed a house bordering on the Greek Orthodox church in Gaza, which brought down the assembly hall where Christians and Muslims were having refuge. Several Palestinians were killed, other were injured. Many are still under the rubble.

 

The head of the Greek Orthodox Church in Jerusalem condemned the overnight attack on Gaza's oldest church, which falls under the Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem.

The airstrike, which damaged part of the St. Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church in Gaza City, was "a new massacre" and "an attack on Christian heritage," according to Archbishop Atallah Hanna, the Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Sebastia in Jerusalem.

“We urgently appeal to His Holiness the Pope and the heads of churches worldwide to raise their voices and not be satisfied with prayers alone,” Hanna added in a written statement. 

9:00 The Israeli army announced plans to evacuate the northern city of Kiryat Shmona on Friday, after days of clashes with Hezbollah fighters along the border with Lebanon.

8:35 British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will travel to Egypt on Friday where he will hold talks with counterparts in the region to discuss the situation in Israel and Gaza, his office said.

In the talks, Sunak will stress “the imperative of avoiding regional escalation and preventing the further unnecessary loss of civilian life”, his office said.

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