Israel targets civilians in Gaza as US vows to veto UNSC ceasefire resolution - as it happened

Ahram Online , Sunday 18 Feb 2024

On day 135 of the Israeli war on Gaza, the occupation army persists in targeting civilians and hospitals in the central and southern regions, while the United States vows to veto a UN resolution calling for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire.

People walk past the the al-Aqsa University, levelled by Israeli bombardment in Gaza City. AFP


21:35 Israel's army pressed on Sunday with its campaign in southern Gaza to destroy Hamas as prospects dimmed for a ceasefire in the more-than-four-month-old war.

18:25 Two Palestinian men, including one member of an armed group, were killed in an Israeli raid on Sunday, in the latest surge in violence in the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian health ministry said the two, aged 19 and 36, were pronounced dead from gunshot wounds after the raid in the Tulkarm refugee camp, which the UN says houses over 27,000 Palestinian refugees.

15:50 The African Union Summit in Addis Ababa demanded Israel respond to international calls for a permanent ceasefire in Gaza and comply with the decisions of the International Court of Justice to prevent acts of genocide in the strip.

“We condemn the collective punishment against civilians in Gaza and attempts to forcefully transfer them to the Sinai peninsula,” African leaders said in the summit's final statement.

They also called for an end to the unjust Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and an independent international investigation into Israel's use of internationally banned weapons and other violations of international humanitarian law in its war on Gaza. 

Furthermore, the African Summit condemned the support provided by some Western countries to the Israeli occupation, giving Israel free rein to continue its military operations in Gaza.

15:29 The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has strongly condemned the increasing incursions by the Israeli army into various areas of the occupied West Bank, denouncing these actions as resulting in additional casualties, injuries, and fatalities, instilling fear among peaceful civilians in their residences, and destroying infrastructure.

In a recent statement, the ministry highlighted the ongoing situation in the Tulkarm refugee camp as a stark example of the current events.

These actions, the ministry asserts, "occur against a backdrop of political permissions granted to occupation soldiers, giving them the authority to shoot Palestinians based on their assessments and whims, in most cases without the Palestinian posing any threat to their lives."


14:55 Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva accused Israel Sunday of committing “genocide” against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.

“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,” he added.

14:50 Two Palestinians were killed and three others injured during an Israeli military raid into the city and refugee camp of Tulkarm in the northern occupied West Bank, WAFA reported citing local sources.

The confrontations broke out as Israeli occupation forces, supported by special units and armored military vehicles, stormed Tulkarm, triggering violent confrontations with residents.

WAFA reported that the incursion of an undercover Israeli unit into Tulkarm was accompanied by a large number of military vehicles and an armored bulldozer.

A video, circulated by Israelis on social media, shows Israeli soldiers in the occupied West Bank testing a new sniping weapon on a random civilian young man.


14:05 Egypt will participate in the advisory opinion requested by the United Nations General Assembly from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Israeli policies and practices in the occupied Palestinian territories since 1967.

Egypt has submitted a memorandum to the court and will present an oral argument before the court on 21 February, Diaa Rashwan, the head of Egypt’s State Information Service, said.

He explained that concerning the subject of the advisory opinion, the Egyptian memorandum includes an affirmation of the illegality of the Israeli occupation that has lasted for more than 75 years in violation of the principles of international humanitarian law, as well as the policies of the annexation of land, demolition of homes, and expulsion and displacement of Palestinians, and the peremptory norms of general international law, including the right of self-determination to the Palestinian people and the prohibition of territory acquisition by force of arms.

The memorandum also includes a rejection of the policies of persecution, racial discrimination, and other Israeli practices that flagrantly violate the principles of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

13:30 Israel’s cabinet unanimously approved a resolution to reject international recognition of a Palestinian state.

“Israel categorically rejects international dictates around a permanent settlement with the Palestinians,” read the cabinet decision.

“A settlement, if it is achieved, will come about only through direct negotiations between the sides, with no preconditions.”

“Israel will continue to oppose a unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state,” the decision added. 

Earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting that the move comes after “recent talk in the international community about an attempt to unilaterally impose on Israel a Palestinian state.”

On Thursday, the Washington Post reported that the US and Arab partners are rushing to complete a detailed, comprehensive plan for long-term peace between Israel and Palestinians, including a firm timeline for establishing a Palestinian state.

Hardliners had met the reported proposal with anger, and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich had demanded such a statement rejecting Palestinian statehood.

The newly appointed Minister of Energy Eli Cohen said "If the price of reaching peace agreements is a Palestinian state, then I give up the peace agreements.”

13:08 EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the situation in the Israel-occupied West Bank presents a significant impediment to achieving a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

"The West Bank is at boiling ... we could be on the eve of a greater explosion," Borrell said at the Munich Security Conference.

Around 490,000 Israeli extremists live in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, in dozens of colonial settlements that are deemed illegal under international law.

These settlers live alongside approximately three million Palestinians in the occupied territory, and their presence has been linked to recurrent terrorist attacks against Palestinians.

The international community regards Israeli settlements on Palestinian territories as illegal and considers them a war crime, representing a major obstacle to peace.

Borrell underscored the EU's commitment to supporting the Arab initiative for establishing a Palestinian state, encompassing both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian Institute of Applied Research, which monitors the settlements, documented 28 new plans for Israeli settlements in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem in 2023, totaling 28,503 settlement units over an area of 13,357 dunams of Palestinian land (a dunam is about 1,000 square metres).

12:15 The Israeli army carried out airstrikes against Hezbollah positions in south Lebanon’s village of Yaroun on Sunday morning, the occupation army said in a statement.

The troops also shelled areas in Alma Ash-Shab and Dhayra with artillery.

Hezbollah and Israel have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since the war on Gaza broke out on 7 October.

On the bloodiest day for Lebanon since then, the Israeli army killed a Hezbollah commander, two other fighters, and 10 civilians in a strike in south Lebanon's Nabatiyeh last Wednesday.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed that Israel will pay "with blood" for civilians it killed in Lebanon.

11:45 Russia has invited Palestinian factions to meet in Moscow on 26 February, the Palestinian prime minister said, adding that the Palestinian Authority was ready to engage with Hamas, Reuters reported.

"Russia has invited all Palestinian factions who will be meeting on the 26 of this month in Moscow. We will see if Hamas is ready to come to the ground with us" Mohammad Shtayyeh told the Munich Security Conference.

"We are ready to engage. If Hamas is not then that's a different story. We need Palestinian unity," he said, adding that to be part of that unity Hamas needed to meet certain prerequisites.

11:40 The Palestinian health ministry said Israel killed at least 28,985 Palestinians in the ongoing strikes on Gaza since 7 October.

A total of 127 people died in the last 24 hours, and 68,883 people have been injured since the war erupted, it added in a statement.

11:30 The Palestinian Red Crescent Society said that the Israeli forces have targeted the third floor of its Al-Amal Hospital in Khan Younis, southern Gaza, with artillery shelling, as the occupation forces continued its siege of the hospital for the 27th consecutive day, with tanks stationed in front of the hospital building for two weeks.

The Israeli forces are preventing the entry of food, medical supplies, and fuel to the hospital, threatening a humanitarian catastrophe and the cessation of the hospital's operations, according to the Red Crescent.

Seven staff members of the Palestinian Red Crescent have also been detained in an Israeli military raid into the hospital nine days ago and are still in Israeli detention until now.

Meanwhile, telecom services, including landlines, mobile phones, and internet services, have been cut off for 34 consecutive days in Khan Younis governorate, WAFA reported.


10:39 Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis has been put "completely out of service," said the Palestinian health ministry.

“There are only four medical teams – 25 staff – currently caring for patients” inside the hospital, Ashraf Al-Qidra, the ministry spokesperson, told Reuters

“The Nasser medical complex is the backbone of healthcare in the southern Gaza Strip. Its ceasing to function is a death sentence for hundreds of thousands of Palestinian displaced people in Khan Younis and Rafah,” he said.

The ministry said the Israeli occupation army has turned the hospital into a military outpost, effectively rendering it non-operational and denying crucial medical care to civilians in need. 

"The Israeli forces detained medical staff for long hours in the maternity building, bound their hands, assaulted them, and stripped them of their clothes," the ministry added in a statement.

Israeli forces arrested 70 healthcare workers at Nasser Hospital, and dozens of immobile patients, placed them on military stretchers in trucks, and transported them to an unknown location, endangering their lives.

"The oxygen shortage has led to the death of 7 patients so far, and we fear the death of dozens of critical cases," it added.

10:26 Pope Francis held a private meeting on Saturday with Younis Al-Khatib, president of the Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) which provides vital humanitarian aid to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, as reported by the PRCS.

Al-Khatib briefed Pope Francis on the dire humanitarian conditions experienced by civilians in the Gaza Strip due to the ongoing Israeli war, now in its fifth consecutive month.

A senior Vatican official, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, condemned Israel on Tuesday saying that Israel’s military response to the Hamas attack was disproportionate and caused “carnage.”

"I believe we are all outraged by what is happening, by this carnage, but we must have the courage to move forward and not lose hope," he said.

10:00 A major dispute broke out between Israeli National Security Minister Ben-Gvir and the Israeli security establishment regarding the preparations for the holy month of Ramadan at Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem, Israeli media revealed.

The Far-right extremist Ben-Gvir said that Palestinian residents of the occupied West Bank should be barred from attending prayers at the Al-Aqsa during Ramadan, which begins around 10 March.

The hardline minister, who has caused massive diplomatic uproar for his previous stormings into Al-Aqsa, is even pushing for banning Arab Israeli citizens below the age of 70 from visiting the site, according to the Israeli Channel 12.

Prime Minister Benjamen Netanyahu is slated to hold a meeting with Ben-Gvir and the war cabinet on Sunday to discuss the issue further, Times of Israel said.

Ben-Gvir has been convicted on at least eight charges, including supporting a terrorist organization and incitement to racism against Palestinians.

09:07 About 200 patients are trapped inside Nasser Hospital in Khan Younes, southern Gaza, which has been under Israeli siege for a week now, the World Health Organization said.

"At least 20 patients need to be urgently referred to other hospitals to receive health care; medical referral is every patient’s right," said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, adding that the hospital is not functional anymore, after a weeklong siege followed by the ongoing raid.

"Both yesterday and the day before, the WHO team was not permitted to enter the hospital to assess the conditions of the patients and critical medical needs, despite reaching the hospital compound to deliver fuel alongside partners."


The Israeli occupation soldiers detained Atef Al-Hout, the director of Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, for questioning as the Israeli army continued its raid of the hospital, Palestinian media reported.

09:02 Al Jazeera is reporting that three Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli bombing of the Al-Zawayda area in the central Gaza Strip.

An Israeli bombing of a house in the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in Gaza City in northern Gaza has also killed at least one person and injured others.

Israel's relentless genocidal war has edged closer to Khan Younis, in the south, with overnight attacks killing at least 10 Gazans there and in central Gaza's Deir Al-Balah, according to a tally by the official Palestinian news agency WAFA.


09:00 The Arab group at the UN is pushing for a UN Security Council resolution, put forward by Algeria, and calling for an "immediate" truce in Gaza.

The latest draft of the resolution, seen by AFP on Saturday, "demands an immediate humanitarian ceasefire that must be respected by all parties."

Additionally, it "rejects forced displacement of the Palestinian civilian population" and "demands the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages," according to AFP. 

Earlier, US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield issued a statement responding to reports that Algeria plans to put the resolution to a vote on Tuesday.

“Should it come up for a vote as drafted, it will not be adopted,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

Short link: