First aid convoy enters Gaza from Egypt as Cairo peace summit calls for protection of civilians - Day 15 as it happened

Ahram Online , Sunday 22 Oct 2023

As the conflict grimly marked its 15th day, Israel's relentless aerial assault on the Gaza Strip showed no signs of relenting. The 2.3 million besieged Palestinians found themselves in a precarious position, enduring heavy military attacks while their access to essential necessities hung in the balance.

People on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing watch as a convoy of lorries carrying humanitarian aid crosses to the Gaza Strip on October 21, 2023. AFP

00:30 London police say nearly 100,000 people marched in the British capital in an event organized by pro-Palestinian groups, one of several such protests across Europe

23:40 Office of Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denied Hamas’ claims that it declined to accept two captives saying it is ‘propaganda lies.’

However, Al-Qassam Brigades announced in a message on their Telegram channel that they are prepared to release the two captives, Nurit Yitzhak and Yochved Levschitz, tomorrow, following the same procedures adopted during the release of the US detainees on Friday

23:10 The Israeli army reiterates its call for the Gazans to evacuate and head to the south of Wadi Gaza.

22:25 Spokesman of Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas military wing, Abu Ubaida told Al-Jazeera: "We informed Qatar that we will release two more captives for compelling humanitarian reasons with nothing in return, but Israel refused to accept them."

The detainees are Nurit Yitzhak, ID card number 001145416, and Yochved Levschitz, ID card number 005236955.

22:15 The UN is hoping a second convoy of trucks will be sent into Gaza on Sunday under a light inspection system that will allow relief deliveries to scale up into next week, its humanitarian chief said.

A first convoy of 20 trucks arrived in Gaza through the Rafah crossing with Egypt on Saturday, but efforts to deliver supplies to the besieged stripe have been held up by Israeli demands to verify aid.

The 20-truck convoy was announced by U.S. President Joe Biden following a trip to Israel on Wednesday and was not subject to an inspection of the kind that officials say will be needed for continuous deliveries.

"I've been hearing this afternoon – but we're in negotiation on it right now – that we may get another convoy tomorrow, maybe even slightly bigger, 20 to 30 trucks," UN aid chief Martin Griffiths said in an interview on the sidelines of a conference about Gaza in Cairo.

"It's incredibly important that there is no gap in the aid going across the border," he said. The UN says 100 trucks daily are needed to meet essential needs in Gaza, where Israel has imposed a "total siege" as it bombards the enclave in retaliation for a deadly incursion by Hamas militants.

21:15 "We have to enter the next phase of the war in the best conditions, not according to what anyone tells us. From today, we are increasing the strikes and minimizing the danger," military spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari told a press conference.

20:45 Qatar, a key power in the efforts to release captives captured by Hamas, believes they can be released "very soon" thanks to ongoing discussions.

20:20 The World Health Organization calls in a statement with other international agencies for a ceasefire in Gaza and immediate access to aid to all parts of the Strip

20:00  Hezbollah’s deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Kassem vowed that Israel will pay a high price whenever it starts a ground offensive in the Gaza Strip and that his militant group based in Lebanon already is “in the heart of the battle.”

19:00 Palestinian Americans and other dual citizens rushed to southern Gaza’s Rafah crossing with Egypt hoping for a safe passage.

Even as embassies asked their citizens in Gaza to stand ready at the border, crowds of disappointed Palestinians holding American, Canadian, German, and British passports waited hours in vain for at least the fifth time this week.

“There is no opening of the crossing, and the suffering is the same,” said U.S. citizen Dina al-Khatib. “They communicate with us, but there is no change.”

With a humanitarian disaster brewing in Gaza, al-Khatib said she and her family were desperate to get out.

“It’s is not like previous wars,” she said. “There is no electricity, no water, no internet, nothing.”

​18:20 A senior Israeli occupation army official says the military will try not to strike zones in Gaza where humanitarian aid is being distributed unless rockets are fired from the area.

He added that the definition of what constitutes a “legitimate target” has changed because the use of civilian infrastructure by Hamas “turns a private home into a legitimate target. And anyone who supports that home is a legitimate target.”

He acknowledged that the occupation army had attacked houses where there were civilians living.

17:45  Hamas confirmed, in a statement, the killing of Osama Al-Muzaini, a member of the movement’s political bureau, in an Israeli raid on Gaza.

The movement also said, in a press conference from Lebanon, that four hospitals in Gaza have gone out of service, and approximately 25 hospitals and medical centers have been damaged due to the ongoing airstrikes by the Israeli occupying forces.

"We emphasize the crucial need to protect hospitals and medical facilities, as they are protected institutions under international law, to prevent a recurrence of the tragedy of the Al-Ahli Hospital". The movement said that the 20 trucks carrying medical and food supplies entered Gaza through Rafah Crossing is insufficient to meet the pressing healthcare needs of the beleaguered population, emphasizing the urgency of further aid.

"We call on  the United Nations, the UNRWA, and the Palestinian Red Crescent to facilitate the distribution of aid and assistance to hospitals and eligible individuals in both the northern and southern regions of Gaza"

Hamas also called for the urgent entry of fuel into Gaza to address the constant power outages, which are affecting hospitals and medical centers running out of the necessary fuel for electricity generation.

Furthermore,  Hamas said it "will work with all mediators to close the file of civilians" in captivity, "provided that the appropriate security and field conditions are met".

17:10 Israeli troops raided the West Bank home of a senior Hamas leader and detained members of his family, witnesses said. 

Saleh al-Aruri is the deputy to Hamas' overall leader Ismail Haniyeh and one of the founders of the Islamist group's military wing.

16:45 Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters exchanged fire in several areas along the Lebanon-Israel border as violence escalated over the war on Gaza.

An Associated Press journalist in south Lebanon heard loud explosions along the border close to the Mediterranean coast.

The state-run National News Agency reported that Israeli shelling hit several villages, adding that a car was directly hit in the village of Houla. There was no immediate word on casualties.

An Israeli army spokesman said a group of gunmen fired a shell into Israel adding that an Israeli drone then targeted them. He added that another group of gunmen fired toward the Israeli town of Margaliot and a drone attacked them shortly afterward.

15:30 UNICEF says the initial aid convoy will save lives in Gaza but is inadequate.

A two-truck U.N. convoy that entered Gaza from Egypt is carrying over 44,000 bottles of drinking water from the U.N. children’s agency - a day’s supply for 22,000 people, according to UNICEF.

“This first, limited water will save lives, but the needs are immediate and immense,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said.

15:00 Iraq’s prime minister warned Saturday that if the Israeli war on Gaza spreads to other countries in the region it will affect the flow of oil to international markets.

"This will impact international security and its sustainability, potentially leading to regional conflicts that threaten energy supplies to global markets,” Mohammed Shia al-Sudani Said.

This, in turn, adds another burden to the world's economic crises and opens the door to deeper and broader conflicts, al-Sudani told the international summit held in Egypt.

The Iraqi PM indicated that the Palestinian people are experiencing "a process of genocide", with civilians targeted in residential areas, churches, and hospitals, adding that Baghdad rejects the emptying of the Gaza Strip as “the Palestinians have no other place but their land.”

He called for an immediate cease-fire and an exchange of prisoners to end the current conflict.

Al-Sudani said that the situation would not have reached this point had U.N. Security Council resolutions been respected, an apparent reference to Israel’s settlement policies in the West Bank.

14:50 Hamas stated that the ongoing Israeli shelling of Gaza during the Cairo Summit indicates that "Israel is a rogue entity that disregards all international values and agreements.

"The resistance group added that such actions "require a strong international response to stop the aggression."

14:30 Israeli military renewed strikes on Hezbollah targets following a shelling towards an Israeli military outpost stationed near the Lebanon border.

Israeli occupation Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said on Saturday that the Hezbollah group had decided to enter the war and is paying dearly for that decision.

"We must be alert to any eventuality," he said on a visit to the northern border, where he met with troops and leaders of local communities. "We will face even greater challenges."

14:00 At least 4,385 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza by Israel bombardment, including 1,756 children and 976 women, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.
The ministry said another 13,561 people had been wounded in the Israeli strikes.

13:40 Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan said that the Israeli military escalation in Gaza "must be stopped immediately,' in his speech at the Cairo Summit. He expressed opposition to attempts to forcibly displace Palestinians and called for decisive international action to end the conflict and bring stability to the region.

13:25 UN chief Antonio Guterres pleaded Saturday for a "humanitarian ceasefire" in the war between Israel and Hamas militants that has devastated much of Gaza, demanding "action to end this godawful nightmare".

Addressing the Cairo summit as the conflict raged into its third week, Guterres said Gaza, the Palestinian territory of 2.4 million people was living through "a humanitarian catastrophe" with thousands killed and more than a million displaced.

"We meet in the heart of a region that is reeling in pain and one step from the precipice," he told the meeting.

The United Nations chief said that Hamas’ “assault” on Israel “can never justify the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”

Guterres pointed to the “wider context” of war, saying that the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is “the only realistic foundation for true peace and stability.”

He said "the grievances of the Palestinian people are legitimate and long" after "56 years of occupation with no end in sight".

He called for the protection of civilians and the sparing of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and U.N. premises, from the bombardment.

13:20 The Israeli military stated that the number of confirmed captives in Gaza is 210, with a warning that this figure could change as investigations continue.

13:15 The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, expressed concern about the risk of escalating into a religious conflict and the expansion of the confrontation. 

12:50 The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned against the attempts to displace Palestinians from Gaza, the West Bank, and Jerusalem.  

“We will not leave ... We will not leave ... We will not leave ... and we will remain in our Arab land”, Abbas said during his speech at the Cairo Summit for Peace.

Abbas rejected the targeting of civilians by both sides and called for the release of all prisoners and detainees.

He stated that Palestinian people are facing brutal aggression by Israel, warning that the cycle of violence is constantly renewed due to the absence of justice and neglect of the rights of Palestinians

“The two-state solution and ending the occupation according to a clear timetable is the solution to the current crisis”, Abbas said, calling on the UN Security Council to assume its responsibilities towards the Palestinian people.

12:00 Cairo Peace Summit on Israel's war in Gaza takes off.  In his opening speech, President El-Sisi reiterated his call for providing protection to Palestinians, asking, "Where is the equality between human lives without discrimination or double standards?"

He also reaffirmed Egypt's stance, rejecting any Israeli plans for the forced displacement of Palestinians from their land.

"Anyone who believes that the Palestinian people, who are proud, steadfast, and resilient, would be willing to abandon their land, even under occupation or bombardment, is mistaken in their understanding of the nature of this people," Sisi added

Egyptian President proposed a roadmap for peace that "must begin with a ceasefire and lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state,", he said.

11:17 The Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Egypt for the Cairo Summit for Peace and was greeted by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

11:00 The Palestinian Prisoners Club said that the Israeli occupation forces detained 110 Palestinians within the last 24 hours in the West Bank, raising the number of Palestinian detainees from the West Bank to more than 1070 since the war began in Gaza on 7 October.

10:30 The participants of the Cairo Summit for Peace have started arriving in the administrative capital of Egypt.

10:05 Humanitarian aid convoys have begun crossing the Rafah border, en route to Gaza.

Red Crescent trucks were seen on the Palestinian side of the border awaiting the aid. 

Under the agreement, only 20 trucks will be allowed today, all deliveries from the Egyptian Red Crescent to the Palestinian Red Crescent organization.

A UN official said that the next convoy might not be allowed to cross until Monday and urged safe, unconditional, unimpeded aid delivery to Gaza.

 However, Gaza is still facing continued prevention of fuel entry by Israel. 
The Israeli occupation military spokesperson stated no fuel would be allowed to the Gazan population and that aid arriving through Egypt's Rafah crossing would be directed to the southern part of Gaza exclusively.
Additionally, he said that the army will persist in conducting strikes in northern Gaza.

9:50 The United Nations Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) said at least 17 of its staff had been killed in the Gaza war, warning that the death toll would likely rise.

9:45 Israel renewed its bombing of various areas in the Gaza Strip. Israeli air had razed entire districts and filled morgues with over 4,100 Palestinians. Grief-stricken families were in mourning throughout the territory. On Friday, mourners attended a funeral for those killed in an Israeli strike on the Greek Orthodox Saint Porphyrius Church, where Palestinian Christians who had fled their homes had sought shelter.

9:40 White House walks back Biden’s comment agreeing that Israel should delay Gaza ground assault. The White House stated that the US president didn't hear the full question and was only commenting on whether he wanted to see more captives released. This statement came after shortly after Hamas released the first group of individuals they had taken as war prisoners into the Gaza Strip.

9:30 Israel issued a warning against travel to Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco, citing fears over Israeli travelers’ safety amid ongoing protests in the Arab world against Israeli aggression on Gaza, Israeli media reported.

The announcement from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Foreign Ministry says it is raising the alert to Egypt (including the Sinai Peninsula) and Jordan to a 4 and calling on all Israelis in the country to leave as soon as possible.

For Morocco, the threat level is being raised to a 3, and Israelis are told to avoid non-essential travel.

“Due to the continuation of the war, further significant aggravation has been detected in protests against Israel in recent days in various countries of the world, with an emphasis on Arab countries in the Middle East, alongside displays of hostility and violence against Israeli and Jewish symbols,” the warning reads.

Additionally, it recommends avoiding travel to countries such as Malaysia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and the Maldives.

9:00 The US Embassy in Israel said that it has received information that the Rafah crossing will open today at ten o’clock local time.

“If the border is opened, we do not know how long it will remain open for foreign citizens to depart Gaza,” the US Embassy in Jerusalem says. 9:20 Hamas announced it targeted Ashdod with a rocket barrage in response to targeting civilians.

According to the Palestinian health ministry, 352 Palestinians were killed within 24 hours in heavy Israeli overnight airstrikes on Gaza.

8:30 The Israeli army bombed a series of Hezbollah positions in Lebanon while the group fired anti-tank missiles towards Israel.

8:00 A group of 55 prominent artists and advocates in the entertainment industry have signed an open letter to President Joe Biden, urging a call for a ceasefire in Gaza and Israel.

The signatories include names such as Joaquin Phoenix, Cate Blanchett, Jon Stewart, Kristen Stewart, Susan Sarandon, Mahershala Ali, Riz Ahmed, Ramy Youssef, and Quinta Brunson.

“We urge your administration, and all world leaders, to honor all of the lives in the Holy Land and call for and facilitate a ceasefire without delay,” the letter reads. 

"Saving lives is a moral imperative."

The statement also includes a comment from UNICEF spokesperson James Elder, emphasizing the devastation inflicted on the population of Gaza by ongoing Israeli air strikes and blockades on water and power.

8:00 Israeli occupation forces shot and killed a 17-year-old boy during an assault on the ancient city of Jericho, east of the West Bank, according to the Ministry of Health.
The killing of Nawaja has raised the number of Palestinians Israel killed in the West Bank to 84 since 7 October.

17:28 Hamas confirms the killing of Osama Al-Muzaini, a member of the movement’s political bureau, in an Israeli raid on Gaza, the movement said in a statement.

17:37 Hamas said on Saturday it won't discuss the fate of Israeli occupation army captives until Israel ends its aggression on the Gaza strip, according to Reuters.

"Our stance with regards to Israeli army captives is clear: it's related to a (possible) exchange of prisoners, and we will not discuss it until Israel ends its aggression on Gaza and Palestinians," Hamas official Osama Hamdan, speaking from Lebanon told a televised presser. 

Short link: